How To Clean White Soles Without Damaging Them!

If you ask me what is the most important factor that determines a good pair of shoes, my answer would be the soles. Although they’re rarely seen because they are located at the bottom, soles have a major role in providing durability, comfort, and protection to your feet, which is the main point of wearing shoes. Consequently, soles, especially white ones, get dirty very quickly, and on this occasion, I shall teach you how to clean them properly!

As a professional shoe cleaner, I’ve seen a lot of shoes whose soles are scratched up badly. This is because the owner of the shoes does not know the correct procedure to clean them. It is such as shame because once your shoe soles are damaged, then it’s hard to restore them. So, you might want to hear what I have to say about shoe sole cleaning.

Things that you need to know before you start cleaning your shoe soles

Soles can be categorized into several parts. For instance, the midsole is usually located between the insole and the outsole of the shoe. This part functions as shock absorption and provides cushioning. Oftentimes, midsoles have direct contact with the ground, thus making them dirty and stained. Another problem with the midsole is scuff marks that appear due to frequent use. I can tell you that cleaning this part is especially tricky!

Dirty, stained midsoles are bad news, especially when the midsoles are white. The dirt, stains, and scuff marks are more noticeable on white soles, making the shoes less flattering. Luckily, there are many ways to clean the white soles of the shoes, but sometimes we’re a bit unsure whether it’s safe and won’t cause greater damage to the shoes.

If you’re looking for how to clean your shoes’ white soles without damaging them, keep reading, and you’ll be able to follow my simple tutorial at home. I have experience in professional shoe cleaning service, so you can count on my method. I guarantee that your dirty, stained midsoles will come out clean and crisp!

Get to Know the Cleaning Kits and Their Functions

Before you start the process, it is important to know which tools are ideal for cleaning the midsole. If you do not know which ones to choose, I highly recommend the following kits!


how to clean white soles of shoes

ShoeCleaner is a liquid solution specially used for cleaning shoes. If you don’t have one, I suggest that you use laundry detergents or create a homemade shoe cleaner with dish soap and baking soda. You can also use hydrogen peroxide or even toothpaste. Based on my observation, they can be just as effective!


how to clean white soles of shoes

Wear an apron to protect yourself and your clothes from the mess when you clean your shoes. Remember that some specialized cleaning products may contain strong chemicals (like hydrogen peroxide), so a protective apron will come in handy.

Medium brush

how to clean white soles of shoes

I typically use a medium brush, also known as an all-purpose brush, as the main kit to use for cleaning the shoe midsole. I recommend that you choose a brush with strong bristles because it’ll be perfect for scrubbing dirt and stains off the shoe.

Microfiber cloth

how to clean white soles of shoes

Microfiber cloth is made from fine synthetic yarns and a blend of nylon and polyester used for wiping off the dirt from the shoes. This type of cloth is more durable than other cleaning clothes and has high absorbance. So, I also recommend that you use this product because it can effectively wipe the white soles clean.


how to clean white soles of shoes

The next item is a washbowl. This item functions as a water container that’ll be mixed with the shoe cleaner later. You use any bowl, but it’s better that you have a dedicated one for cleaning. Do not use the same bowl for eating because of the possible chemical residue!

Shoe Perfume

how to clean white soles of shoes

The last item is shoe perfume, used to give fragrance and refreshing scent to your footwear. I like the idea of spraying your favorite scent on the sole because shoes get smelly really fast!

What’s the Best Brush to Clean the Midsole?

how to clean white soles of shoes

The midsole is located at the side of the shoe, between the insole and the outsole. This rubber-like part of the shoe often becomes dirty, stained, or scuffed with use. Now, here goes the question: what brush type can you use to clean the midsole?

The answer is medium brushes. Their strong yet soft bristles are ideal for the sturdy, rubber-like midsole. In addition, medium brushes have an excellent ability to scrub the dirt and stains off and make your shoes look brand new.

For the brands, I believe that any brush that offers stiff but soft bristles will do. However, I know that pros often recommend branded items like the SHOEGR medium brush.

How to Clean the White Midsole?

After you understand the necessary kits and their functions, now I shall share my secret cleaning tutorial! My methods are easy to follow and won’t cause a big mess, so you should try it.

1. Prepare the dirty shoes

how to clean white soles of shoes

The first thing to do is get your dirty shoes ready to clean. Take a pair of shoes with dirty midsoles and set them aside. Check thoroughly for scratches before you start scrubbing because you don’t want to worsen the damage.

2. Prepare the cleaning kit

how to clean white soles of shoes

The next step is preparing the cleaning kit. Take shoe cleaner, an apron, a medium brush, microfiber clothes, a basin filled with water, and shoe perfume.

3. Dry-cleaning

how to clean white soles of shoes

Scrub the shoe’s midsole with a medium brush to remove dirt, stain, and dust before cleaning the midsole with water and a shoe cleaner mixture. Scrub thoroughly and repeat the process for the other pair. I really encourage everyone to do the dry brushing because it’ll make cleaning much easier. Be gentle when you do this step, especially if your shoe soles use soft rubber. You don’t want to leave ugly scratches.

4. Clean the midsole

how to clean white soles of shoes

Dip the medium brush into the water and shoe cleaner mixture, then rub the midsole with the brush to remove dirt and stains. After the midsole is clean, wipe it off with microfiber clothes. And as I’ve said before, you may use laundry detergents as an alternative if you don’t have a shoe cleaner at home.

5. Detailing

how to clean white soles of shoes

After the midsole is clean, use microfiber clothes to clean and wipe small details of the shoe thoroughly. Don’t miss any spots or crevices on your shoe. I know that this part is quite tedious, but you have to put some effort into it so you can get rid of the dirt in the tight spots.

6. Drying Process

how to clean white soles of shoes

After the cleaning process is finished, dry your shoes with a fan for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. You don’t have to dry them in the sun since you’re only cleaning the midsole. In fact, I do not recommend putting your shoes under a scorching sun because that can damage the color.

7. Finishing

how to clean white soles of shoes

After the shoes are dry, put them aside, and your shoes are ready to wear. You can also store the shoes in a dry environment. I recommend adding some packs of silica gel to keep them fresh and good.

Do’s and Don’ts

It seems like you have understood step by step how to clean the white midsole of your shoes. Now, it’s time for some tips on what to do and not to do while cleaning the midsole.


  • Clean the shoes thoroughly, so you don’t miss any dirt or stain on the shoe midsole.
  • Scrub the midsole just enough to brush off hard-to-remove dirt and stains.
  • Clean your shoes regularly to remove the dirt easily and avoid dirt accumulation.
  • Immediately clean your shoes if they become dirty and stained.


  • Don’t use a rough and hard-bristles brush to clean the midsole because it might scratch and damage the midsole.
  • Don’t use dampened tissue towel to clean the midsole.
  • Don’t use a non-shoe cleaner solution to remove the dirt and stain from the shoe midsole because the product might cause damage. Homemade ones are okay if you know the best composition, though!
  • Don’t scrub the midsole too hard to avoid scratches and damage.

White Soles Care

Don’t store your shoes in a humid environment

how to clean white soles of shoes

Don’t ever store your shoes in a humid environment! It’s a bad idea and may cause damage to your shoes. A humid environment is an ideal place for fungus and bacteria to grow, causing your shoes to smell nasty and moldy. Even worse, your shoes might be damaged badly, and there’s no way to fix them. In my experience, keeping your shoes in a dry environment will significantly extend the shoes’ lifespan.

Don’t store wet shoes inside the shoe box

how to clean white soles of shoes

Similar to the previous point, don’t keep your wet shoes directly inside the box because wet shoes get moldy easier when they’re inside a box. Furthermore, the humid environment in wet shoes makes bacteria grow rapidly and cause your shoes to smell. Wet shoes can also damage your shoe box. Therefore, always dry your wet shoes before storing them in the box.

Always use silica gel packs while storing shoes

Keeping your shoes in a dry environment is the best thing to do, but adding some pockets of silica gel can help to maintain the shoes’ condition and extend their lifetime. Silica gel packs are used in many goods to absorb moisture and keep things dry, including shoes. From now on, don’t throw away those small pouches because they’re so useful! 

Air dry shoes after wearing them before putting the shoes in the box

You might not always notice this, but your feet might get sweaty after wearing shoes, especially on hot days and after doing physical activities. The sweat will be absorbed into the shoes and make them humid. It’s best to air dry your shoes after wearing them, especially after heavy physical activity. When your shoes are dry, again, I recommend that you throw in some silica gel packs inside the shoes and store them back in the box.

Clean the shoes immediately if the midsole is dirty

Don’t delay washing your shoes! If you notice some dirt or stains in the shoe midsole, it’s better to take care of them as soon as possible. This is because the longer you let the dirt and stains stick, the harder they become. Even if you manage to scrub the dirt, I guarantee that the stain, a yellowish tint over your white soles, will be super hard to remove.


I know that cleaning white rubber soles on your shoes can be super tricky! This part of the shoes gets exposed to dirt and mud daily, so it gets dirty in no time. You might also accidentally scratch the soles because you stumble around on a gravel road. While the white soles on the shoes look cool, they are hard to maintain!

Fortunately, there are various methods to make the white soles sparkling again! Use specialized acrylic-based shoe paint to obscure the scratches, and use alternative soles cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, toothpaste, or even acetone. Either way, follow my methods so that you can clean the white soles on our shoes without scratching them!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean white rubber shoes that turned yellow?

To clean white rubber shoes that turned yellow, you can repaint the yellowish part and make them look brand new with special midsole markers. Applying a layer of midsole markers with an acrylic base is the perfect choice to make your shoe soles white again. 

Besides repainting, I also recommend a special shoe cleaner to remove the yellow stain. Shoe cleaner, similar to detergent, has small molecules that can bind dirt and grease from the sole, making it clean and look brand new.

How to remove scuff marks from white rubber soles?

To remove scuff marks from a white rubber sole, use wet microfiber clothes and shoe cleaner, then scrub gently to remove them. My preferred alternative to removing scuff marks is toothpaste! Scrub the toothpaste on the scuffed sole and see the difference!

Scrubbing the scuffed part with either shoe cleaner or toothpaste slowly sands off the imperfect surface and makes them polished as new.

Note that some scuff marks still remain and are hard to remove even after several cleaning processes, especially when the scratches are deep enough and caused by frequent use. I think a pair of worn-out shoes have a certain unique charm on their own, though!

How do you clean white soles from yellowing?

There are some ways you can clean white soles from yellowing. One of them is scrubbing the yellowing soles with water and shoe cleaner or detergent mixture. You may use a medium brush to help the cleaning process.

Shoe cleaner and detergents pull all dirt, stain, and grease from the shoes. As you rinse the shoes, the dirt and detergent residues are washed away and making your shoes clean.

Another easy way to make the sole white again is by repainting it. Numerous midsole markers are available for you to paint the yellowing sole and make them white as new. The acrylic-based markers are water resistant and won’t leave a mess behind after being applied, making them ideal for covering up the yellowing white soles.

Other shoe-cleaning experts recommend that you use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your shoe soles. Though, this ingredient can be dangerous if you do not handle it properly. Use it with caution.

Are baking soda and vinegar good for cleaning shoes?

Yes, baking soda and vinegar can clean shoes and make them look crisp as new. I think these two ingredients are wonderful, especially when you don’t have the budget to buy a specialized show cleaner!

Baking soda is a mild alkali that helps dirt and grease in your shoes to dissolve easily without causing scratches.  Meanwhile, vinegar is also well-known for its ability to remove dirt, eliminate odors, and kill bacteria. These two ingredients are safe for the environment because they’re natural products.

To start, first, combine baking soda and vinegar with a ratio of 1:1 until it turns into a paste-like consistency. Then, scrub the mixture over the shoes and let them dry not under direct sun for 3 to 4 hours. After that, scrub the dry paste over, and your shoes will look clean!

However, baking soda may leave a powdery residue if not cleaned thoroughly. It may also not be as effective on tough stains as other methods. You will need to take additional steps, such as creating a paste with water or vinegar, to use it effectively. So yeah, just keep that in mind if you want to try the baking soda method to clean your white shoe soles.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for shoes?

Yes, a small amount of hydrogen peroxide is safe for shoes. In fact, hydrogen peroxide removes stains and disinfects your shoes from numerous microorganisms, like fungi, yeast, and bacteria, that cause your shoes to smell.

To clean your shoes with it, spray a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide on the dirty midsole and let it sit for about 5 minutes before wiping them with clothes. Another way to do it is by mixing hydrogen peroxide with baking soda with a ratio of 1:2 until it becomes a thick paste.

Layer the paste twice on the dirty shoes, and you can either rinse it with water or let it dry and wipe the dried paste with wet clothes. I personally prefer the second method!

However, I need to inform you that hydrogen peroxide has several drawbacks. If you use it too liberally, this ingredient can cause discoloration or damage to certain shoe materials, such as leather or suede. It can also be harsh on the skin, so it’s important to wear gloves while using it. Always be extra careful when you use hydrogen peroxide!

How to clean white soles with toothpaste?

There are some steps to clean white soles with toothpaste. If you don’t have a shoe cleaner and urgently need to clean your shoes, toothpaste is a good alternative. I can tell you that toothpaste has soft abrasive particles that help remove dirt from numerous dirty surfaces, including shoe soles. 

Before starting the cleaning, prepare a non-gel, preferably whitening toothpaste, an old toothbrush, and a damp towel or cleaning sponge. Next, squeeze some toothpaste on the old toothbrush before scrubbing the sole in circular motions.

I highly recommend that you let the paste sit for around 10 to 15 minutes for the best result. Lastly, use a damp towel or cleaning sponge to wipe off the paste and reveal clean white soles.

How to clean white soles with nail polish remover?

There are some steps to clean white soles with nail polish remover, also known as acetone. This strong, non-toxic solvent is great for cleaning grease or oily stain from different surfaces. It’s also excellent for removing scuff marks on your white soles caused by frequent use. But please heed my warning: handle this strong chemical compound with care!

You’ll need some cotton balls, nail polish remover, and of course, dirty shoes! Soak the cotton balls in the nail polish remover, then rub the soles until they look clean and new. Nail polish remover is a good alternative to clean your shoes, although this method is useful only for white soles. The reason is the alcohol in nail polish remover might cause discoloring to the canvas or other painted parts of the shoes.