How to Clean White Tennis Shoes to Look Brand New

how to clean white tennis shoes

Before I jump into how to clean white tennis shoes, let’s discuss the enduring popularity of white tennis shoes due to their versatility, as white pairs effortlessly with any outfit, enhancing its overall appeal.

But given their propensity to get dirty quickly, it’s crucial to know how to properly care for your white tennis shoes. Fear not, as we’ve compiled some effective methods for cleaning white tennis shoes and restoring their brand-new appearance.

Let’s dive into the article and keep those white shoes looking sharp!

What Cleaning Kit Do You Use?

  • Shoe cleaner
  • Apron
  • Premium brush
  • Medium brush
  • Standard brush
  • Small brush or old toothbrush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Shoe trees
  • Washbowl

Step By Step How To Clean White Tennis Shoes

how to clean white tennis shoes

Step #1: Take the shoelaces off

Before cleaning the shoes, I always take care of the shoelaces as well. I’ll take them off and massage the lace gently with a few drops of shoe cleaner. Then, rinse with running clean water and set aside.

Step #2: Put in the shoetrees

Moving from the laces to the shoe itself. Remove the insoles by pulling them out and put a shoetree inside each of the shoes. Sometimes, I encounter permanently glued insoles. If that’s the case, don’t force remove them. Otherwise, they get damaged.

Step #3: Dry cleaning

Take a premium brush and dust the shoe’s surface off from debris and dirt. Use a dry brush for this step before moving on to the cleaning process.

Step #4: Clean the outsole and midsole

Dip a standard brush into the cleaning solution, then use it for cleaning the outsole. Do the same process with the midsole by using a medium brush. Scrub the surfaces thoroughly to remove dirt and stains.

Wipe the suds off with a microfiber cloth to reveal a clean surface. I’ll generally repeat the process if I still notice some impurities.

Step #5: Clean the outer and inner upper shoes

Next, dip a premium brush into the cleaning solution, then work gently on the upper shoes. To reach the narrow parts where the premium ones can’t get in, I highly recommend using either a small brush or a toothbrush.

Then, wipe the suds with a microfiber cloth. Don’t use a standard brush to clean this part to prevent scratches and possible damage.

Step #6: Detailing

After you ensure that the major area has been cleaned, damp the microfiber cloth and use it for cleaning small details on shoes, like the eyelets.

I recommend using microfiber cloth because it does a better job of absorbing water and dirt compared to ordinary cloth or even paper towels.

Step #7: Drying

After ensuring all parts of the shoes are clean, and no spot is missed, let the shoes and their laces sit by the fan to dry for about 2 hours of maximum.

I never recommend using a hair dryer or a heat gun to dry the shoes because the glue might bristle, and the shoes’ shape is changed, making them uncomfortable to wear again. Don’t put the shoes under direct sunlight because they can get discolored.

Step #8: Finishing

Take the shoetrees off and put the insoles back after ensuring that the shoes are completely clean and dry. Don’t forget to put on the shoelaces as well, and now your white shoes are as good as new!

How Can I Get My White Tennis Shoes White Again?

how to clean white tennis shoes

To get your tennis shoes white again, there are many ingredients you can utilize for cleaning them. The following are some of my recommendations on how to make your tennis shoes white and crisp again. 

Baking soda

  • Knock the shoes off to remove big chunks of dirt or mud for easier cleaning.
  • Take the shoelaces off and brush the surface to remove loose debris.
  • Create a smooth and thick paste with one tablespoon of baking soda water and hydrogen peroxide (half a teaspoon each) in a small bowl.
  • Dab an old toothbrush into the paste, then scrub the surface just enough in a circular motion.
  • Apply the paste once again and let them dry for about 3 to 4 hours. Use the remaining paste to clean the shoelaces.
  • Knock the shoes again or brush the dry paste to reveal now white tennis shoes.
  • Rinse thoroughly to ensure no particle is left.
  • Dry the shoes and laces away from the sun to prevent yellowing.

Multi-purpose cleaner

  • Spray the cleaner onto the tennis shoes.
  • Scrub the surface gently and thoroughly using an old toothbrush.
  • Wipe the excess suds with a soft cloth, then repeat the process until you get the desired result.
  • Wipe with a dampened cloth and leave to dry completely.


  • Dilute one part of bleach with four parts of water in a container.
  • Use a toothbrush to apply the solution to the tennis shoes.
  • Scrub the dirt and stains carefully until you’re left with crisp white shoes.
  • Rinse with cold running water and leave to dry entirely.

Alternative Method Of How To Clean White Tennis Shoes

a. Using Magic Eraser

how to clean white tennis shoes
  • To begin with, I grab my trusty magic eraser. You can find these at most stores in the cleaning aisle.
  • Next, I check the shoes for any loose dirt or debris. I use an old toothbrush to give them a quick once-over and get rid of any loose gunk.
  • Now, I wet the magic eraser slightly. I don’t soak it, just make it damp. Excess water can damage the shoe material, so be cautious.
  • Then, I start by gently rubbing the magic eraser on the white parts of the shoes. I use a back-and-forth motion, but I’m careful not to scrub too hard. You don’t want to risk removing the shoe’s finish.
  • As I go along, I periodically check the magic eraser. Depending on how dirty the shoes are, it might get pretty grungy, and I might need to rinse them or use a new one.
  • Please take a note. I pay special attention to scuff marks and stains. The magic eraser is great at making those disappear. I just keep rubbing gently until they’re gone.
  • If there are any stubborn spots, I use a little extra elbow grease and work on them until they’re clean. It usually doesn’t take too long.
  • After I’m satisfied with how clean the shoes look, I take a clean, damp cloth and wipe off any leftover eraser residue. This ensures the shoes look their best.
  • Once they’re dry, I like to apply a sneaker protector or a water-repellent spray to keep my shoes looking fresh and protected from future stains.
  • For the last step, I let the shoe air dry. I don’t recommend using a heat source like a hairdryer because it can damage the shoe material.

b. Using Micellar Water

how to clean white tennis shoes
  • First and foremost, I grab a bottle of micellar water from my bathroom shelf. Micellar water is great because it’s gentle and won’t damage your white shoes.
  • Then, I like to take off the laces from my tennis shoes. This makes it easier to clean every nook and cranny without any obstructions.
  • Using an old toothbrush or a shoe brush, I lightly scrub the surface of my shoes to remove loose dirt and grime. It’s a small step, but it makes the micellar water even more effective.
  • Time to break out the micellar water! I soak a clean cloth or a cotton ball with it, then gently wipe down the shoes. I focus on any visible stains or scuff marks.
  • If I encounter stubborn stains, I wet the toothbrush with micellar water and gently scrub the area in a circular motion. Be patient; it might take a little effort.
  • Next, I pour some micellar water onto a separate cloth and give the rubber soles a good wipe. It helps to remove dirt and any black scuff marks.
  • Now that my shoes are looking fresh, I take a damp cloth and wipe off any remaining micellar water. Then, I let them air dry.
  • While the shoes are drying, I give the laces a quick dip in a bowl of micellar water and gently rub them between my fingers. Then, I rinse them and let them dry separately.
  • Once everything is dry, I lace up my shoes, and they look good as new. I always enjoy that moment when I’ve given my tennis shoes a second life.

c. Using Baking Soda

how to clean white tennis shoes
  • To clean my white tennis shoes with baking soda, I’ll need a small bowl, baking soda, an old toothbrush, some warm water, and of course, my dirty white tennis shoes.
  • I start by removing the shoelaces. This makes it easier to clean every nook and cranny of the shoes.
  • Then, I give the shoes a good shake to get rid of any loose dirt or debris. This step helps prevent scratching the fabric when I start cleaning.
  • In the small bowl, I mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with just enough warm water to form a thick, paste-like consistency. The baking soda is my secret weapon for removing stains and odors.
  • Using an old toothbrush, I dip it into the baking soda paste and start scrubbing the shoes. I pay special attention to any stained or discolored areas. I work the paste into the fabric in circular motions.
  • I take my time and go over the entire shoe, both the upper and the sole. The gentle abrasiveness of the baking soda helps to lift away dirt and stains without damaging the shoes.
  • After a thorough scrubbing, I let the baking soda sit on the shoes for about 10-15 minutes. This gives it time to work its magic and absorb any lingering odors.
  • While waiting, I clean the shoelaces separately. I soak them in the baking soda paste and water mixture, giving them a good scrub with the toothbrush as well.
  • After the waiting period, I rinse the shoes and shoelaces thoroughly with warm water. I make sure to remove all the baking soda residue.
  • I then pat the shoes and laces dry with a clean, dry cloth. It’s important not to wring or twist them, as that could misshape the shoes.
  • Lastly, I re-lace the shoes, and they’re good to go! If they’re still a bit damp, I like to let them air dry completely, which helps prevent any lingering odors.

d. Cleaning White Tennis Shoes Without Washing

  • First, grab a soft-bristle brush, an old toothbrush will do just fine. You want to get rid of any loose dirt or grime before we dive into the real cleaning.
  • Next, take a look at your laces. If they’re looking a bit dingy, remove them and soak them in warm, soapy water. Give ’em a good scrub with the toothbrush if needed.
  • For the shoe itself, I usually mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar in a small bowl. Dip the toothbrush in and gently scrub the stained or dirty areas.
  • If your shoes have scuff marks, don’t sweat it. I recommend grabbing a pencil eraser and lightly rubbing the marks away. It’s like magic!
  • Now, let’s tackle those yellowed soles. To brighten them up, I use a paste made from baking soda and a bit of water. Scrub it on the soles, then let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  • After letting the baking soda paste work its magic, scrub the soles with the toothbrush. You’ll see the difference!
  • It’s time to get rid of the baking soda residue. Just wipe it away with a damp cloth.
  • And oh, don’t forget the inside of your shoes! Sprinkle some baking soda inside to help eliminate odors. Shake it around, then dump it out.
  • Now, let your shoes air out for a while. Leave them in a well-ventilated area to dry completely. Once they’re dry, put your laces back in and re-lace your shoes.

e. Using Shaving Cream

how to clean white tennis shoes
Source: Freepik
  • First, I like to gather all my cleaning supplies. For this job, you’ll need a can of plain white shaving cream (no fancy gels or colorful foams), an old toothbrush, a bowl of warm water, a few clean clothes, and, of course, those dirty white tennis shoes.
  • I start by removing the laces. It just makes the job a lot easier. Plus, I can wash the laces separately if needed.
  • Now comes the fun part. I take a generous amount of shaving cream and apply it directly to the dirty areas of the shoes. The shaving cream works like magic to break down dirt and stains. I like to cover the entire surface evenly.
  • Using that trusty old toothbrush, I gently scrub the shoes. I go back and forth, using a bit of elbow grease to focus on stubborn stains. The shaving cream will start to turn brown as it lifts the dirt from the shoes.
  • After scrubbing, I let the shaving cream sit on the shoes for about 5-10 minutes. This gives it time to penetrate and work its cleaning wonders.
  • With a clean, damp cloth, I wipe away the shaving cream. Make sure to get all of it off, leaving no residue behind.
  • Sometimes, you might need to repeat the process for extra stubborn stains. If that’s the case, just go back to step 3 and work on those problem areas again.
  • Once I’m satisfied with the cleanliness, I rinse the shoes with clean water. Then, I pat them dry with another clean cloth. You want to remove any leftover soap and ensure they’re completely dry before moving on.
  • Now, I put the laces back in place. They should be clean, too, thanks to that separate wash.

f. Using Hydrogen Peroxide

how to clean white tennis shoes
  • I like to start by gathering everything I need. You’ll want a small bowl, a toothbrush (an old one works great), a soft cloth, hydrogen peroxide, and of course, your dingy white tennis shoes.
  • Before diving into the cleaning process, I give my shoes a little shake or gentle tap to get rid of any loose dirt or debris. This makes the cleaning more effective.
  • In the small bowl, I mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. It’s typically around 50/50. This solution is perfect for tackling those stubborn stains.
  • Then, I like to dampen the toothbrush with the peroxide solution and give the shoe’s rubber soles and any stained areas a light scrub. This helps loosen up the dirt and stains.
  • When scrubbing, I always use a gentle, circular motion. There’s no need to go at it like a maniac; you don’t want to damage the shoe material. Just be patient and persistent.
  • After a little scrubbing, I take the soft cloth, dampen it with the solution, and gently wipe down the entire shoe. This helps remove the loosened dirt and also keeps the shoe looking uniform.
  • For tougher stains, don’t be afraid to repeat steps 4 to 6. Sometimes, it takes a couple of rounds to get those sneakers sparkling white again.
  • Next, I rinse the shoes with clean water. Then, I leave them to air dry. Don’t rush this part by using heat or direct sunlight; it might affect the shoe material. Patience is key.
  • If my shoes still have a slight yellowish tint, I place them in indirect sunlight for a few hours. Sunlight can help brighten them up, but remember, don’t overdo it.
  • Once your sneakers are dry, lace them up and step out with your brilliantly clean white shoes. You’ll feel like you just stepped out of the store!

g. Cornstarch and Water

how to clean white tennis sneakers
Source: azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik
  • Start by gathering your supplies. You’ll need a small bowl, cornstarch, a soft-bristle brush (an old toothbrush works great), and your dirty white tennis shoes.
  • Place your tennis shoes on a newspaper or an old towel to avoid making a mess. I like to do this outside, but you can also work indoors on a well-covered surface.
  • Take the soft-bristle brush and give your shoes a good once-over to remove any loose dirt and debris. This will make the cleaning process more effective.
  • Now, it’s time to make your cornstarch paste. I usually mix one part of cornstarch with two parts of water in a small bowl. Stir it until you have a thick, paste-like consistency.
  • Dip your brush into the cornstarch paste and apply it generously to the stained areas on your white tennis shoes. I use circular motions to work it into the fabric. You’ll notice the paste turning a bit yellow as it absorbs the dirt.
  • Leave the cornstarch paste on your shoes for about 30 minutes. This gives it time to break down the stains and brighten your shoes.
  • After the wait, grab a damp cloth or sponge and gently wipe off the dried cornstarch. Be careful not to scrub too hard; you don’t want to damage the fabric.
  • Once you’re satisfied with the cleanliness of your white tennis shoes, leave them to air dry.
  • As a finishing touch, I like to sprinkle a little cornstarch over the shoes and rub it in with a dry cloth. This not only absorbs any remaining moisture but also keeps them looking fresh.

h. Using Talcum Powder

Source: Instagram/johnsonbeckerpllc
  • I always start by getting everything I need. For this shoe-cleaning magic trick, you’ll want to have your white tennis shoes and some talcum powder on hand.
  • First things first, I make sure to give my shoes a good shake to get rid of any loose dirt or debris. Then, I take a soft-bristle brush and gently brush off the remaining dirt from the surface.
  • Now comes the talcum powder trick. I generously sprinkle talcum powder all over the surface of my white tennis shoes. Make sure to cover them evenly with a nice layer of powder.
  • With the powder on, I use my fingers to rub it into the shoe material. I make small circular motions to work the talcum powder into any stained or discolored areas. It’s like giving your shoes a spa treatment!
  • After rubbing in the talcum powder, I let my shoes sit for at least a few hours, or even overnight if they’re really dirty. This allows the powder to absorb the oils and dirt from the shoe’s surface.
  • When I come back, I take my brush again and gently brush off the excess talcum powder. You’ll notice that it’s absorbed some of the grime, leaving your shoes looking cleaner.
  • To finish the job, I take a damp cloth and wipe down the shoes to remove any remaining powder residue. This step helps bring out the true white color of your tennis shoes.
  • Lastly, I leave my shoes to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Don’t rush this step; just let them dry naturally.

How To Clean Any Material Of White Tennis Shoes

a. How To Clean White Mesh Tennis Shoes

Dubbed the most lightweight and breathable material for sports shoes, mesh has gained popularity nowadays. Just like the others, mesh tennis shoes need special care to prevent tearing and damaged materials. The following is the best method how to clean white mesh tennis shoes based on my trials and errors.

  • Remove the laces first and scrub the shoes with a soft-bristled brush to remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Damp a washcloth with water then wipe the shoes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix warm water with a few drops of dish soap until forms bubbles.
  • Dip a toothbrush and work the cleaning solution into your shoes thoroughly.
  • Rinse with clean water and allow the mesh tennis shoe to dry in a warm place away from the sun.

b. How To Clean White Leather Tennis Shoes

Many people considered leather shoes elegant and timeless but take a big effort to care because the material itself is can be affected easily by harsh chemicals. Below is how you clean white leather shoes based on what I did.

  • Remove the shoelaces and dust the shoes off with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Add 3 to 4 drops of dish soap into a cup of warm water and stir until all is incorporated.
  • Dip a toothbrush into the cleaning mixture then scrub the surface gently and thoroughly.
  • Take a small piece of magic sponge and damp it with water before scrubbing the soles to remove scuff marks and stains.
  • After all is clean, stuff the shoes with a dry newspaper and wipe the surface with a clean cloth.
  • Allow white leather shoes to dry in a cool temperature room.

c. How To Clean White Canvas Tennis Shoes

Unlike leather, white canvas shoes are easier to be taken care of. Some shoes are even safe to toss the shoes for cleaning, although you can also wash them manually to ensure the shape and condition of the shoes. It seems to me that you can do either way to achieve a pair of sparkling white canvas shoes. Here are some ways how to clean white canvas shoes.

By hand

  • Bang the soles to remove some big chunks of dirt and mud, then dust the shoes with a brush to remove the first layer of debris.
  • In a bucket filled with water, add a cup of baking soda and some mild laundry detergent. Stir until form a homogenous mixture.
  • Remove the shoelaces and soak them along with the shoes in the bucket. Let them sit for about one hour.
  • Take the shoes out and scrub all parts, including the inside. Massage the shoelaces as well.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow the canvas shoes and their laces to air dry entirely.

With a washing machine

  • In a small bowl, dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda with some water.
  • Take the shoelaces off the shoes and soak them in the mixture.
  • Put the shoes in a mesh laundry bag (use a pillowcase if you don’t have one) before throwing them in the washing machine.
  • Add a few parts of mild liquid detergent.
  • Run the washer with cold water on a gentle cycle and wait until finished.
  • Take the shoes and their laces out and let them dry.

d. How To Clean White Rubber Tennis Shoes

Let’s take a look at how to clean white rubber shoes from dirt and mud. I have tested the following method and want to share this useful tip with you.

  • Scrape off big clumps of dirt or mud from the soles with a plastic knife or scraper for easier cleaning.
  • Remove the remaining dirt with a strong-bristled brush.
  • Fill a plastic container with warm water, then add a teaspoon of laundry detergent and mix until all is incorporated.
  • Soak your white rubber shoes in the mixture for about 5 minutes.
  • After soaking, scrub the shoes thoroughly inside and out.
  • Rinse with running water and allow to air dry in a cool area away from the sun.

Do’s And Don’ts

Clean your shoes quickly if they’re getting dirty.Don’t store your shoes in a box or plastic bags.
Pay attention to the shoe’s material. Some delicate ones, like leather or suede, need extra care and gentle treatment.Don’t dry the shoes under direct sunlight.
Store the shoes in a well-ventilated room.Make sure you clean the shoes thoroughly and not just the outside parts.

Shoe Care Tips

  • Clean the tennis shoes as soon as you finish the game, especially after playing on outdoor courts.
  • Use a specialized cleaning agent and the proper cleaning method to minimize the shoes’ damage.
  • Store the shoes in a cool room.
  • Clean the inside parts of the shoes as well to prevent offensive odor.

Keeping Your White Tennis Shoes Clean

Now that you’ve understood how to clean white shoes, it’s also important to take good care of them. Just like you all, I don’t want to spend my time only cleaning white shoes for them to get dirty all over again.

Afraid not, here are some of my tips on what you can do to keep your white shoes clean for a longer time.

1. Apply stain protector spray for all occasion

As mentioned in the name, the spray creates a layer of protector or shield to repel water from seeping in and stains from sticking to the shoes. The material is still breathable even after you spray some layer of protection onto the shoes.

After applying, there’s no need to worry about wearing white tennis shoes on rainy days or for a game on the grassy court.

2. Get sneaker wipes for the on-the-go

Isn’t it frustrating to notice your recently cleaned white sneakers get stained the minute you head out? Stains or dirt are better to be cleaned as soon as possible for easier cleaning. Always prepare a pack of sneaker wipes to help you clean them in rush. 

3. Stain remover pen to cover stubborn stains and scuffs

Sometimes, no matter how hard or frequently you clean the shoes there’ll be some persistent stains or even scuff marks that won’t go away. A stain remover pen is an answer to this issue. Simply apply the pen to the stained area and voila, your white shoes look crisp as new again!

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As popular as they seem, white shoes are more prone to attract dirt and stains. With proper maintenance and care, you can clean them to look crisp without buying a pair of new shoes. Different materials of white shoes need different ways of cleaning, so make sure you understand what’s the best method.