How to Clean White Leather Sneakers so They Look New

Follow our guide for cleaning white leather sneakers, so they'll look fresh.

This guide shows you how to clean white leather sneakers to keep them looking fresh. (You'll also avoid having to buy new white sneakers as often.) White sneakers easily get dirty due to their color—from regular use, accidentally stepping in mud, or anything in between.

Whether your shoes have a few scuffs or deep, set-in stains, we show you a few sneaker cleaning methods below. Your well-worn white leather sneakers will look brand new.

How Often to Clean White Leather Sneakers

Clean your white leather sneakers about every two weeks to keep them looking clean. The frequency also depends on how often you wear them and if any stains get on them. If any spots develop, clean them right away to get rid of stains and avoid having them set in.

What You Need:

To Clean White Leather Sneakers With a Magic Eraser

To Clean White Leather Sneakers With a Scrubbing Paste

  • White toothpaste (non-gel)
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush or cleaning cloth
  • Microfiber towel

To Clean White Leather Sneakers With Soap

  • Cleaning cloth
  • White sponge (optional)
  • Body bar soap
  • Microfiber towel

To Clean Shoelaces

How to Clean White Leather Sneakers With a Magic Eraser

Step 1: Wet the Magic Eraser

Wet and wring out a magic eraser so that it is damp but not dripping wet.

Step 2: Rub Off Dirt or Grime

Use the magic eraser to rub away any visible dirt or grime on your white leather sneakers, including on the soles of the shoes. You'll be amazed at how much dirt this removes.

Step 3: Wipe and Dry Shoes

Wipe away any foam crumbles that may have come off on your shoes. Moisture can be damaging to leather, so make sure to dry the shoes thoroughly with a towel.

How to Clean White Leather Sneakers With a Scrubbing Paste

Step 1: Mix the Paste

Mix up a paste of 1 tablespoon white toothpaste (non-gel formula), 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon warm water. Feel free to add more water or baking soda to form a thicker paste.

Step 2: Apply and Scrub

Using a toothbrush or cleaning cloth, apply the paste to your shoes, scrubbing gently in a circular motion to remove the stains.

Step 3: Wipe and Dry Shoes

Wipe off the paste with a damp cloth. Dry your white leather sneakers thoroughly since moisture can damage leather. If the stains are still there, repeat the process.

How to Clean White Leather Sneakers With Soap

Step 1: Add Soap to a Cloth

Lather a wet cloth or a white sponge with a bar of white soap. White soap is best so that dyes from the soap don't rub off on your white shoes.

Step 2: Apply and Scrub

Using a gentle scrubbing motion, apply the soap to the upper part of the shoe to remove stains.

Step 3: Wipe and Dry Shoes

When finished scrubbing, wipe away excess soap and residue with a damp cloth. Dry the shoes with a clean towel.

How to Clean Shoelaces

Now that your white leather sneakers are sparkling clean, you'll want your shoelaces to match.

Step 1: Soak in Soapy Water

Fill a small bowl with warm, soapy water. Add shoelaces to the bowl and let them soak for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Scrub

Scrub the shoelaces clean with a small brush. Pay special attention to dirt and set-in stains.

Step 3: Hang to Dry

Hang shoelaces to dry before relacing your shoes. You can hang them on a doorknob, stair railing, or hanger.

Step 4: Buy New Shoelaces (Optional)

If your shoelaces are beyond cleaning, torn, or fraying, buying a fresh set is an easy and inexpensive way to make your white leather sneakers look brand-new.

How to Get Rid of and Prevent Smells in White Leather Sneakers

To prevent odors from accumulating in your sneakers, it's important to let them air-dry naturally in a well-ventilated area, like under a fan or on an open shoe rack. It's also best to wear leather sneakers (and shoes in general) with socks, which help absorb moisture and can avoid smells in the first place.

If that doesn't help and you need to get rid of already-existing smells, try the following.

Apply a Leather Odor Remover

Use an odor-neutralizing, scent-free leather odor remover on your white leather sneakers. Read the ingredients and instructions carefully before applying to be sure it doesn't damage the leather.

Add Tea Bags

Place a couple of tea bags inside each shoe and let them rest in a dry place for at least 12 hours (or overnight). The tea leaves in the bag will absorb moisture, helping to remove odors.

Try Baking Soda

This is a simple technique for getting rid of smells in white leather sneakers. Sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes and let them dry in a ventilated space for 12 to 24 hours. Wipe off the baking soda with a clean cloth before wearing them.

Use Vinegar

Apply a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water to the inside of the sneaker using a cloth. Let shoes rest in a well-ventilated area for about 15 minutes.

Then, remove the vinegar with a damp cloth and allow the shoes to completely air-dry before wearing. Be sure not to let the vinegar sit on your leather shoes for a long time, as it can dry out and damage the leather.

How to Keep Your White Leather Sneakers Clean Longer

To keep white leather sneakers clean longer, try these tips:

  • Pretreat them with a waterproof or stain-repelling spray that's safe for leather. Apply every few weeks, if necessary. (Check product labels and instructions.)
  • Avoid wearing your white sneakers on rainy days or in areas with lots of dirt or mud.
  • Clean your white leather sneakers regularly, either with the above methods or with a good commercial shoe cleaner, to keep them clean long-term.
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