Experts Advice on How to Clean White Canvas Sneakers

how to clean white canvas sneakers

Canvas sneakers are very popular among sneaker heads. They are undeniably good looking and will always look perfect on any outfit. If you have a pair or two white canvas sneakers at home, then of course you need to understand the best ways on how to clean white canvas shoes properly. Actually, cleaning them is quite easy and straightforward if you know how to do it properly.

Below, I have some top-notch tips and techniques for cleaning white canvas sneakers for you to check out. The information is based on a thorough analysis of the best shoe cleaning methods, so I can assure you the following guide is highly reliable. Before we go into the details, let me share my top three most effective methods for cleaning sneakers, which I think you need to have at home.

ItemsAdvantage(s)Best forRate
Shoe cleanerSpecially formulated for shoes that cleans the shoes properly without ruining them.Canvas shoes9/10
Baking soda and vinegar comboNatural ingredients that are safe for the environment, and able to whiten dingy shoes in no time.Canvas Shoes9/10
Mild liquid laundry detergentAlternative cleaning agent for shoesCanvas Shoes8,5/10

I. Cleaning Kits

Now let’s make sure you have the cleaning kit ready before we move to with the fun part, which is the cleaning process. For your easy reference, I have prepared a list of cleaning kits below, which are based on what I’ve learned from qualified professionals in shoe cleaning.

  • Shoe Cleaner: Special solution to clean your shoes.
  • Apron: Keep your shirt clean from dirt while cleaning.
  • Premium Brush: Remove dust and dirt from the canvas surface.
  • Medium Brush: Scrub stubborn stains and dirt off the midsole.
  • Standard Brush: Clean the outsole area of the shoes.
  • Small Brush or Toothbrush: Clean the narrow and hard-to-reach area of the shoes.
  • Micro Fiber Cloth: Wipe the dirt and suds off the shoes after cleaning.
  • Shoe Tree: Maintain the shape of the shoes while cleaning.
  • Washbowl: Container to mix the water and the shoe cleaner.

II. Cleaning Steps

Getting your canvas shoes white again requires several careful steps so they don’t turn yellow or damaged. Below is the basic tutorial on how to clean white canvas sneakers properly based on credible sources in the shoe industry. I have tried the method myself, and it is confirmed to be effective.

Step 1: Get the White Canvas Shoes to Clean

Take a pair of dirty white canvas shoes and knock them together to remove big clumps of dirt or mud. I always do this step to get the shoes ready for easier cleaning.

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Kits

Now get those cleaning kits mentioned before ready! Prepare the shoe cleaner, a set of brushes, a microfiber cloth, two shoetrees, and a container filled with water. Formulate the cleaning solution by combining shoe cleaner with water in the container.

Step 3: Take the Laces Off the Shoes

Before jumping into the cleaning process, it’s important to take care of the shoelaces as well. Remove them from the shoe and submerge them in the cleaning mixture poured into a separate bowl. Set aside while you’re working on the shoes.

Step 4: Put the Shoe Tree Inside the Shoes

Yank the insoles out and replace them with a shoetree on each. Don’t force remove the insoles if they’re permanently glued. Then, put one shoetree on each shoe to avoid creases.

Step 5: Brush the Dust Off

Dust the canvas sneakers off with a premium brush to remove debris and dirt that stick to the surface to remove the first layer of grime.

Step 6: Clean the Outsole and Midsole

Dip a standard brush into the cleaning formula and scrub the outsole clean. Repeat the same for the midsole, but use a medium brush. You need to be extra thorough and press heavily while scrubbing the midsole clean since the area is much dirtier. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the remaining suds off.

Step 7: Clean the Upper Shoe Area

Use a premium brush for cleaning the upper shoes to minimize scratches. Just brush gently and don’t go too hard, then tap the surface lightly with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the cleaning process if you still notice yellowish stains or dirt in the area.

Step 8: Clean the Shoe Insole Area

One note to remember while cleaning shoes: don’t forget the inside! Use a small brush or a toothbrush to scrub the filth out from the inner shoe which is harder to reach. Don’t push too hard if the brush doesn’t fit. 

Step 9: Clean the Small Details

I have two different methods to try. The first is wiping the detailed area or the shoes with a wet microfiber cloth. Alternatively, use dampened tissue paper to cover the entire upper and allow them to sit and absorb the remaining dirt. You can read my experience using the two methods in the table below.

Microfiber clothMore durable.A bit expensive.9/10
Excellent water absorbance.
Tissue paperAffordable.Generates a lot of waste6/10
Not environmentally friendly

Step 10: Let the Shoes Air Dry

Let the shoes and their laces sit by the fan for 1 to 2 hours. Never dry white shoes under direct sunlight to prevent yellowing.

Step 11: Re-assemble

After they’re dry, make sure that your white canvas shoes look crisp and white again. Remove the shoetrees and put the laces back. Now you can show them off once again!

III. Alternative Ways to Clean White Canvas Sneakers

how to clean white canvas sneakers

Baking soda is a holy grail for cleaning basically everything, including a pair of grimy white canvas sneakers. Here are some of the best trusty methods for how to clean white canvas shoes with a combination of baking soda that I’ve proven to be efficient.

a. Baking Soda with Detergent

  • Mix 1/3 part of the baking soda with 2/3 part of the powdered detergent.
  • Pat the powder to the canvas shoe’s surface with the help of a plastic spoon.
  • Let the shoes sit for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Brush the detergent and baking soda mixture off the shoes and rinse with warm water.
  • Leave the shoes to air dry.

b. Using Baking Soda with Vinegar

  • Combine baking soda with vinegar in a bowl with the same ratio until forms a thick paste.
  • Apply the paste to the shoe’s surface with the help of an old toothbrush in a circular motion to effectively remove dirt and stains.
  • Let the paste stay for a few hours.
  • Use a dry brush to scrape the dry and hardened paste off the shoes. Take a clean soft cloth to wipe the shoes clean.
  • Rinse in warm water and allow to air dry completely.

c. Baking Soda with Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide in a ratio of 2:1.
  • Apply the mixture to the sole and upper white canvas shoes with a toothbrush. 
  • Set them aside to air dry for about half an hour.
  • Rinse the shoes with cold water to ensure that no particle is left.

The table below shows some comparisons between each method. From my authentic review and credible resources verified by experts, vinegar and baking soda combo is the most worthy mixture for cleaning your white canvas sneakers. After I tested the method myself, my shoes look crisp and smell fresh like new.

Products added with baking sodaPro(s)Con(s)Rate
DetergentAffordableThe granules might stick to the shoes.8/10
Easy to use
VinegarEnvironmentally safe.Leaving an unpleasant smell for a while.9/10
Acts as a disinfecting agent.
Hydrogen PeroxideEco-friendly.Costly.8.5/10
Help remove unpleasant smells.

d. Using Washing Machine

how to clean white canvas sneakers

Some canvas shoes are safe enough to endure heavy banging and tossing in the drum, while others may be too delicate and can’t stand the method. Hence it’s important to always check and read the instruction tag.

When it comes to the best way on how to clean white canvas sneakers with a washing machine, let’s jump into the step-by-step guide below, which is based on my knowledge to bring you the most reliable tutorial on how to machine-washed your shoes effectively.

  • Take the shoelaces off and soak them in a cleaning solution made from water and a baking soda mixture.
  • Place the canvas shoes into the washing machine.
  • Add a small amount of mild liquid detergent. 
  • Run the machine with cold water and the most gentle cycle. Wait until finished.
  • Take the shoes out and leave them to air dry along with the laces.
  • Once dry, put the shoelaces back and your white canvas shoes are no longer filthy!

Personally speaking, I’m satisfied with the result of using a washing machine since the experts have carefully curated the most ideal method. In the table below, I’ll show a comparison between two different methods for cleaning white canvas shoes.

Washing machineEasy and hassle-free.Only works best for canvas shoes.
Won’t cause a big mess.Might damage your shoes in the long run.
Use a lot of electric power.
Hand washYou can adjust the right pressure for each area.Need a lot of work and sweat.
Prolong shoes’ lifetime.Can be a bit messy in the process
Use almost no electricity power

d. Using OxiClean

Do you know that stubborn stains on white canvas shoes can fade easily with the help of OxiClean? I guarantee this stain remover brand can help brighten up a pair of your grungy canvas shoes, and it is a fact that has been validated by several masters of shoe cleaners I know. Without further ado, here’s how I clean white canvas shoes with Oxiclean.

  • Remove the laces and insoles, then toss the two inside a mesh laundry bag for machine washing. 
  • Brush the shoes carefully to remove the remaining dirt and debris.
  • Dilute a one-quarter cup of OxiClean with one gallon of warm water and combine them until homogenous.
  • Soak the shoes in the mixture and leave for about 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how grimy they are.
  • When done, utilize an old toothbrush to scrub the remaining dirt and rinse them clean. 
  • Pat the shoes dry with a clean towel inside and out.
  • Stuff the inside with newspaper to absorb excess moisture and leave the shoes to dry in a sheltered area. Dry the laces and insoles as well. 
  • Once dry, put the laces and insoles back.

Honestly, my white canvas shoes look new and brighter after using Oxiclean on them. Another advantage I get from the product is it also disinfects my shoes and eliminates the unpleasant odor.

IV. How to Clean White Canvas Shoes that Turned Yellow

Besides getting filthy, another common problem with owning a pair of white sneakers is yellowing. Sweat and dirt accumulation, sun exposure, and wrong cleaning method are some factors that contribute to their yellowing. Afraid not if your shoes face this issue! Our qualified experts have gathered some trusted methods on how to clean white canvas sneakers that turned yellow, and here are two methods that I think come as the best ones so far.

a. Bleach

  • Remove the laces and insoles from the shoes, then dust them clean.
  • Dilute 1 part of bleach with 5 parts of water in a bucket and mix them thoroughly. 
  • Work the solution into the shoe’s surface by scrubbing in a circular motion with a toothbrush.
  • Soak the laces in the cleaning solution and massage them lightly as well to let the solution seeps into the laces.
  • Rinse shoes and laces with running water and allow them to dry for several hours overnight.

b. Whitening Toothpaste

  • Squeeze some of the toothpaste into an old toothbrush.
  • Apply the paste to the stained area in a circular motion.
  • Allow the toothpaste to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes in a sheltered room.
  • Wipe the excess with a damp towel and repeat the process until you get the desired result.

The table here shows what I think of each method. Note that I’ve tried both ways to get my canvas sneakers white again. Personally speaking, bleach has a better impact to whiten my shoes compared to whitening toothpaste.

BleachYields better results.Not environmentally safe.
Disinfecting shoes from bacteria.Causes skin irritation and respiratory problem if inhaled.
Whitening toothpasteCan be found easily at home.You have to repeat the process numerous times to get the desired result.
Affordable price.

V. How to Clean White Canvas Shoes Quickly

Sometimes we don’t have much time to scrub our white canvas and wait for them to dry for hours. While in a rush, I have some proven cleaning techniques from our reputable specialists to try on how to clean white canvas sneakers and make them look fine as new. These methods will enlighten you on how to clean white canvas shoes quickly and hassle-free.

a. Acetone or Rubbing Alcohol

  • Pour the liquid of your choice onto the cotton ball.
  • Blot the stained area by patting them with a dampened cotton ball. 
  • Lift carefully and you’ll notice that the stains are gradually transferred.
  • Repeat the process until all stains come off, then wipe the acetone-affected area with a damp clean cloth.
  • Now your white canvas shoes are ready to be shown off again!

b. Magic Eraser

  • Damp the eraser before use and squeeze the excess water so your canvas shoes don’t get soaked.
  • Rub the dirty or stained area with enough force. This can also fade visible scuff marks on the midsole.
  • Wipe the particles off with a clean cloth and your white canvas shoes look fabulous again in no time!

As much as I like using acetone for quick cleaning, the magic eraser takes the cake for overall effectiveness, and here’s why:

Acetone or rubbing alcoholQuick and easy to use.Only works for the rubber parts of the shoes
Evaporate quickly, thus no need to dryCan ruin the canvas material.
Magic eraserVery convenient to use.Falling particles from the eraser cause a mess.
Can be done for both fabric and rubber parts of the shoes.

VI. How to Clean White Nike Canvas Shoes

On its website, Nike provides some ways on how to clean white canvas sneakers effectively. While some of those have been covered in the previous part of this article, we’ll talk about the other methods in this section. Keep reading to know more about how to clean white Nike canvas shoes.

a. Mild Laundry Detergent

  • Combine some mild laundry detergent with warm water until forms a homogenous soapy mixture.
  • Start with the upper, and use a toothbrush to apply the soapy solution to the surface. Work the mixture in a circular motion to get rid of dirt and stains.
  • Repeat the process for the midsole and outsole.
  • Wipe the excess suds with a dampened clean towel.

b. Toilet Paper

  • Wet some tissue paper with mere water, then cover the upper shoes with it similar to paper mache. Repeat the process until you end up with a pair of ‘mummified’ shoes. 
  • Leave the shoes to dry in a sheltered area for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Once the tissue papers are dry, peel them off. You’ll be surprised by how much dirt and stains are lifted from the shoes by this method.

In my case, these two work just fine and can be easily done. To be honest, I prefer the first method since my shoes get clean in a quite short amount of time. The table below will explain this in detail.

Mild laundry detergentEffective for removing dirt and stainsCan be a bit messy.
Toilet paperEasy to do.Waste a lot of tissue paper.
Takes longer time.

VII. Do’s and Dont’s

Clean the shoes thoroughly.Leave shoes damp after cleaning and not drying them quickly.
Brush the shoes gently and carefully.Dry shoes under direct sunlight.
Use a clean brush to clean white shoes.Wear white shoes outdoors during rainy days.
Give your shoes regular cleaning, especially after being used every day.

VIII. Shoe Care Tips

Aside from just cleaning them properly, there are some quick tips on how to keep your white canvas sneakers clean. Here are some of my secret tips on how to keep my white white shoes clean:

  • Avoid storing shoes in a moist or humid place.
  • Don’t overlap the shoes while putting them on the rack.
  • If your white shoes turn yellow, repaint them with a paint specialized for shoes.
  • Keep white shoes away from outdoor activities.
  • Always spot clean shoes regularly after use.

IX. Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

1. What is the fastest way to clean white canvas sneakers?

The fastest way on how to clean white canvas sneakers is either using a magic eraser or acetone. According to my experience, the first one is guaranteed to make your shoes white and crisp again without needing to spend hours struggling with brush and cleaning solutions. As for the latter method, the acetone can simply evaporate after you’re done removing stains from the white canvas shoes. It’s safe to say those two have always been my go-to methods while in a rush.

2. What is the best way to clean canvas shoes?

Hand washing is arguably the best way to clean canvas shoes, and I’ll explain why. Unlike using the washer, you can apply different pressure on each part of the shoes and minimize the damage from excessive tumbling in the machine. While some canvas shoes are built to stand against the rigorous way of cleaning, their shape can change in the long run.

3. What is the easiest way to clean white sneakers?

There is more than one easiest way to clean white sneakers. From my viewpoint, using a washing machine to clean them is quite easy and has no fuss. You don’t have to deal with messy suds and greasing your elbows while rubbing the dirt and stains off.

4. Can you use Dawn dish soap on canvas shoes?

Indeed, you can use Dawn dish soap on canvas shoes, but there’s something that I need to point out. I only use a few drops of it and mix them into a cup of warm water because when you add too much soap, it can damage the material. If you don’t have a shoe cleaner, dish soap can be a great substitute.

5. Can Magic Eraser be used on canvas shoes?

Yes, Magic Eraser can be used on canvas shoes. Before using it, you need to wet the melamine sponge with water so the magic can work properly. While you scrub the dirty or scuffed area of the shoes, the magic eraser might crumble a bit, so I advise laying a newspaper down to catch them all (or scrubbing over a garbage can).

6. Can I bleach my canvas shoes?

Yes, you can bleach canvas shoes with some precautions. First, always get protective gear because bleach can potentially harm you. Another thing to remember is to do this method in a well-ventilated area so you don’t inhale too many dangerous chemicals. You have to dilute the bleach with a generous amount of water because it’s too strong. As far as I know, this method isn’t recommended to be used all the time because bleach is a strong chemical that can wear down canvas material in the long run.

7. Does hydrogen peroxide whiten canvas shoes?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide can whiten canvas shoes, but there’s more of it. Another good news is it can be useful for disinfecting. Now that you understand, it’s time to say goodbye to the bacteria and fungus that linger on the shoes and make them smell nasty!

8. Does toothpaste clean white canvas shoes?

Absolutely, toothpaste can clean white canvas shoes with little to no effort. One tip thing to remember is to use the whitening and non-gel ones. True to its name, the whitening toothpaste makes your white canvas shoes look as good as new. Based on my experience, gel toothpaste causes stains instead of cleaning.

9. What can I spray on canvas shoes to keep clean?

You can spray a layer of stain and water repellant to keep your canvas shoes clean. This protective layer can help the shoes stay clean for a longer time, so you don’t have to wash them as often. I recommend cleaning your canvas shoes and drying them properly before adding a protective layer of dirt repellent.

X. Summary

In a nutshell, owning a pair (or more) of white canvas sneakers is an excellent choice for your wardrobe. It’s also important to take care of the shoes properly to maintain their whiteness and prolong their life so you can wear them for more years to come.