Your ultimate guide to clean, pristine kicks


So, your favourite white sneakers have taken a battering, whether that be due to a soaking wet festival, a long countryside walk, or general day-to-day dirt. Truth is, our sneakers are bound to show some wear and tear with time, despite how much we wished they could stay in mint condition forever.


Cleaning your sneakers is a very important part of their care and maintenance. Not only does dirt affect their appearance, but it also reduces their lifespan. There are so many mixed messages around washing white sneakers… Can you machine wash sneakers? What’s the best way to dry them? How do you clean sneakers without causing any damage? If you’ve been wondering how to make your favourite shoes white again, we’ve got you covered with these tried-and-tested methods.

To machine wash, or to hand wash?

Machine washing dos and don’ts!

Alternative ways to clean your sneakers

How should you clean leather and suede sneakers?

Cleaning trainers by hand… How to do it properly

How do you remove a stain from white shoes?

How should you dry them afterwards?

How can I maintain their whiteness afterwards?

To machine wash, or to hand wash?


We get it, it’s nerve-racking having to wash your favourite trainers for the first time. What if they get damaged? What if they become discoloured? What if they shrink into baby booties?


Whether or not you can put your trainers in your washing machine will depend on their type and material. Carefully read the instructions on the garment to discover the best way to clean your sneakers — they should tell you whether they’re machine washable or not. Generally, cleaning your shoes in the washing machine isn’t possible if they’re made of leather, grain leather, suede or eco leather, since the material is too delicate, and so you should learn how to wash your shoes by hand (more on that later!). Machine washing white sneakers should be avoided if they’re glued too, since the glue may dissolve when exposed to temperature. Shoes with ornaments may become damaged too, so machine washing is a no go.

Fabric sneakers are machine washable, and on them should be a label with washing instructions.

Hooray! You’re on your way to clean shoes.

Machine washing dos and don’ts!

Before you simply throw your sneakers in the washing machine, consider the following washing guidelines:

  • Choose a temperature of 30 degrees or less

  • Opt for a low-speed cycle and skip the spinning

  • Use washing gel, as powder detergent can get stuck in shoes if it doesn’t dissolve properly

  • For heavy soiled sneakers, use baking soda mixed with water before popping them in the machine, and leave them to soak for a few minutes. Baking soda has strong bleaching properties, which effectively lift stains from the material

  • Clean surface dirt (mud, dust, grass) from the shoe before machine washing them, as dirt can clog the filter

  • Place trainers in a special mesh bag for washing, as this prevents the shoes from deformation. If you don’t own one, then an old pillowcase is a great alternative

  • To clean insoles, remove them from the shoes and place them in a separate bag for washing

  • To clean white shoe laces, remove them from the shoes. These can be placed in the same bag as the insoles

  • Don’t put your sneakers in the same wash as your clothes

Clean white sneakers, here we come!

Alternative ways to clean your sneakers

The washing machine isn’t your only option when it comes to cleaning your sneakers. Wondering how to clean your sneakers using alternative methods? Why not give these ingenious hacks a go?

  • In the dishwasher Yes, you read it! While you shouldn’t wash your white sneakers with your dishes, it is encouraged to allocate a day for sneaker washing. This method is quick, easy, and will ensure a thorough clean. Just remember to turn off the ‘heated dry’ option if you want them to come out in one piece.

  • With grey soap Wet the stained sneakers, and moisten the soap. Then, rub the soap against a sponge or brush to create a lather and apply to the stain. Let it soak for a few minutes before rinsing. This useful product is gentle on fabrics and is made from all natural ingredients!

  • With washing up liquid Mix a few drops of washing up liquid into a bowl of warm water and use a cloth or a toothbrush to scrub the sneakers. Then, rinse them with a clean cloth dipped in warm water. This method is cheap, easy and doesn’t require any electrical equipment!

  • With toothpaste Remember to use a non-gel toothpaste, and to check the ingredients listed, as they vary from brand to brand. You could try the toothpaste on a small patch of sole as a test. Cheap and simple, your toothpaste will be your sneaker saviour!

  • Cleansing milk Your sneaker deserves a pamper too! Simply give the leather or rubber sole a wipe and, just like your face, watch the cleansing milk give your sneaker a radiant glow!

  • Nail polish remover Nail varnish remover will quickly remove any stains from leather or rubber soles. Wipe a cotton pad with a few drops of nail varnish remover and watch the stains disappear instantly.

How should you clean leather and suede sneakers?

Cleaning white canvas shoes will usually involve a washing machine, while cleaning leather and suede sneakers will require a bit more patience. Since these materials are more delicate and cannot be washed in the machine, there are certain steps you should take to take special care of them:

  • Leather If your sneakers are covered in mud or are very dirty, leave them out to dry before you start on the cleaning. Once dry, clean the mud off the shoes with a soft brush. Then prepare a clean cloth, a bowl of water and dissolved soap and gently start rubbing the leather. Another alternative that should also do the trick is a solution of vinegar and water. Citric acid will restore the whiteness of the shoes. Note that moisture can damage leather, so ensure you give the shoes a wipe with a dry cloth afterwards.

  • Suede Washing suede by hand is a bit more complicated because water is not advised, since it leaves stains on the surface. Firstly, you should get a suede cleaning kit or a special rubber or crepe brush for suede and rub the soiled areas. You can also try using a regular school eraser to clean the shoes!

Cleaning trainers by hand… How to do it properly

If you’d rather get clean white sneakers using manual methods, or if you can’t machine wash your sneakers, follow these easy steps for a sparkling finish:

  • Remove the shoelaces and insoles of your sneakers, as this will help you wash the inside of the shoes and reach the toe box while cleaning

  • Using a soft-bristle brush, start brushing the dry dirt from your sneakers

  • Prepare a bowl of warm water and soap

  • Then, wash the sneakers with a wet sponge inside and out until the dirt has gone

  • Separately, scrub the shoelaces and insoles until clean

  • When you’re done, wipe the shoes with a clean, rinsed cloth and leave to air dry

  • Air dry the shoelaces and insoles separately to avoid trapped moisture between these and the sneakers

How do you remove a stain from white shoes?

Getting clean white sneakers has never been easier, or cheaper! Wondering how to get yellow stains out of white shoes? Restore your sneakers’ whiteness with these versatile household staples:

  • Baking soda Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water to make a paste, and scrub the sneakers using a brush or toothbrush. Let the paste dry on the sneakers for 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly with clean water!

  • Bleach Using gloves, mix 1 part bleach with 5 parts water and scrub the sneakers with a brush or toothbrush. Be careful not to use too much bleach as this could cause your sneakers to yellow.

  • Toothpaste Add a small amount of white toothpaste (containing peroxide) to a bowl of warm water and, using a brush or a toothbrush, rub the sneakers in circular motions. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

  • Citric acid When life gives you lemons, give your sneakers a clean! Squeeze a whole lemon into a bowl of water and stir well. Scrub the sneakers and add more lemon juice if necessary, before rinsing thoroughly.

How should you dry them afterwards?

So your sneakers now look good as new, and you can’t wait to step back into them! Although it may be tempting to speed up the drying process using heat, a less-is-more approach should be taken when it comes to drying your newly cleaned shoes. In order to prevent damage, avoid drying them in direct sunlight as this can cause colour fading, and do not place them on hot radiators as this will cause deformation or disintegration of the shoes. The best and safest way is to let them dry naturally, or alternatively you can use a cool hair dryer if you’re super short on time.

How can I maintain their whiteness afterwards?

After seeing your transformed trainers, you won’t want to put them on! But shoes are meant to be used, after all, so here are some tips to keep your white shoes white for longer:

  • Remove stains as soon as possible The longer you leave them, the harder they’ll be to remove. Give your sneakers a quick wipe after use to maintain their colour and prevent build-up.

  • Don’t dry shoes in the sun Avoid placing your sneakers in direct sunlight, as this may cause discolouration over time.

  • Proper storage Make sure to store your sneakers in a cool, dark place. Why not invest in a shoe rack for your stair closet or a shoe cabinet? Or, for a more budget-friendly alternative, you can always keep your sneakers in their original box.

If you want to discover more savvy cleaning essentials that won’t break the bank, read about these multi-tasking wonders that will work extra hard for their money!