At Bata, we understand the love-hate relationship that many people have with their white sneakers. There is nothing quite as satisfying as lacing up gleaming white sneaks and nothing quite as irritating as accidentally stepping in a muddy puddle with a pair on your feet.
For all the potential hardship they bring, though, white sneakers are having a serious moment in the world of shoe fashion, and we are here to tell you that you don’t need to wear them in fear! From DIY solutions that are probably already tucked away in your home to versatile and affordable professional products, keeping your white sneakers white is easier than it has ever been.
So whether you’re already a committed white sneaker fanatic or are looking to create the perfect casual outfit with a shiny pair of white kicks—here is everything you need to know about taking care of white sneakers and keeping those beauties looking their best!
Be proactive in shielding your sneakers from harm
Before we get into what you need to do if it’s already too late for this step, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road by protecting your white sneakers in the first place. You know these spray or rub-on protectors every salesperson suggests? Well, they are worth the investment, especially if you’re dealing with white fabrics. You’ll do your shoes a lot of good by simply giving them a quick treatment every few weeks. Our Leather Balm and Waterproof Protector are both made to protect shoes from dirt and stains, so you can feel more carefree while they’re on your feet.
Invest in a few broadly functional products
Remember that you don’t need to buy a whole set of new products just to use on your white shoes. The same items you use to clean other pairs, like a solid shoe brush and cleaning wipes, can also be used on your white shoes.
These products are easy to use, don’t involve any mess or clean-up and always leave your shoes with a pleasant scent. Our Sneaker Shampoo works great and is an eco-friendly cleaner suitable for most types of sneakers and casual shoes. And for those really dedicated to the cause of keeping their white footwear immaculate, we even have Shoe White, which is formulated with a high brightness whitening agent to hide scuffs and lines without leaving streaks or a chalky residue.
The at-home cleaning supplies you probably already have on hand
All that said, if you’re at home, need to freshen up some white sneakers, and don’t have time to run out and get any specialised products—you’re in luck! You probably already have everything you need to seriously improve the look of your sneaks stashed away in a cabinet. For a quick DIY clean, you’ll want to track down some combination of the following:
- A shoe brush or old toothbrush
- Gentle wipes
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
Wipe your white sneakers after every wear
If you’re in the fortunate situation that your white sneakers are already stain-free, you want to keep them this way with some simple post-wear care. After taking your shoes off, begin by gently brushing off dirt with a dry brush, then use a mild cleaner to wipe them down. You can also use a handy shoe cleaning wipe or a damp cloth with a drop of mild soap to wipe the shoes clean.
Deep cleaning white sneakers
Of course, chances are you aren’t going to clean your shoes every single time you get home—so here are some methods for giving them a good deep clean after several wears.
Clean white sneakers with baking soda
Cleaning your white shoes with baking soda is a handy alternative to professional products, as it is a common household item that is readily available. For this process, you just need baking soda, white vinegar, and a toothbrush.
First, mix a tablespoon of hot water with equal parts white vinegar and baking soda. Next, work the ingredients into a paste and apply it all over the shoe (sole included) with the brush. Rub the paste in using a circular motion and when done, place the shoes somewhere dry and warm (outside in the shadow) for a few hours. Afterwards, shake off the dry mixture by clapping the shoes together or using the brush.
Make white sneakers sparkle with toothpaste
No baking soda on hand? We are willing to bet you have toothpaste, though! Here you’re just swapping one for the other. Instead of the baking soda paste mentioned above, substitute white toothpaste. Once the toothpaste is on the sneakers, let it harden for a few hours and dust off the dry paste.
Try a bleach solution for tough stains
This method isn’t for everyone, and you should be aware that bleach does have a pronounced odour. But it can also be an effective way to clean white sneakers. Simply add a couple of drops to hot water, then use a toothbrush to apply the solution all over the shoes. Before letting the shoe dry, rinse the mixture off with a damp cloth to avoid having the smell of bleach linger in your kicks.
Pro Tip #1: Brush, Don’t Scrub
Keep in mind that the way you apply these solutions matters. It is not true that the harder you brush your shoes, the cleaner they’ll get. In fact, brushing too hard may loosen fabrics and give your sneakers that worn-out look. Instead, use a medium-bristle shoe brush or an old toothbrush and work in soft rapid strokes.
Pro Tip #2: Remember to Wash Laces Separately
If your laces also require cleaning, remove them before cleaning the sneakers and hand wash in a small container with laundry detergent and warm water. Make sure the laces are completely dry before lacing up the sneakers again!
Give each material the most appropriate treatment
If you’re not quite sure which method makes the most sense for you, here is our advice for exactly how to clean common sneaker types from canvas to leather.
White Mesh Shoes
Mesh is a delicate material and won’t stand up to harsher treatments. You definitely want to avoid bleach and opt instead for a sneaker cleaner or a bit of mild dish soap mixed with warm water. Gently brush the cleaner all over your dirty sneakers and then rinse your shoes under cold water.
White Running Sneaks
Begin by removing any visible dirt or debris with a brush. Then, using a sponge, cloth, or brush, apply a small amount of sneaker cleaner (or gentle laundry detergent mixed with warm water) to the dirty parts. With tough stains, simply keep repeating until they’re gone.
White Canvas Kicks
Although those stains can look daunting, cotton canvas is relatively easy to clean. Just brush it with sneaker cleaner that’s mixed with lukewarm water and leave them out to dry. (They’ll look darker at first but give them an hour or so, and they’ll look white as new.) Or, you can use one of the homemade remedies mentioned above—like baking soda paste. Apply the mixture all over your shoes with a brush, let them dry thoroughly, then shake and wipe off the hardened mixture.
White Leather or White Suede Sneakers
For leather, we find that toothpaste is your best bet if you don’t have a specialised product available. So get your brush ready and gently scrub away any stains and dirty spots. It is honestly quite amazing how well this trick works.
On the other hand, Suede can be a little tricky since it is a delicate fabric that stains easily. Our Clean Wipes work wonders here, but in a pinch, we recommend using an eraser or soft cloth dipped in white vinegar to gently rub away any stains. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to allow your shoes to dry and then rub the outside of each shoe with a suede brush. This will help them get that velvety texture back.
As you can see, keeping your white sneakers white doesn’t have to give you a headache. With a few simple shoe cleaning hacks, you can keep your kicks looking fresh for years to come!