Written by Grove Collaborative

How to clean white shoes naturally — leather, mesh, canvas & more.

Last Updated: June 17, 2021

Wondering how to clean white shoes and get the stains out? We’re sharing our pro tips for how to seriously clean your white sneakers — and shoelaces — so they’re bright as new again!

Tips and tricks for cleaning white shoes

White shoe cleaner isn’t the only (or even the best) way to clean white shoes. In fact, using natural cleansers instead of chemical whiteners and detergents can be just as effective for whitening shoes.


Discover how to clean your white leather, canvas, and mesh shoes with this step-by-step guide. Whether you’re spot-treating for stain removal or it’s an overall cleaning that’s required, we’ll help you get those dirty white shoes dazzling. And, don’t worry, this is one DIY project that’s not too complicated.

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What you need to clean white shoes

Step-by-step instructions for cleaning white shoes of all types

How to clean white leather sneakers

Believe it or not, you don’t actually need a chemical shoe cleaner to keep your leather sneakers looking bright. A cup of warm water with a few drops of liquid dish soap should do the trick to make these shoes white again!

Step 1: Clean shoes with soap and water

First, remove the shoelaces to reach any dirt hiding in the crevices, which you can brush off with a soft, dry toothbrush. Then use a soapy, soft-bristled brush to gently buff your leather uppers clean.

Step 2: Clean the soles

Moisten a durable foam or sponge eraser to scrub away streaks and scuff marks from the soles.

Step 3: Let the shoes dry

After wiping your white leather sneakers with a damp, soft microfiber cloth, stuff them with absorbent paper towels.

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How should you dry leather shoes?

Letting leather shoes air dry, rather than machine drying, will help prevent shrinkage.

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How to clean white mesh shoes

For white mesh shoes, follow the same steps as above for cleaning white leather shoes. Due to the fine knit fabric, apply light pressure when brushing away and cleansing any dirt.


Use warm water to rinse the shoes as you clean them with a soft cloth, being careful not to drench the mesh or it can damage them.


Grove Tip: Use a bleach pen alternative to gently rub out stubborn stains.


How to clean white canvas shoes


The cotton fabric in canvas shoes easily absorbs grit and grime. Since they’re not as delicate as leather or mesh shoes, you can use a bit more elbow grease.


If your canvas sneakers are sadly gray, you may want to toss them into the washing machine: gentle cycle only! Use a natural bleach alternative like sodium carbonate peroxide, formulated to remove stains and brighten whites.

Step 1: Remove loose dirt

First, slap your shoes together to knock off dried mud or excess dirt clods stuck to the canvas. A dry brush will also help to loosen soil from your shoes, including from the soles.

Step 2: Clean the shoes with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Create a paste using a half tablespoon of water, a half tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, and a tablespoon of baking soda. Using a soft toothbrush, scrub the mixture into the canvas and let the paste harden as it dries. (You may need a second coat.)

Step 3: Clean the rubber soles

Babyganics Stain Eraser is a chlorine-free alternative to a bleach pen, with an applicator tip designed to target and lift tough stains. Try it out on the rubber soles of your white shoes for a sparkling and safe clean.

GROVE HEALTH TIP

What’s the best way to dry white canvas shoes?

Place your white canvas shoes outside to dry and let the sun’s ultraviolet light brighten them even more!

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How to clean white shoelaces

Step 1

Remove the laces from your shoes and soak them in a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (see canvas shoe steps above).


Step 2

Allow the shoelaces to dry in the hot sun until the paste cracks or shakes off.


Step 3

You can also soak white shoelaces in a chlorine-free bleach solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. Then place your laces in a mesh laundry bag and wash them with regular detergent.

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How long does it take to clean white shoes?

Depending on how dirty your white shoes are, give yourself at least an hour to clean them (not including drying time).

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