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The Ultimate Guide for Cleaning White Shoes

The Ultimate Guide for Cleaning White Shoes

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We’ve reached the middle of summer, which means, one, you may be tired of the heat; two, any new swimsuits you bought have definitely been broken in; and, three, our once pristine white tennis shoes are now a not so lovely shade of dirt and grime. Good news: they won’t stay that way.

I dug up the best techniques to return our favorite summer walking shoes to their former glory. Each of the below are methods I would use to clean my own white shoes that have been recommended by multiple reporters. The first important tip: never put your white shoes in the washing machine, unless they are hefty sneakers that can handle getting a little roughed up. Ready to get scrubbing?

SOAK FOR THREE TO FOUR HOURS
What you need: 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar, 1 tablespoon water (some recommend hot water), a small mixing bowl, old toothbrush and a sunny day

To clean: Remove big pieces of dirt. Combine all ingredients in the bowl until it becomes an even paste. De-lace your shoes and gently brush the mixture into the surface. (Press just hard enough to brush away dirt.) Lightly paint on a second coat of the paste and drop your laces into what’s left. Set the shoes and laces outside under the sun and let them sit for three to four hours, until the paste is dry and cracking. Clap your shoes together to get most of the mixture off and brush away the bits that remain.
Watch it before you try it.

TRY A SHORT SOAK
What you need: 1 tablespoon baking soda, ½ tablespoon hydrogen peroxide, ½ tablespoon warm water and an old toothbrush
To clean: Combine all ingredients and gently scrub into shoes. Let sit for 30 minutes and then rinse with water.

FOLLOW TWITTER USER @SARAHTRACEYY’S VIRAL ADVICE
What you need: 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 ½ tablespoons stain removing detergent, old toothbrush and baby powder
To clean: Rinse shoes. Combine baking soda and detergent, scrub on shoes with toothbrush and let it sit. Rinse, wash in the washing machine, cover with baby powder and dry. 

CLEAN LIKE NIKE
What you need: Soft-bristled shoe brush or old toothbrush, warm water, laundry detergent and sponge or soft cloth
To clean: Remove excess dirt with the brush. Mix water and a small amount of laundry detergent to create a slightly soapy mixture. Apply a small amount to the sponge, soft cloth or brush and clean dirty areas. Apply a small amount of warm water to another sponge or soft cloth and remove excess detergent. Air dry at room temperature.

GET RISKY WITH BLEACH
Why it’s risky: Bleach will, technically, remove stains, but there is also a chance you’ll turn your white shoes yellow with too much of it. Mixing one-part bleach to five parts water is recommended. 
To clean: Mix the bleach and water solution in a well-ventilated area and gently scrub shoes using an old toothbrush. Rinse with warm water and air dry, overnight if possible.

SCRUB WITH TOOTHPASTE
What you need: A non-gel white toothpaste (other options will stain), old toothbrush and a damp towel
To clean: Gently scrub your shoes with the toothpaste using the toothbrush, scrubbing in circles over extra-dirty spots. Let the shoes sit for 10 minutes and then use a damp towel to wipe the toothpaste off.

OTHER TIPS

  • Use white nail polish to cover small scratches—it’ll blend right in!
  • Get in the habit of regularly spot cleaning with a wipe, magic eraser or vinegar. Dirt will have less of a chance to soak into the fabric and you won’t have to spend as much time cleaning.
  • Stuff shoes with paper towels to help them dry quicker.
  • Clean oil stains with a mixture of gentle shampoo and warm water. Gently scrub into the fabric with an old toothbrush or a rag as soon as you get home.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure. Too many rays could cause your shoes to fade or become discolored.
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