How to Clean White Shoes

Alex sneaker in white shown.

White shoes have been growing in popularity over the past few years—and for good reason. If you have a pair in your closet, chances are, you’ve found them to be your most versatile pair of footwear—the perfect accompaniment to just about any outfit. 

Although they may be an easy style choice they may not be the easiest to keep clean. Whether you’re wearing them to the gym or on a walk to your favorite coffee shop, the grimy evidence of their outdoor excursions can sometimes be tough to hide. 

So, what is the best way to clean white shoes? Protect them from the start! This is a huge win in your ability to clean them if they are first protected. Spray & saturate your TOMS canvas shoes with TOMS Shoe Care Kit, and allow them to dry. This will allow you to simply wipe off surface dirt and stains with a damp rag. As you continue to wear your white shoes, you then can step into the full cleaning regimen listed below.

Cleaning White Mesh Shoes: Step By Step

White mesh shoes are the epitome of breathability and comfort. Whether you’re wearing them on a trail run or to your favorite pilates class, it’s normal for them to accumulate some dirt and grime over time. 

To bring them back to a bright white condition you’ll need: 

  • An old toothbrush
  • 1 tbsp laundry detergent (liquid)
  • Warm water
  • White paper towels
  • Soft cloth
  • Bleach pen
  • Eraser sponge


1. Remove Dirt Gently

Remove your shoe’s laces if they have any. Use the dry toothbrush to remove any loose dirt, being especially careful since mesh is a delicate material that can easily break or tear.

2. Use Soapy Water

In a small bowl, combine the laundry detergent with a little warm water. Using a soft cloth, apply this solution to the shoes in a gentle circular motion. For tough stains, use the toothbrush to apply the soapy water or apply the bleach pen.

3. Rinse and Allow to Dry

Before you rinse keep in mind that submerging your mesh shoes in water can damage their shape. Instead, use a soft cloth to wipe down the shoes. Fill them with paper towels to preserve their shape as they dry before wearing.

Alex sneaker in birch shown.

Cleaning White Canvas Shoes: Step By Step

White canvas shoes are one of our favorites here at TOMS, so you know we care about their upkeep and cleanliness. Whether you prefer the Alpargata Cupsole Slip On or the Lug Platform Slip On, we’ve got you covered to keep your kicks sparkling and bright.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An old toothbrush
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Paper towel
  • Eraser sponge
  • Bleach pen (optional)


1. Remove Dirt

If your shoes have laces, remove them and set them aside. (We’ll cover how to clean white shoelaces later.) Take your shoes outside and beat the soles against each other to remove any loose dirt from the shoes. Then, take an old toothbrush (or similar brush) and scrub the shoe all over—including the sole—to clean the shoe of any remaining loose dirt. 

2. Use a Baking Soda Paste

In a bowl, mix the baking soda and white vinegar to form a paste. Spread this paste all over the shoe using the toothbrush, scrubbing carefully to remove stains. Allow the paste to harden. Then, remove the paste using the toothbrush for the larger pieces and a paper towel for the remaining bits. For stubborn stains, use a bleach pen. Allow it to sit on the shoes for five minutes before removing it with hot water and liquid detergent.

3. Use an Eraser Sponge

For stains on the shoes’ soles, wet an eraser sponge and scrub the soles all over. Grab a paper towel and wipe off any moisture, and then allow the shoe to air-dry before wearing.

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Cleaning White Leather Shoes: Step By Step

If you prefer white leather shoes like the Alex Sneaker, you may be thinking that their leather material will require special treatment—and you’d be right! Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered here too.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • An old toothbrush
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • 1 cup warm water
  • White paper towels
  • Soft cloth
  • Eraser sponge

1. Use Soapy Water

As with the canvas shoes, if your white leather shoes have laces, remove them and set them aside. Scrub the shoes with the toothbrush while it’s dry to remove any loose dirt. Then, in a small bowl, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water. Using the toothbrush, scrub the shoes all over with this soapy water.

2. Use an Eraser Sponge

Wet an eraser sponge, and scrub the soles of the leather shoes from heel to toe. Dry with a soft cloth and stuff with paper towels to ensure your shoes maintain their shape as they air-dry completely before wearing.

Cleaning White Canvas Shoes: Step By Step

White canvas shoes are one of our favorites here at TOMS, so you know we care about their upkeep and cleanliness. Whether you prefer the Alpargata Cupsole Slip On or the Lug Platform Slip On, we’ve got you covered to keep your kicks sparkling and bright.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An old toothbrush
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Paper towel
  • Eraser sponge
  • Bleach pen (optional)


1. Remove Dirt

If your shoes have laces, remove them and set them aside. (We’ll cover how to clean white shoelaces later.) Take your shoes outside and beat the soles against each other to remove any loose dirt from the shoes. Then, take an old toothbrush (or similar brush) and scrub the shoe all over—including the sole—to clean the shoe of any remaining loose dirt. 

2. Use a Baking Soda Paste

In a bowl, mix the baking soda and white vinegar to form a paste. Spread this paste all over the shoe using the toothbrush, scrubbing carefully to remove stains. Allow the paste to harden. Then, remove the paste using the toothbrush for the larger pieces and a paper towel for the remaining bits. For stubborn stains, use a bleach pen. Allow it to sit on the shoes for five minutes before removing it with hot water and liquid detergent.

3. Use an Eraser Sponge

For stains on the shoes’ soles, wet an eraser sponge and scrub the soles all over. Wipe off any moisture with a paper towel, and then allow the shoe to air-dry before wearing. 

Cleaning White Shoelaces: Step By Step

Now that your shoes are pristinely white, you might be ready to show them off on the streets again. But what about your laces? 

Here’s what you’ll need for shoelaces as snowy shite as your shoes:

  • Rubber gloves
  • White mesh lingerie bag
  • 3 tbsp bleach
  • 1 gallon water
  • Laundry detergent 


1. Use Bleach

Remember to use rubber gloves for protection when using bleach. Place the shoelaces in the white mesh lingerie bag and submerge them in a solution of the bleach and water. 

2. Wash Them Up

After five minutes, remove the bag from the solution and wash the shoelaces in a washing machine using regular laundry detergent. Allow to air dry before returning them to your shoes.

TOMS: Footwear That’s Fresh and Moving Forward

Now that you know how to clean everything from white leather sneakers to natural white TOMS Majorcas, your kicks will stay fresher, longer. But whenever a good scrub doesn’t quite seem to do the trick, be sure to update your closet at TOMS. Whether you’re looking for bright white or bold and colorful, we’ve got everything you need to keep your footwear fresh and stylish. From women’s slippers to men’s sneakers, we’ve got shoes for moving forward, so take the first step with us right here

Looking for more information about women’s sneakers? Check out our latest blogs on How to Wear Sneakers With a Dress and How to Style White Sneakers for Women

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Reviewed By Dan Caves

Dan Caves is the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at TOMS and has been operating in the digital space for 6 years, writing about the latest trends or styles and helping brands make bold statements with innovative tactics and creative concepts. He's determined to go all the places, see all the things, and pet all the dogs.