How to Clean White Leather Shoes - The Right Way

How to Clean White Leather Shoes

While not a staple to many, white leather shoes — whether you have a white leather sneaker like those by Vans or another brand — are a timeless accessory that can complement any outfit.

However, keeping them spotless can be a task that seems more daunting than fashionable at times. Finding an effective way to clean white shoes without damaging the material is essential to keep your shoes looking great for years to come.

Join us as we reveal how to clean white leather sneakers using safe, simple methods that will ensure your footwear remains in pristine condition.

How Often Should You Clean Your White Leather Shoes?

Unlike other colored footwear that might hide dust and stains, white shoes or white sneakers reveal every bit of dirt, making them more maintenance-heavy.

This is where yellow stains become a noticeable issue, particularly if not cleaned regularly. To keep your white shoes or white sneakers in their best condition, aim to clean your white leather sneakers about every two weeks.

However, this frequency depends on how often you wear them. Regular wear tends to accumulate dirt faster, necessitating a more diligent cleaning schedule to maintain their condition.

Read related article: How To Remove Yellow Stains From White Shoes

How to Clean White Leather Shoes - A Step-By-Step Guide

Cleaning your white leather shoes regularly not only keeps them looking great, but also extends their lifespan.

Before we go through the steps of cleaning, here are some essential items you will need:

  • Soft clean cloth or brush
  • Mild soap, dish soap, or leather cleaner
  • Cotton swabs
  • Water
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

The cleaning process starts with preparing a gentle cleaning solution. Mix a few drops of mild soap or leather cleaner with warm water. Stir until you see bubbles forming at the surface. This solution is effective yet gentle enough to be used on the delicate surface of the shoe.

Step 2: Wipe Down the Surface

Begin by lightly dampening a cotton or microfiber cloth in the soapy water. Carefully wipe the surface of the shoe to remove any loose dirt or dust. It’s important not to oversaturate the leather to avoid water stains.

Step 3: Apply the Cleaning Solution

Dip a soft cloth into the cleaning solutions and wring it out so it’s damp but not wet. Gently apply it to the surface of the shoe, focusing on areas with noticeable stains or dirt. Use a circular motion for the best results.

Step 4: Clean Tough Stains with a Brush

For tougher stains that a cloth can't remove, use a soft-bristled brush. Dip it into the cleaning solution and lightly scrub the stained areas. Be gentle to avoid damaging the surface of the shoe.

Step 5: Rinse with a Damp Cloth

After cleaning, take a clean cloth dampened with plain warm water and wipe the shoes to remove any soap residue. It’s crucial to not leave any cleaning solution on the shoes as it can damage the leather.

Step 6: Allow the Shoes to Dry

Finally, leave the shoes in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can cause the leather to warp or crack. Allow the shoes to dry completely before wearing them again.

Read related article: How To Clean White Fabric Shoes the Right Way

How to Clean White Leather Shoes With a Scrubbing Paste

How to Clean White Leather Shoes With a Scrubbing Paste

Another way to clean white leather shoes is by using a DIY scrub paste. You can use a scrubbing paste to remove stubborn stains from your white leather shoes. Here are the things you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Non-gel white toothpaste

Step 1: Make a Paste for White Leather Shoes

For your white leather shoes to achieve that bright white look, begin by making a cleaning paste. Mix baking soda with a small amount of water until you get a thick paste. This paste is gentle yet effective for removing tough stains from the leather, ensuring your shoes stay clean and bright white without damaging the material.

Step 2: Apply the Paste to Targeted Areas

Use a toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush to gently apply the paste onto the stained areas of your white leather shoes. The key is to target the stains without aggressively scrubbing, as the white leather is delicate. Allow the paste to sit for about 5-10 minutes, giving it time to work on the stains before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Clean the Shoelaces Separately

Remove the shoelaces from your white leather shoes. If they are discolored, make a solution using water and a small amount of bleach. Remember, a little bleach goes a long way. Soak the shoelaces in this solution for about 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water. This process will help get your shoelaces back to being bright white.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry Your Shoes

After allowing the paste to sit, use a damp cloth to gently wipe off the paste from your white leather shoes. Ensure that you remove all traces of the paste to prevent any potential damage to the leather. This is followed by letting your shoe air dry in an open, well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight, which could cause the leather to crack or become discolored.

Can You Wash White Leather Shoes in a Washing Machine?

Can You Wash White Leather Shoes in a Washing Machine?

While you might be tempted to throw your white leather shoes into the washing machine, it's not recommended. The agitation and harsh chemicals used in the machine can damage the delicate leather material, causing it to shrink or warp.

The most common shoe materials that can be machine-washed are canvas, mesh, and nylon. However, it's best to check the care label of your shoes before attempting to clean them in a washing machine.

My White Leather Shoes Have Suede - Can I Still Clean Them?

Yes, you can! While it may seem tricky to clean suede on white leather shoes, it's not impossible. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Begin by using a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to remove any surface dirt from your suede shoes.
  2. Next, use a suede eraser or magic eraser to gently rub away any remaining dirt or stains.
  3. If the stain is still visible, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray it onto the stained area and gently rub it with a soft cloth.
  4. Allow the shoes to air dry before brushing them again to fluff up the suede fibers.
  5. Finally, use a suede protector spray to keep your shoes looking clean and new.

Useful Tips for Maintaining White Leather Shoes

leather spray

Get your Stone and Clark shoe deodorizer here!

Before we end this guide, here are some additional tips to help you maintain your white leather shoes and keep them looking pristine:

  • Always store your white leather shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach on white leather, as it can damage the material.
  • To prevent water stains, avoid wearing your white leather shoes in wet conditions.
  • Regularly clean and condition your white leather shoes to keep them looking new and prevent them from drying out or cracking.
  • Use leather spray for added protection against stains and dirt.
  • Use a shoe deodorizer to keep your shoes smelling fresh.
  • Don't wear white leather shoes on rough or abrasive surfaces, as they can easily be scuffed or scratched.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding the best way to clean white leather shoes is essential for anyone looking to keep their footwear in top condition. By following the comprehensive steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your white leather shoes remain clean, bright, and durable for years to come.

Always remember, the key to preserving the pristine condition of white leather is regular maintenance and gentle cleaning techniques, leaving your white leather shoes clean and ready for any occasion.

12PC Leather Shoe Shine & Care Kit for Men & Women

3.5 oz Mink Oil Leather Care Kit with Applicator

Subscribe Us
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a selection of cool articles every weeks