Matt and Roxy Ortiz joined us at the OluKai studio recently to help us answer this question: How do I keep my white shoes clean? They showed us their best home remedies for keeping shoes fresh without using bleach.
White shoes are precious. They look so good, but one wrong step and they’re scuffed. Luckily, you can clean them pretty easily. First, figure out if you’re cleaning mesh, canvas, or leather shoes. If it’s synthetic, here’s what to do.
HOW TO CLEAN WHITE MESH SHOES
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. A gentle brush (like a toothbrush)
2. 1 Tbsp mild detergent
3. Bowl of warm water
Once you’ve gathered everything, you can get started. If there are shoelaces, remove them. Soak those in a bowl of water to loosen dirt.
Pro-tip: Throw our removable gel footbeds into the washing machine for some extra TLC.
Next, wipe away any excess dirt or debris from your shoes using a soft brush or towel. Then, dip that same brush into a mixture of mild detergent and warm water. Gently brush your shoes using a circular motion until they look nice and white again, then set them out to dry. Sunny areas are best, like out on the lanai or in the window.
P.S. If this mixture doesn’t quite do the trick, try the canvas shoe cleaning method below.
And you’re all done. Just lace them back up and you’re good to go. Now, onto cleaning white leather shoes and sneakers.
HOW TO CLEAN WHITE LEATHER SHOES
Our leather sneakers are so easy to keep clean. Here’s the tool list:
4. Bowl of warm soapy water
5. Damp cloth
6. Leather cleaner or conditioner (optional)
Start the same way as synthetics. Remove the laces and drop them in warm soapy water or throw the laces and footbed into the wash. Wipe away any loose dirt and debris with a damp cloth. This might actually get most of the marks off. If you have leather cleaner or conditioner, now’s the time to apply. It’ll help them maintain their rich look and soft feel.
Pro-tip: Magic erasers are great for removing stubborn scuff marks on the sole of your shoes.
It’s that simple. Just let them air dry and re-lace them whenever you’re ready to get back out there. Be sure to let these shoes dry in the shade, as the sun could warp or discolor the tone of the leather. Okay, onto the trickiest material of all.
HOW TO CLEAN CANVAS SHOES
When it comes to making your white shoes look white again, canvas can be stubborn. However, it’s absolutely possible to get that just-like-new look with the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need:
7. Gentle brush (like a toothbrush)
8. Bowl of hot water
9. 1 Tbsp of baking soda
10. 1 Tbsp vinegar
Start by throwing your laces into a bowl of soapy water and brushing the debris off your white canvas shoes with the toothbrush. After that, mix the baking soda and vinegar with the hot water until it forms a paste. If your mixture is too crumbly, go ahead and add more hot water.
Once you have your paste, use the toothbrush to coat your shoes in it. When your shoes are completely coated, set them in a window or sunny area until the paste dries. It should take about 3-4 hours. The paste should begin to crumble and fall off after it dries, but you can tap them together or use a towel to remove any excess paste.
Pro-Tip: Stuff your shoes with newspaper to help them keep their shape while they dry.
If your white shoes are past the point of no return, grab a brand new pair at OluKai.com. We’re always adding exciting styles to the site. Check out the full video or subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the full OluKai Answers series and helpful content like this.