How to Clean White Shoes to Keep Them Looking Like New

Updated: May 26, 2023

White shoes look great, but they get dirty quickly. Here's how to clean white shoes the right way—including sneakers, leather boots and rubber sandals.

Who doesn’t love a pair of white sneakers? They go with everything and they help you look put-together, as long as they’re clean! And let’s not kid ourselves, they are hard to keep looking brand new. So if you can’t resist a pair of white shoes, you’ll need a sure-fire way to keep them pristine. Here’s how to clean white shoes of every type so they’re always spot-free and ready to wear.

The Best Ways to Clean White Shoes

How to Clean Canvas Shoes

White canvas is durable so it’s OK to clean with the most powerful whitener—bleach. First brush the shoes with a dry nylon brush or toothbrush to get rid of any surface dirt. Then, dilute the bleach by mixing it with water. You only need 1/3 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Dip the brush in the bleach solution then scrub the canvas shoes using a circular motion. Rinse by scrubbing with clean water. Allow them to dry completely, then repeat as needed on stubborn spots.

The Best White Canvas Shoe Cleaner: Clorox Bleach

How to Clean Leather Shoes

White leather shoes should be cleaned with care; too much water or the wrong product can damage the leather and cause the shoes to lose their shape. First, brush or wipe the leather shoes with a damp cloth to get rid of surface debris. Then use a specialized leather cleaner. This top-reviewed cleaner and conditioner is formulated with saddle soap and gentle oils to clean leather and restore moisture. Apply about three small drops on the included brush, then dip the brush in a bowl of water. Scrub shoes gently, then dry with a clean cloth.

The Best White Leather Shoe Cleaner: Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner

How to Clean Mesh Shoes

Some athletic sneakers are made from mesh fabric, or feature nylon mesh detailing; both can easily attract dirt and stains. To clean white mesh shoes, mix a small amount of stain-fighting laundry detergent in a bowl with warm water. Dip a shoe brush in the soapy mixture and gently scrub the shoes, being careful not to snag the mesh. You can wash the sole of the shoe with the same mixture, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

The Best White Mesh Shoe Cleaner: Tide Ultra Stain Release Laundry Detergent

How to Clean Foam or Rubber Shoes

If you have a tween or teen living in your house, they most likely own a pair of Crocs or flip flops; and the white variety get very dirty, very quickly. Luckily cleaning them is simple. Clean rubber or foam shoes with dish soap and water; using a scrub brush, cloth or sponge. You can even throw them in the washing machine on the gentle cycle! For Crocs specifically, Crocs Shine is a specially formulated polish and applicator sponge that removes dirt and restores luster. Simply rub the sponge across the affected areas of your shoes and remove any excess cleaner with a dry paper towel or cloth.

The Best Crocs Cleaner: Crocs Shine

How to Clean White Shoe Laces

Remove the laces from the shoe. Mix 1/3 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water. Submerge the laces in the mixture and let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then lay flat to air dry. You can also toss the laces in a mesh laundry bag and wash them with a regular load of clothes.