The Easiest Ways To Clean White Canvas Shoes

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White canvas sneakers are a classy and timeless fashion choice. Keds Champion shoes were America's first go-to sneakers in 1916, featuring an iconic white canvas shell with a flat rubber sole. Since their debut, this shoe style has become one of the most popular mainstream sneaker options — even Jennifer Grey's character in the cult-classic film Dirty Dancing wore them. Today, many colors of the Champion sneaker and similar shoes have hit the market, such as Converse's canvas shoes. This shoe's comfort, versatility, and fashion have made it a go-to for decades. However, they're still a pain to clean!


Unfortunately, white canvas shoes won't stay spotless for long, inevitably attracting dirt and stains. Don't buy a brand-new pair solely because your shoes are dirty. Luckily, there are multiple ways to make sneakers as fresh as the day you bought them. We have curated five tried and true simple ways to clean your white canvas shoes.

Baking soda and vinegar

Your white canvas shoes and shoelaces can regain their original color by making a homemade combination of baking soda and vinegar. Combining these ingredients produces a chemical reaction that leaves you with sodium acetate. This chemical is a common ingredient in cleaning supplies and has a brightening effect.


How do you make it at home? Mix one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of vinegar in a cup of warm water to create the ultimate white canvas shoe-cleaning solution. Use a washcloth to rub the solution onto the shoes' canvas area and scrub. (You can also put your shoelaces in the washer machine.) Although this solution may leave a bit of a crust on shoes once it dries, you can easily brush it off. After scrubbing the stains and wiping off any remaining solution, let your sneakers air dry. Once the shoes are completely dry, your shoes and shoelaces will be sparkling white again.


Bleach is the perfect solution to brighten your white canvas shoes. We often see bleach diluted and used to kill germs around our homes or added to our washers to clean our white clothing. Did you know you can also make a solution to wash your whites with bleach outside the washer? Before using this solution, ensure that your shoes are a pure white color and not a variation of white. Using this solution on shoes that aren't all white can discolor them in patches.


To clean your canvas shoes with bleach, use a toothbrush to scrub a solution of one part bleach to four parts water onto the shoes. Then rinse the toothbrush and continue scrubbing until all of the dirt and stains are removed from the shoes. When using bleach, you can increase its whitening powers by letting the items dry in the sun. This will leave your canvas shoes clean and bright.

Using detergent

Detergent isn't just for the washing machine. When you use it by hand, it also has incredible cleaning powers. To use it best, create a mixture of a few tablespoons of laundry detergent and warm water. If you're spot-treating a few dirty areas on your shoes, you can use a toothbrush to scrub these areas until you see the stains disappear. If the staining and dirt are heavy all across your shoes, allow them to soak in a bowl or bucket of the mixture for up to five minutes before scrubbing. This is a great option if the dirt and stains are not super severe and your shoes might be damaged in the washer machine. 


After you have finished scrubbing your shoes, you can let them air dry in the sun for the fastest dry possible. Voila! Clean and fresh white shoes are left for you to enjoy.

Washing them in the washing machine

Depending on your canvas shoe's cleaning instructions, it may be possible to wash them in your washing machine. Some shoes say that it is an option, pending certain requirements. But others won't be equipped to deal with a washer machine's force. Though, no matter what, some precautions should be taken if you choose to machine wash shoes. If your shoes have fragile details or embellishments do not place them in the washer, as these will most likely fall off. If your shoe is plain canvas and rubber, it will still need to be washed in a delicate bag on the gentlest cycle possible. Ensure that the cycle also uses cold water. Also, the shoes will still need to be air-dried. 


According to shoe experts at Nike, excess heat from hot air or water can shrink your shoes. If you need your shoes to dry faster, try simple hacks such as stuffing them with cloth or newspapers to absorb extra moisture.

Homeade solution for stubborn grass or set-in dirt stains

For extra stubborn stains, a stronger solution may be required. Grass stains and set-in dirt stains are common for white canvas shoes, but they are extremely hard to remove. After trying a bleach cleaning or the traditional baking soda and vinegar solution, the general next step is a solution made specifically to target the remaining stain. 


You can try a homemade stain-removing solution compiled of two ounces of hydrogen peroxide, two ounces of water, and a few drops of lemon essential oil to remove stains that won't seem to budge. Spray the hard-to-remove stain with several spritzes of the solution. Then, dab the area dry with a cloth before rinsing the area with cold water. After rinsing the shoes, ensure the stain is completely gone before leaving them out to air dry overnight. The next day, you should have clean shoes missing any stubborn stains from the day before!