How to Clean White Converse

Four Methods:Full Cleaning with Baking Soda and VinegarDifferent Options for Removing Scuff MarksMagic EraserSpot Cleaning

White Converse shoes look great when they're brand new, but as you wear them, the white canvas can quickly turn an unappealing shade of brown as dirt gathers along the sides and top. Cleaning your white Converse is fairly easy, though, and can keep your shoes looking good for quite some time.

Method 1
Full Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

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    Remove the shoelaces. Unlace your shoes to expose as much of the white canvas as possible, making it easier to thoroughly clean your sneakers.
    • You can clean shoelaces separately by letting them soak in a bucket or basin of warm, soapy water, but know that they may never be as bright as they once were. An alternative is to replace your old shoelaces with new ones.
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    Rinse the shoes under running water. Drench your Converse shoes in cold water. You can either rinse them under a running faucet or dunk them into a large bucket or basin of water.
    • Use cold water instead of warm water to prevent any stains from setting in or any colors from running and ruining more of the white canvas.
    • You can work over the sink for the entire process, or you could spread out a sheet of wax paper or plastic over your counter or floor and work on that. The process can get messy and the cleaning solution can affect your counter or floor, so you want to avoid letting any excess drip off and onto something it could damage.
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    Make a paste with baking soda and vinegar. Combine enough baking soda and white vinegar in a glass or plastic bowl to form a foamy, thin paste.
    • Do not use a metal bowl or spoon. Metal can react negatively to the vinegar.
    • You could also use washing powder instead of baking soda or liquid laundry detergent instead of vinegar, depending on which you have on hand. The mixture may not fizz as much when made, but it will still be effective.[1][2]
    • The paste should be about two parts baking soda and three parts vinegar. Do not use red wine vinegar, however, as it stains. As a general rule, though, only use enough of each to form a paste-like consistency.
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    Scrub the paste over the shoes. Dip a clean toothbrush or nail brush into the homemade cleanser. Scrub the surface of the shoes all over with the same brush, cleaning all sides and focusing on any especially dirty areas.
    • Rinse again under cool water when done. This is not strictly necessary, but you can check on your progress and avoid getting baking soda or vinegar all into your washing machine.
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    Toss your shoes into the washing machine. Place your white Converse shoes in the washing machine along with a little standard detergent. Run the machine on a full cycle using cold water.
    • Do not use a chlorinated bleach or detergent.
    • To help prevent your shoes from banging around too violently inside the washing machine, wrap them in a mesh or fabric laundry bag before before throwing them in.
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    Let the shoes air dry. Converse shoes must be allowed to air dry. To speed the process up and help further the whitening effect, place your shoes in a warm, sunny, and dry location to dry.
    • The dry warmth of the sun can help dry the shoes faster, and the light of the sun actually has a mild bleaching effect.
    • Do not use a dryer. Machine drying white Converse will result in the shoes losing their shape.

Method 2
Different Options for Removing Scuff Marks

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    1
    Use plain soap and water. Usually, scrubbing scuff marks with a sponge soaked with soapy water will do the trick.
    • Use a mild soap, such as hand soap or a liquid dish detergent with no added fragrances or chemicals. Mix a few drops into a cup of warm water and stir until bubbles form on the surface.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 15Bullet1
    • When scrubbing the scuff mark, rub the shoe with your sponge using firm, circular motions.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 15Bullet2
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    Try WD-40. Spray a little WD-40 directly on the scuff marks and buff the marks away with a sponge or rag.
    • Among other things, WD-40 is often used to extract moisture and clean off dirt and residue from a range of surfaces. Only use it on the rubber part of the shoe, however, and not the canvas. As an oil-based product, WD-40 can leave stains on material like canvas.
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    Apply nail polish remover. Soak a cotton ball or cotton pad in a little acetone nail polish remover and scrub the scuff marks with the remover until cleaned.
    • Vigorously rub the mark with the nail polish remover to get rid of it. The scuff mark should fade in appearance almost instantly.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 17Bullet1
    • An acetone-based nail polish remover works best.
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    Dab on a little bleach. Dilute a small amount of bleach with water. Dunk a clean toothbrush into this bleach mixture and use it to scrub out the scuff marks.
    • Bleach is a known whitener, but it is also a harsh chemical. As such, you should only use just as much as you need to avoid damaging your shoes. You should also only use it on the rubber portion of the shoe and not on the canvas part.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 18Bullet1
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    Scrub out scuffs with whitening toothpaste. Apply the toothpaste directly to the scuff mark and scrub at it with a toothbrush.
    • A toothpaste with baking soda in it is preferable to any other. Baking soda has additional benefits as a cleanser, and as a mild abrasive, it can strip away the stain causing the scuff mark.
    • If you cannot find a baking soda toothpaste, though, another toothpaste with a whitening agent in it can also work.
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    Use lemon. Cut a lemon in half and directly apply the cut side of one half to the scuff marks on your shoe. Scrub vigorously to remove the mark.
    • Lemon juice is often used as a natural alternative to bleach.
    • Leave the lemon juice on the scuff mark for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off with cool, plain water.
    • If you do not have whole lemons, you could also scrub the spot with a little lemon juice and a toothbrush or rag.
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    Apply petroleum jelly. Rub petroleum jelly on the scuff mark. Let it sit for five minutes before wiping it away with a damp rag.
    • Petroleum jelly can cling to the dirty particles of scuffed up material and lift away the debris.
    • Keep the petroleum jelly on the rubber portion of the shoe and avoid the canvas part, if possible. The oil in petroleum jelly can sometimes leave a light stain of its own on fabric.
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    Rub the scuffs with rubbing alcohol. Apply the rubbing alcohol to the scuff marks with a cotton ball or cotton pad. Scrub well, and clean any remaining alcohol off with a damp rag when done.
    • Rubbing alcohol is a very strong household substance that can strip away many forms of stubborn debris and grime.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 22Bullet1

Method 3
Magic Eraser

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    1
    Remove the shoelaces. Unlace your shoes to expose as much of the white canvas as possible, making it easier to thoroughly clean your sneakers.
    • You can clean shoelaces separately by letting them soak in a bucket or basin of warm, soapy water, but know that they may never be as bright as they once were. An alternative is to replace your old shoelaces with new ones.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 11Bullet1
  2. Image titled Clean White Converse Step 12
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    Moisten the shoes. Dampen your Converse shoes in cold water. You can either rinse them under a running faucet or dunk them into a large bucket or basin of water.
    • You could moisten the magic eraser instead of the shoe, but making the shoe damp ensures that there will be enough moisture throughout the entire cleaning process.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 12Bullet1
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    Scrub with a magic eraser. Use a “magic eraser” cleaning product to gently scrub the canvas shoes from toe to heel, getting as much of the material as possible.
    • As one spot of the sponge gets dirty, turn it to another portion of the sponge.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 13Bullet1
    • Magic erasers do not use any harsh chemicals, making them especially good options if you have pets or young kids, or if you otherwise prefer to keep chemicals out of your home.
    • This eraser contains a melamine polymer.[3] It feels flexible and somewhat soft to the touch, but this polymer is actually a rather effective abrasive foam. When you use the eraser, you literally scrape the dirt away with physical force.
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    Let air dry. Place the shoes in a warm, sunny, and dry location to dry. Doing so speeds the process up and helps to heighten the whitening effect.
    • The dry warmth of the sun can help dry the shoes faster, and the light of the sun actually has a mild bleaching effect.
    • Do not use a dryer. Machine drying white Converse will result in the shoes losing their shape.

Method 4
Spot Cleaning

  1. Image titled Clean White Converse Step 7
    1
    Remove the shoelaces. Unlace your shoes to expose as much of the white canvas as possible, making it easier to thoroughly clean your sneakers.
    • You can clean shoelaces separately by letting them soak in a bucket or basin of warm, soapy water, but know that they may never be as bright as they once were. An alternative is to replace your old shoelaces with new ones.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 7Bullet1
  2. Image titled Clean White Converse Step 8
    2
    Apply a stain stick to the dirtied spot. Use a spot cleaning stain stick on any stained spots you wish to remove. Follow the label instructions when dabbing the stain stick cleaner onto the stain.
    • Note that no pre-moistening is required when using a stain stick unless the label specifically calls for it. If the label does call for it, follow the instructions provided on the label to determine how much water to use.
    • While specific instructions can vary, usually, you will rub the moistened tip of the stain stick over the stain on your shoe using a firm, circular motion. Extend the cleanser just outside the edge of the stain to prevent the stain from spreading outward onto clean white material.
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    Toss your shoes into the washing machine. Place your white Converse shoes in the washing machine along with a little standard detergent. Run the machine on a full cycle using cold water.
    • Do not use a chlorinated bleach or detergent.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 9Bullet1
    • If you want to prevent your shoes from banging around in the washing machine too much, wrap them in a mesh or fabric laundry bag before before throwing them into the machine.
      Image titled Clean White Converse Step 9Bullet2
  4. Image titled Clean White Converse Step 10
    4
    Let the shoes air dry. Converse shoes must be allowed to air dry. To speed the process up and help further the whitening effect, place your shoes in a warm, sunny, and dry location to dry.
    • The dry warmth of the sun can help dry the shoes faster, and the light of the sun actually has a mild bleaching effect.
    • Do not use a dryer. Machine drying white Converse will result in the shoes losing their shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoelaces (optional)
  • Bowl, basin, or bucket
  • Water
  • Clean rag
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Stain stick
  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • Mesh or cloth laundry bag
  • Non-chlorinated detergent
  • Magic eraser
  • Mild soap
  • WD-40
  • Nail polish remover
  • Bleach
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Lemon
  • Rubbing alcohol

Article Info

Categories: Care of Shoes