Seeing White: How to Keep Your Favorite White Shoes Clean

This past summer, white shoes have been all the rage, and chances are, you already have a pair on heavy rotation in your own closet. They’re the perfect accessory with any summer outfit, but the arrival of autumn and it's drastic weather changes can wreak havoc on your favorite white shoes. Not to worry, follow these tips for cleaning them and you’re favorite white shoes will look fresh out of the box every time you put them on.

1. Vinegar

This is by far my favorite way to spot clean white shoes. Start by filling a small bowl with distilled white vinegar. The amount you need just depends on how dirty the shoes are. Dip a clean sponge into the vinegar and spot clean any stains. You may have to repeat this two or three times in order to fully remove the stain. I’ve used this multiple times and it works on anything from dirt and grass stains to anything else you can think of!

 

2. Rubbing Alcohol

If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet can be just as effective. It works the same as using vinegar, pour some into a bowl and use a clean sponge or toothbrush to spot clean as needed.

3. Bleach

Wearing your white slip ons out on a late night, post-frat party pizza run? Probably not the best idea - but not to worry, it happens to the best of us! Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on the side of bleach container to make sure you’re proportioning enough bleach to water. Again, dip a clean sponge or toothbrush into the solution and rub gently onto stains, then rinse with clean water. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, preferably in clothes you wouldn't mind ruining. For smaller, lighter stains, use vinegar or rubbing alcohol first. For really stuck on, difficult stains, bleach is the way to go.

 

4. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

Mixing baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water is a good alternative to vinegar and rubbing alcohol. The only downside is that this method takes slightly longer, so don’t plan on wearing them out right away. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a 1.5 teaspoons each of hydrogen peroxide or warm water. Use a sponge or toothbrush to rub the mixture directly onto the shoes. Allow the solution to fully dry (about 30 minutes) before wiping them down thoroughly with clean water. This may require multiple repeats, so I’d suggest first using vinegar or bleach in order to save time.

 

4. Storage

Leaving white shoes outside or in direct sunlight can cause them to fade or discolor. When you’re not wearing them, be sure to store your shoes indoors and away from windows.

 

5. Don’t Use the Washing Machine

Many people’s first instinct is to throw their shoes in the washing machine whenever they get dirty. However, even washing shoes on the gentle cycle can cause them to come apart and wear out sooner. If you can, use one of the methods above, it may take longer, but it’s worth it.

6. Be Careful

Obviously, you want to keep your white shoes as white as possible without having to clean them, so be mindful of where you wear them and in what conditions. Make sure to check the weather before you leave, the easiest way to ruin a good pair of shoes is wearing them out in a thunderstorm or torrential rain! Wearing your Chuck Taylor converse on a trip into a city or on a night out might sound like a great idea at first, but keep in mind that these places can be pretty dirty. Excessive walking, use of public transportation, etc. can all cause shoes to get pretty banged up. That’s not to say that you should never wear them out of the house, but just be aware. This may seem excessive, but believe me, you’ll be grateful when you don’t have to sit on your bathroom floor next to a bottle of bleach, rubbing pizza stains off your shoes. Just take good care of your whites, and you’ll save a whole lot of money!

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4