Clever Hacks for Keeping Your White Shoes Clean

It’s a classic love saga. Boy meets shoes. Boy buys shoes. Boy loves shoes. Boy gets dirt on his shoes. With white sneakers everywhere from the runway to the street, it’s only likely that a stylish man like yourself would invest in some squeaky clean kicks. But no matter how far you go to make sure they stay an angelic white, things happen: Someone accidentally squirts some ketchup on the tops or the street’s natural grit taints the sides. If you have endless cash to spend, buying another pair is an option; however, cleaning them yourself is just as easy. Since you can’t exactly throw these shoes in the washing machine and expect perfect results, here are five hacks for keeping your white shoes nice and bright.

1. Cleanse with a (gentle) shampoo

toothbrush ideal for dental care

Use a toothbrush to help with scrubbing. | iStock.com/nelik

Simply Googling “keeping your white shoes white” will lead you to a slew of pricey shampoos and soaps solely dedicated to your crisp sneakers. But in reality? A gentle cleanser is just as effective and will set you back only a fraction of that fancy mix’s price. A gentle shampoo, according to WhoWhatWear, is ideal for getting rid of those pesky grease stains: All you need is your shampoo, warm water, and a wet rag or toothbrush for wiping away any blotches. Whatever you do, don’t throw these into the washer and dryer. It may sound easy, but the heat will aid in deteriorating the fiber. Need to wear these in a few hours? WhoWhatWear recommends stuffing your lace-ups with paper towel to speed up the drying process.

2. Reconsider your laces

white shoelace with white background

New laces will instantly refresh your shoes. | iStock.com

After months of walking on dirt-clad streets, your shoes may be beyond repair. What’s a guy to do — toss them out and pick up another? Instead of spending up to couple hundred dollars, swapping out your laces for a new pair will allow you to give the illusion of brighter shoes. As the style director of now-defunct Details Magazine Eugene Tong tells Mr Porter, a crisp pair of shoelaces instantly lighten up any pair of gym shoes. Finding a pair of white laces is easy and inexpensive; however, washing them yourself is another viable option. According to Mr Porter, a quick cleanse is as easy as soaking these in a detergent, placing them in a garment bag, and then washing these in a hot water.

3. Spot clean with a portable stain remover

White shoes on white background

No one will know your shoes suffered a stain. | iStock.com

Sometimes, gravity can be the worst. Case in point: You only seem to spill when you’re A) eating something that’s colorful and bound to stain and B) when you’re wearing something white. And for the rest of the day, all you can think about is how you look like a complete idiot with a red stain on your shirt or shoes. Just like you would with any other light garment, the trick to keeping your shoes white is eliminating the stains as soon as they happen. According to The Huffington Post Canada, a Tide-to-Go pen is a great way to treat cloth shoes, plus it’s readily available at your nearest pharmacy. Looking to clean your shoes’ midsoles as well? Pick up a magic eraser pad for instant results.

4. Raid your kitchen for a DIY scrub

spoon of soda with glass of water

Mixing baking soda and water is a great DIY method. | iStock.com

In need of a quick fix that doesn’t require you searching for a bottle of ultra-sensitive shampoo or a Tide-to-Go pen? Luckily, the key to brighter shoes may already be in your house. BuzzFeed says you can easily whiten shoes with a mixture of baking soda, water, and hydrogen peroxide. Simply use an old toothbrush to lightly scrub the mixture onto your kicks, then place them in a sunny spot. Once dry, brush off the residue.

5. Hide scuffs with white nail polish

Nail polish colorful bottles

White nail polish can hide scuffs. | iStock.com/AndreaAstes

Unless you’re keeping yours under lock and key, your sneakers are bound to inherit a few scuffs over time. And while a spot cleaner, shampoo, or DIY potion may seem too drastic for such a small scrape, some nail polish is a quick and stress-free alternative. Whether you steal some of your girlfriend’s lacquer or pick up your own bottle at your corner convenience store, masking your shoes’ impurities is as easy as giving your problem area a few coats. Keep in mind that the color will get stronger and brighter with the more coats you layer on, so let two coats dry to assess before adding more. Or, if you’re unwilling to squash your masculine ego by buying nail polish, Wite-Out will also do the trick. But before you layer on a coat or two, remember that white out has a thicker consistency than nail polish, so you may only need one coat.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs