Tricks to Get White Shoes Clean

Keep white shoes looking like new.
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White shoes have the uncanny ability to change colors -- just step outside, and they'll turn toss away their white facade in no time at all. Like a magnet, they attract mud, stains and anything else you happen to encounter on the sidewalk. After a few days of regular wear, your once-white shoes may look like something you bought at a yard sale. If you're sick of your dingy shoes, try harnessing the stain-busting power of baking soda, toothpaste and other DIY cleaning remedies. With a bit of elbow grease, your kicks will look as good as new.

Lay a towel down flat on a table, desk or similar hard surface. Place the shoes on top of the towel. This will keep your work area clean as you whiten your shoes.

Scrub the shoes with a toothbrush to remove any dirt or loose debris.

Combine equal parts baking soda and water, then stir together to make a paste. Alternatively, for a more powerful stain remover, make a mixture of one part baking soda and three parts white vinegar. Using a sponge, dab the baking-soda paste on your leather or canvas shoes. Rub the paste in with the sponge. Wipe the baking soda away with a clean, damp sponge or cloth.

Whiten canvas shoes by putting them in the washing machine with a capful of detergent. If the shoes are very dirty, add a capful of color-safe, non-chlorine bleach. Let the shoes air-dry. You can wash these shoes alone, with other canvas shoes or with a load of white clothes only.

Dab a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on suede shoes with a cotton ball or cloth, then rub the peroxide in with a suede brush. This gets rid of scuffs and stains.

Dip an old toothbrush in warm water, then apply a dab of whitening, non-gel toothpaste to the bristles. Rub the toothpaste into your leather or canvas shoes. Wipe the shoes with a damp, clean cloth to remove the toothpaste.

Remove scuff marks from your leather shoes by rubbing them with a gum eraser.

Apply a few drops of vegetable-oil soap to a toothbrush. Scrub any stains on your leather shoes with the toothbrush.

Combine equal parts lemon juice and water, then dip a cloth in the mixture. Wipe leather shoes with the lemon-water mixture. Set the shoes in the sun for about six hours to lighten the leather.

  • Do not immerse leather shoes in water to clean. Doing so may damage the leather.
  • Don't try to whiten shoes with chlorine bleach. It can cause discoloration and damage.
  • If you use too much polish when shining your leather shoes, dust them with baby powder, then buff the powder in with a soft cloth. Baby powder will absorb shoe polish.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.