Nothing spoils a crisp summer outfit more than wearing white Converse sneakers covered with stains, smudges and scuffs. It doesn’t matter how chic you look (or how great of a steal your maxi dress was!) if you can’t stop wondering if everyone is looking at your dingy shoes.
Our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab is constantly testing new products and cleaning techniques to come up with the most speedy and effective tips and advice to tackle all types of cleaning challenges, from spring cleaning tips and how to do laundry to yes, even keeping your shoes clean. Below, we answer your top questions about white sneaker cleaning, so you can rock your look with confidence year after year. Follow these easy steps to spiff up those Converse kicks in no time! (And if white Vans are more your style, we have cleaning tips for them, too!)
How can I clean my canvas and leather Converse sneakers?
The safest way to clean any type of Converse sneaker is by hand. Start by removing the laces and brushing off loose dust and dirt with a soft brush. Don’t forget the grooves and crevices along the rubber trim and the tongue.
Mix a little dish liquid, like Good Housekeeping Seal star Dawn, into a cup of warm water. Dip a cloth, soft brush or toothbrush into the solution and gently go over the entire shoe, including the rubber outsole and toe. Mix a fresh solution if the water gets very dirty before you finish. Drop the laces into the same solution for a soak. Next, take a cloth dampened in clean water and wipe the shoes thoroughly to rinse them.
Stuff your Converse sneakers with white paper towels to absorb moisture and help maintain their shape as they dry. Allow the sneakers to dry at room temperature away from heat and sunlight. Scrub and rinse the laces, then squeeze the excess water out of them and lay them flat to air dry. Voila!
How can I get tough stains out of my white sneakers?
What you use to remove stains depends on whether your Converse sneakers are canvas or leather. In either case, you’ll likely already have what you need in your cabinets already: either hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.
For canvas shoes, dip a soft brush in hydrogen peroxide and scrub. For stains on leather, dip a wet brush in baking soda and rub gently. Rinse the brush as it picks up the stain and apply more peroxide or baking soda as needed. Finally, for both materials, wipe the area with a clean, wet cloth to thoroughly rinse. Blot with a dry cloth and let air dry.
Can I put my Converse in the washing machine?
No. Unlike Vans (which doesn’t offer care recommendations on its site), Converse specifically cautions against putting its shoes in the washing machine. The brand doesn’t say exactly why, but we suspect it’s because it can’t predict how aggressive the washer might be and that the tumbling and spinning might damage the shoes. Converse sneakers are easy enough to clean by hand, so we think that’s the way to go.
How do I keep my white Converse white?
Before your first wear and after every cleaning, spray your white sneakers with a water and stain repellant spray to help them stay cleaner longer. The GH Cleaning Lab likes Kiwi Sneaker Protector for both leather and canvas shoes. When a mess happens, blot and spot-clean stains right away with a mix of mild dish soap and water to keep them from setting. This will make them easier to remove later on when you have time for a more thorough cleaning.
Between cleanings, remove scuffs and marks from the rubber trim with an eraser sponge, like GH Seal star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Durable. To tackle stains on the go, tuck a Shout Wipe & Go Instant Stain Remover in your purse. They are individually wrapped so they stay moist and are our GH Cleaning Lab’s go-to stain solution for clothing, shoes and more.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Carolyn Forté brings 40+ years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care and Cleaning Lab. She holds a B.A. in Family & Consumer Sciences from Queens College, City University of New York and has deep analytical testing and editorial writing expertise in categories like appliances, cleaning, textiles and home and organizational products. Carolyn produces all the cleaning and home care advice for Good Housekeeping in print and digitally.
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