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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Step 7

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

Step 8

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

Step 9

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.