How to Clean White Shoes from Dirt and Stain

What do you need to know about white shoes?

White shoes have become a staple and must-have item in the wardrobe. Along with other neutral-colored shoes, white shoes are considered the most versatile footwear. They become popular in the late 60s or early 70s. Up to these days, you can easily find and spot people who wear white shoes on a daily basis.

Why do white shoes become popular?

You might wonder what makes white shoes get widespread among fashion enthusiasts and other people. Here are some reasons why.

  1. White shoes are very versatile and provide a good balance to the overall look, whether you wear patterned or plain outfits.
  2. White shoes are the perfect footwear option for various occasions, from semi-formal to casual or even party events.
  3. White shoes go well with everything, from casual jeans and t-shirt combo to dresses and suits.
  4. White shoes are timeless footwear for a long time that will never run out of style.

Now that you’ve understood about white shoes and the reason behind their popularity, let’s move on to how to care for them. As you might know, white shoes get dirty much easier than black or other darker colors. Another problem is white shoes turn yellow after a while due to use.

Similar to other things, you have to take good care of your white shoes. There are many things to do to keep them durable for a long time. One of them is cleaning them regularly to avoid dirt and stain accumulation that causes damage and makes your shoes look unflattering.

If you own a pair of dirty, stained, or yellowing white shoes and wish for them to look great again, you’ve come to the right place! This article will guide you on how to clean white shoes and explain the kits required for cleaning them. Keep reading to find useful information and tips on cleaning white shoes.

A. Cleaning Kits and Their Functions

– Shoe cleaner

how to clean white shoes

True to its name, this cleaner is used for cleaning shoes. If you don’t have one, you can use laundry detergent, or dish soap and baking soda mixture as an alternative.


how to clean white shoes

Apron functions to protect your clothes from dirt, stain, and mess while cleaning the shoes.

– Premium brush

how to clean white shoes

There are many types of brushes, but the premium brush is the best option for cleaning the upper part of the shoe. The brush’s bristles are from animal hair, so that’s ideal for various materials, such as canvas, suede, leather, synthetic leather, mesh, knit, nubuck, and others.

– Medium brush

how to clean white shoes

The medium brush is the item you’ll use to clean the midsole area. Also known as an all-purpose brush, this kit has strong bristles that will get rid of dirt and stain from the midsole.

– Standard brush

how to clean white shoes

The standard brush is perfect for cleaning the shoe outsole. The brush’s bristles are from durable synthetic materials that are strong enough for scrubbing stubborn dirt and stains off from the outsole.

– Small brush or toothbrush

how to clean white shoes

This type of brush is perfect for cleaning the narrow and hard-to-reach inside part of the shoe. You can replace the small brush with a toothbrush as they have the same function.

Microfiber cloth

how to clean white shoes

This type of cloth is used to wipe the dirt off the shoes. Microfiber cloths are woven from synthetic yarn, nylon, and polyester which makes them have high absorbance and last longer than ordinary cloths.

Shoe tree

how to clean white shoes

The shoe tree is a device with a similar shape to human feet placed inside the shoe to keep it in shape, prevent creases, and extend the shoe’s life.


how to clean white shoes

Washbowl functions as a container for creating the water and shoe cleaner solution. You can use the plastic washbowl that’s light and durable.

Shoe perfume

how to clean white shoes

This additional kit provides a refreshing scent on your shoe after being cleaned. You don’t have to use shoe perfume, but if you want to add some fragrance to the footwear, then you’ll need this one.

B. What Cleaning Kits to Use on Each Shoe Part?

A shoe has different parts from different materials. To use the proper brush for each shoe part, let’s take a look at these important points.

Upper Shoe

As the name mentions, this part is on the very top of the shoe. The upper shoe is made from numerous materials, mostly lightweight fabrics or leather. You can use a premium brush to clean the upper shoe from dirt and stains without leaving scratches that can damage the shoe’s look.


The midsole is the side part of the shoes, sandwiched between the insole and outsole. This part often got scratched and dirty due to use. The ideal kit to clean this part is the medium brush with strong bristles.

– Outsole

The outsole is at the bottom of the shoe and has direct contact with the ground. To clean this part, use the hard and sturdy standard brush to scrub the dirt off and make it clean.


You can find the insole inside the shoes. It functions as cushioning that provides comfort while being used. Ideally, you might want to use a premium brush or a toothbrush to clean the hard-to-reach and narrow inside. It’s better to remove the insole first before cleaning it, but don’t force remove it if the insole is attached because it might cause damage.

C. How to Clean White Shoes

After you understand the cleaning kits and their functions, it’s time to clean the shoes for real! Here is our tutorial on how to clean white shoes.

Prepare white shoes to be cleaned

how to clean white shoes

First, prepare a pair of dirty white shoes that you want to clean.

Prepare the cleaning kits

how to clean white shoes

After the shoes are ready, now let’s prepare the cleaning kits. Take shoe cleaner, various types of brush (premium, medium, standard, and small), a microfiber cloth, 2 shoe trees, a washbowl filled with water, and shoe perfume. Don’t forget to wear an apron so you won’t get dirt on your clothes.

Take the shoelaces off

how to clean white shoes

Cleaning the shoelaces is as important as cleaning the shoes themselves. The next step is taking the shoelaces off the shoes. Mix water with shoe cleaner in a separate bowl, then submerge the shoelaces into the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the shoelaces and set them aside.

– Put a shoe tree on each shoe

how to clean white shoes

Next, remove the insole and put a shoe tree on each shoe to maintain its shape and keep it sturdy. The same goes for the irremovable insole.

– Dry cleaning

how to clean white shoes

Now we’ll start cleaning! Take a premium brush, then rub the upper shoes gently to remove dirt and stains there.

– Clean the outsole and midsole

how to clean white shoes

After you’re done cleaning the upper shoe, now it’s time to clean the outsole and midsole. Take a standard brush, then dip it into the water and shoe cleaner mixture to scrub the dirt and stains off the outsole. For the dirty midsole, follow the previous step, this time use a medium brush to remove dirt and stains there. You need to scrub thoroughly and pay attention so you don’t miss any dirt or stain there. Wipe the dirt with a microfiber cloth and repeat the process until it’s all clean.

– Clean the upper shoe

how to clean white shoes

Take a premium brush, then dip into the water and shoe cleaner mixture before scrubbing the upper shoe. Repeat the process until there’s no more dirt and yellow stain on the shoe. Don’t use a standard brush to clean the upper shoe, because it might cause scratches and damage.

– Clean the inside of the shoe

how to clean white shoes

The next step is cleaning the inside part of the shoe. Dab a small brush into the water and shoe cleaner mixture and scrub the inside part until it’s clean. You can replace the small brush with a premium one, but don’t force the brush to get into the narrow inside. After the scrubbing is done, wipe the dirt off with a microfiber cloth.

– Detailing

how to clean white shoes

The next step is cleaning the small details and parts of the shoes, also known as detailing. Use a wet microfiber cloth to clean the dirty details of the shoes, like the eyelets, as the cloth has excellent absorbance and the ability to remove dirt and stain. Alternatively, you can substitute the cloth with wet tissue, but it might be not as effective as the microfiber cloth. Submerge some tissue papers into the water, then cover the upper shoe with them. Wait until dirt and stains got absorbed into the tissue paper.

– Drying process

how to clean white shoes

After your shoes are clean, it’s time to dry them. Avoid drying shoes under direct sunlight, and use a fan to dry the shoes and shoelaces for around 1 to 2 hours.

– Finishing

how to clean white shoes

After the shoes are dry, check again to make sure they’re clean and white, with no dirt and stain left behind. Take the shoe tree off and put back the shoelaces. Now your white shoes are clean and ready to wear!

D. Shoe Cleaning Alternative

how to clean white shoes

If you don’t have a shoe cleaner, don’t worry! You can replace it with laundry detergent, both powder and liquid ones work well for getting rid of dirt and stain from the shoes. Here are some steps on how to clean white shoes with detergent

  1. Prepare the detergent, make sure that it doesn’t have ingredients that can damage your shoes.
  2. Pour the detergent into a container, then mix with cold water until the water turns soapy. If you use powder detergent, make sure that the granules are dissolved nicely so it doesn’t get stuck inside the shoe.
  3. Take off the shoelaces and brush the shoes while they’re still dry.
  4. Apply the mixture to the outsole, midsole, and upper shoe with a small brush. Scrub gently on each part to remove dirt and stains.
  5. Let them sit for an hour, then wipe off the dirt with damp clothes.
  6. Leave the shoes for air drying, or use a fan to speed up the drying process.
  7. Put the shoelaces back once they’re dry.
  8. Your shoes are now ready to wear and look clean!

E. Do’s and don’ts


  • Scrub the dirt and stain off the shoes thoroughly and don’t miss a spot.
  • Scrub the shoes gently to avoid scratches and damage.


F. Shoe Care

– Don’t store shoes in a humid environment

how to clean white shoes

Storing your shoes in a humid environment is a bad idea. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus, and mold grow rapidly in such an environment and cause problems for your lovely shoes. Your shoes can get smelly and moldy, the fabric can be damaged, and the sole will lose because the glue is weakened. To avoid this problem, keep your shoe in a dry and clean environment, like on the shoe rack.

Don’t keep shoes in the box with no air circulation

how to clean white shoes

When you buy a pair of new shoes, they always come with a cardboard box to protect the shoes from scratches and damage. Even so, storing your shoes inside the box isn’t the ideal choice. The reason is your shoes may absorb moisture, and if this happens for a long time, your shoes might get creases and look dull. It’s best to store your shoes in the shoe rack to avoid moisture accumulation inside the box.

Wear shoes regularly to avoid yellowing

how to clean white shoes

It’s also not ideal to leave your shoes unworn, because they can get dull and are at high risk of being damaged. Wearing shoes are important, both for necessity and the shoe itself. If your shoes are left untouched for a while, the glue gets dry quicker, the shoes’ life is getting shorter and they’ll turn yellow. To avoid this, wear your shoes regularly every once in a while.

Avoid wearing white shoes for outdoor activities

how to clean white shoes

Some people consider that white shoes are much easier to get dirty, and that’s a fact. Bright-colored footwear, white included, is an easy target for dirt, stains, and scuff marks even a minute after being cleaned. You can avoid wearing white shoes for outdoor activities if you don’t want to keep cleaning them every time you go out. Wear them only for indoor activities or occasions, or get a stain protector spray if you insist to wear them for outdoor activities to minimize the risk of your shoes getting dirty.

– Add some silica gel packs while storing shoes

how to clean white shoes

When you get new shoes, you can find some packs inside the box. Don’t throw them away! Those small packs are called silica gel, and they function to absorb moisture inside the shoe’s box and keep the footwear fresh. Silica gel is very useful to extend your shoe’s life for a longer time. Throw one or two packs of silica gel inside the shoe while storing them to keep the shoes fresh and dry.

Don’t stack the shoes

how to clean white shoes

Never stack your shoes or you’ll end up with dirty, damaged footwear. The dirt from the outsole might fall inside the shoes below. Furthermore, the shoe’s upper and structure might be damaged due to the press from other shoes above them. To avoid this, arrange your shoes in a row on a shoe rack.

– Clean shoes once every month for easier cleaning

how to clean white shoes

It’s better to clean your shoes regularly to avoid dirt accumulation. The dirt and stains are much easier to be removed if they’re not left for a while. Clean your shoes once every month to keep them clean and avoid overwashing that can damage the shoes.


How to clean white shoes with toothpaste?

There are many steps you can do to clean white shoes with toothpaste. First, damp the shoe or the specific part of the shoe you want to clean. Next, apply some toothpaste to the dirty or stained parts then scrub them off with a toothbrush in circular motions. After your shoes look clean, wipe the excess off with a microfiber cloth and let dry for a few minutes. Your shoes will look clean and crisp again!

How to clean white shoes in the washing machine?

how to clean white shoes

It’s not recommended to clean white shoes in the washing machine. The reason is the shoes, especially the ones made from leather can be damaged. Some shoes have shoe care instructions that allow them to be cleaned only by hand. There are still a lot of safer methods for cleaning white shoes, such as cleaning them by hand with different types of ingredients.

Do vinegar and baking soda clean white shoes?

how to clean white shoes

Yes, vinegar and baking soda can clean white shoes and make them look brand new. Vinegar is a well-known ingredient, often used for removing dirt and stains, as well as getting rid of bacteria and odors. Baking soda is useful in removing dirt and grease without leaving scratches.

Here are some steps you can do to clean your white shoes with these ingredients. First, you’ll need to mix vinegar, baking soda, and hot water, one tablespoon each until forms into a paste-like consistency. Next, dab the paste with a toothbrush and scrub with circular motions on the dirty or stained area until they’re gone. Let them dry, then tap the shoes or brush the shoes to remove the dry paste. Now your white shoes look clean and ready to be shown off!

Is baking soda good for cleaning shoes?

how to clean white shoes

Yes, baking soda is an excellent ingredient for making dirty shoes white and crisp again. This natural product contains zero toxicity, making baking soda an eco-friendly cleaner. Baking soda also eliminates odor-causing bacteria. To clean your shoes with this, mix baking soda with warm water, one tablespoon each, until reaches a thick consistency. Take a toothbrush and dip it into the paste, then start scrubbing the dirty, stained area. Let the paste sit for 30 minutes, then wipe the excess off with a wet cloth. Repeat the process if needed.