White sneakers are a classic look for as long as they remain white. As soon as they get dirty, though, they lose their luster and become that eyesore you hide in your closet. Luckily, it's easy to get them back to their original color. All the cleaning supplies you need can be found at any drugstore. It may take a bit of elbow grease, but having a pristine pair of white shoes at the end of it.
For both of the following methods, you’ll need water, a scrub brush, a cloth, a bucket, and gloves to keep your hands safe. If you don’t have a scrub brush, a toothbrush will work equally well and has the advantage of maintaining more control. The additional products you’ll need will depend on which method you choose to use.
This method is suitable for almost any fabric, including leather. One baking soda cleaning solution is made using one part water, one part vinegar, and one part baking soda. Another uses two parts baking soda, one part water, and one part hydrogen peroxide.
Mix your ingredients thoroughly. After testing a small or hidden spot to ensure no adverse effects, apply the combination to the most stained areas of your shoe. Use your brush to work the mixture into the fabric thoroughly and scrub in a circular motion. When it absorbs into the shoe, apply more of the mixture and continue to scrub. Don't be afraid to apply this solution liberally!
Once the most noticeable stains have been removed, put your shoelaces into the mixture and apply the rest to any remaining stains. Let your shoes dry in the sun. This works most effectively in hot and sunny weather when the rays of the sun will natually bleach the fabric. Once they’re dry, brush off any excess paste, or give them a careful rinse if necessary.
This method isn’t advisable for leather sneakers but will work well on other fabrics and materials. To start, you’ll need one part bleach and four parts water. Make sure that your ratio is correct, or you could ruin your sneakers. Bleach may harm your health as well, so be sure to use protective equipment like gloves when you’re dealing with it. Don't forget to test a small spot on the shoe before doing the whole piece.
Dip your brush into the bleach solution and gently scrub your sneakers. Once you’ve worked it in, dip your brush in plain water and resume your scrubbing. This method will visibly whiten your sneakers while you clean them, so they don’t need to be soaked thoroughly.
You can further whiten your sneakers by leaving them out in the sun to dry. You can also toss them in a dryer if you don’t have the time to wait a few hours. If you’re concerned about the excess bleach, rinse them in water to remove the remaining chemicals
Don’t use straight bleach on your white sneakers, since this can cause yellowing. Try to avoid using large amounts of soap for the same reason. Sneakers that are made of leather shouldn’t be cleaned with ammonia, either. A mixture of baking soda and lemon may be another effective way to clean your sneakers, but the leftover lemon might turn the fabric yellowish.
The sun might cause your sneakers to yellow a little bit once you place them outside to dry. Some people recommend wrapping each shoe in paper towel, tissue paper, or toilet paper before you set them out to dry. If you choose to use a cleaner like soap or lemon on your sneakers, remember to rinse them thoroughly to remove any substance that could yellow in direct sunlight.
Tossing your sneakers in the washer will give them a good general cleaning but might be ineffective on more-soiled spots. If you’re going to use a washing machine before or after spot cleaning, be sure to use hot water and a small amount of detergent. You can also use a whitening additive to boost your detergent’s cleaning capabilities. Avoid this step for leather, but it can be a good second option for a canvas or plastic sneaker.
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