In this guide:
If you’ve ever owned white shoes, you’ve probably been frustrated when they start to look grubby far too prematurely.
A staple of summer wardrobes, white shoes can brighten up an outfit. They also, thankfully, help to reduce the amount our feet sweat in the sun – due to their ability to reflect light. With that in mind, it’s important to keep them in top condition.
Check out these tips and tricks to keep your white shoes and trainers looking good as new for longer.
Cleaning white shoes
There are a few tried-and-tested ways of cleaning white shoes that don’t cost a fortune.
Simple household products can be just as good as cleaning solutions – if not better. These are some of the most effective cleaning methods.
Best for: whitening the soles of white trainers
Step by step:
- Using a toothbrush, massage some toothpaste into the affected area
- After five minutes, use a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess toothpaste
- Once fully cleaned, your white trainers should look as good as new
Best for: cleaning white canvas shoes
Step by step:
- Only use lemon juice on canvas kicks – never on white leather shoes, nubuck or suede
- Spray your canvas shoes with a little lemon juice and leave them in the sun
- The acidity of the lemon juice will break down any dirt or debris that’s causing your shoes to look stained
Best for: removing excess dirt
Step by step:
- Use a soft-bristled brush to gently rub the detergent onto your shoes
- Once you’ve removed the excess dirt, dip a clean cloth into diluted laundry detergent and rub it onto your shoes
- Let the detergent sit on your shoes for a couple of minutes before using a fresh, clean cloth to wipe them clean
- If the stains don’t budge after the first attempt, repeat the process using bicarbonate of soda instead of detergent
What not to do
Whatever you do, don’t throw your white shoes in the washing machine. This can damage your shoes.
If your white shoes are suede or nubuck leather, you should avoid using any cleaning method that involves water. This can cause the material to stain and can leave water marks. Use a soft bristle brush to remove any built-up dirt instead.
How to whiten your shoes
Over time, there’s a good chance that your white shoes will start to change colour. This can be down to various reasons – from the environment they’re worn in, to how they’re stored.
What causes my white shoes to turn blue?
White shoes are often stained blue through the transfer of colour from your jeans. That could be because of wearing, or due to storing the two together on a regular basis.
- Top tip. The best way to remove blue stains from your white leather shoes is with a cotton bud and some nail polish remover. You can further protect your white leather shoes by using an appropriately-coloured balm after cleaning, to prevent the leather from drying out.
Why have my white shoes turned yellow?
It’s not uncommon for white shoes, particularly canvas ones, to turn yellow over time – especially after being stored away during the winter. As shoes get older, they become more prone to discolouration and come into contact with more things that can stain them.
- Top tip. Now and then, put your shoes in sunlight for a couple of hours. This will naturally bleach the material without harmful chemicals. Avoid using bleach, which can cause natural materials to break down over time – further damaging your shoes.
How to protect white trainers and shoes
There are many ways that you can protect white shoes against stains, water marks and dirt.
- Protective spray. This method is particularly useful for suede and nubuck leather. It doesn’t need to be worked into the shoe, minimising the chance of further stains.
- Another way to protect your white canvas shoes against marks and stains is with wax. Cover the upper part of your shoe using a clear or white candle. Once completely covered, use a hairdryer to melt the wax into the shoe. This protects against stains and dirt build-up, and also helps with waterproofing shoes and boots.
- Nail polish. When wearing heeled shoes, it’s easy to scuff the heels and toes, which can look unsightly. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that scuffs are permanent, so a cover up is needed. Using a good quality white nail polish should do the trick when hiding smaller scuff marks and will also prevent them from stretching.
Wear them worry-free
White shoes can be a fantastic addition to your wardrobe – especially during the summer months. Realistically, you’re going to pick up stains here and there along the way. However, with these tips and tricks about how to clean white shoes, you should be able to wear them without worrying.