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How to clean white shoes sustainably

Words by Saj Azam

Four Minute Read

Make your favourite white sneakers last longer

The best way to clean white leather and canvas shoes in 5 simple steps

Something that we all own, cherish and wear effortlessly each day — it is of course the humble white shoe. However, with great style come great responsibilities, and being much-loved means white sneakers often get pretty dirty, requiring a thorough clean to maintain their fresh look.

Getting your white shoes dirty is an inevitability, even if you’re really careful. There are however some cost-effective, sustainable and easy ways you can keep them clean that’ll have your sneakers looking brand new in no time, and ensure they last longer.

The majority of sneakers will come with care instructions on how to keep them clean, so make sure to check this information before proceeding.

White Leather Shoes

The epitome of style, the white leather shoe is an everyday smart-casual staple. But how do you keep your favourite white kicks clean? For small marks and stains, a simple cloth and water will do the trick however, if you’re facing the task of removing stubborn stains, here’s a DIY make-at-home solution using things you’ll find in the back of your cupboards.

Shoe scrub recipe:

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of white toothpaste (no gel formulas) with equal parts water and baking soda

2. If your scrub is a little thick, add a little extra water to get a nice consistency

3. Using a cloth or old toothbrush, in circular motions apply the paste gently to the shoe

4. Wipe it off with a damp cloth and dry the shoe

5. If the stains are still there, repeat steps 1-4

White calfskin sneakers from Goral
London-based brand Unseen Footwear

White Canvas Shoes

Perfect for summer, canvas shoes are hardwearing and you can make them last even longer by using kind to the planet ingredients, easily found at home to clean them — minus any waste, toxic chemicals or fuss. Similar to cleaning leather shoes, you’ll need to create a paste to use — but with a couple of differences.

Cleaning paste recipe:

1. Combine a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of vinegar

2. Dilute this paste with a cup of warm water

3. Using a cloth or old toothbrush, gently scrub your shoes with the paste

4. Let the paste dry (it shouldn't take too long) and simply brush it off

5. Leave to air dry

White Leather & Electric Blue Sneakers from Diverge

How To Clean White Shoe Laces:

Don’t forget to remove the laces before you start the cleaning process and wash them separately for the best results. There are a couple of ways to clean your laces and here’s how:

1. Fill a bowl or sink with warm water and some laundry detergent or washing-up liquid

2. Allow the laces to soak for around 30 minutes

3. After they’ve soaked, use the paste you’ve made to clean your shoes to scrub your laces

Alternatively, you can pop them in a mesh lingerie bag with some stain remover and put them into your washing machine with your whitewash. For extra tough stains, you can also leave them to dry in the sunshine for some natural bleaching.

Sahara Ritchie Sneakers from Duke & Dexter

There you have it — how to clean, maintain, care and protect your beloved white sneakers. Now you can step out in style and turn heads with your blindingly clean crepes. All done sustainably too.

If you're looking for a new pair of white sneakers to work into your wardrobe, here are 3 steps to picking the best ones.

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