white mesh shoes - feature image

6 Best Ways to Clean Your White Mesh Shoes

White sneakers are a summer wardrobe staple, and cannot be overestimated in their value. Whether you’re spending your day on the beach or spending an hour on the tennis court, going to the movies or meeting a friend for an afternoon cocktail, a pair of white sneakers will fit the occasion perfectly.

In recent years, mesh footwear has been growing in popularity, and we completely understand why. Here you have a sneaker (or a boot), with all the benefits that brings, but without many of the disadvantages! Mesh shoes are lightweight, airy and breathable, preventing that awful worn shoe smell, and keeping your feet cool and fresh. They can be used as a fashion item or as a sports shoe, and all you need to do is keep them clean and white. Here’s how we recommend you do that.

Mesh shoes are made from plastics, not woven fabrics, and as such, there are certain advantages and disadvantages when caring for them. White mesh shoes do not have the same tendency to turn yellow that canvas shoes have, but they are more sensitive to machine washing because the mesh can break from the wear and tear, leaving holes in your otherwise perfect shoes. We don’t recommend putting your mesh shoes in the machine, but if you decide to go that route, be sure to place them in a mesh laundry bag intended for sensitive items, and wash them on a gentler cycle.

As they say, prevention is better than the cure, and we think this statement applies perfectly to keeping your shoes clean. Follow these tips to avoid letting your shoes get to the stage where drastic measures are needed for cleaning:

  1. Always wear thick, good quality socks with your mesh shoes to avoid causing sweat stains and smells.
  2. Try to avoid getting your white mesh shoes wet, as this will affect their shape, color and smell.
  3. Apply stain repellent followed by water repellent to your brand new or recently cleaned white mesh shoes.
  4. Apply foot powder to your feet, as well as your shoes before you put them on.
  5. Carry a white art eraser and some cleaning wipes with you to clean up minor marks on the go.

But what if my shoes are already dirty?

Despite all your good intentions, your white mesh shoes have become dirty and stained, and you desperately need to know how to make them bright and clean and looking new again… Don’t worry, we have the answers!

Firstly, remember that the mesh material is sensitive, and can easily become damaged with harsh treatment.

For this reason, you will want to use soft bristled brushes when cleaning your shoes, and you should use gentle, circular motions, relying on time and repetition, rather than hard scrubbing to remove stubborn marks and stains.

Before beginning any of these methods, you will need to remove the laces from your white mesh shoes. Laces can be washed separately, either by hand or in the machine, though we recommend using a small laundry bag so your laces don’t become knotted in the wash.

Method 1: Soapy Water

  1. After removing the laces, gently scrub your shoes down with a soft bristled brush, removing all loose dust and dirt from the whole shoe.
  2. Follow up by wiping the shoes down with a damp cloth. This way you can see which marks still remain, and will need more serious cleaning.
  3. Mix some dish soap with warm water, and using an old, soft bristled toothbrush, gently scrub the footwear in circular motions.
  4. You may soak the shoes in lukewarm water to further aid the soap in getting rid of the stains and marks, but remember that the wetter they get, the longer your shoes will take to dry.
  5. If you are still seeing some marks after cleaning with soap, try spraying the shoes with some stain remover, and giving them another gentle scrub.
  6. As a very last resort, if all stains and marks are not removed with the above steps, spray some white vinegar on the remaining spots of dirt, and leave the shoes in the sun to whiten.
  7. When drying your white mesh shoes, leave them in a warm, dry place, or out in the sun, and make sure they are completely dry before wearing them again. If they were fully soaked during the washing process, leave them for 2 days before wearing them again. Stuffing your shoes with white paper towel while they dry can help absorb water, and reform the shape of the shoes.

Method 2: Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

  1. Remove the laces, and brush and wipe down your shoes to remove loose dust and dirt.
  2. Mix ½ tablespoon hydrogen peroxide, ½ tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon baking soda together to make a paste.
  3. Using a soft bristled toothbrush, gently rub the mixture over the shoes in a circular motion, paying special attention to the dirtiest spots.
  4. Allow the shoes to stand for about 30 minutes with the mixture on them before rinsing well and allowing them to dry fully.

Method 3: Diluted Bleach

Using bleach on any material can have unwanted consequences, so be sure to use this method with care, and not too often.

  1. Remove the laces, and brush and wipe down your shoes to remove loose dust and dirt.
  2. Mix bleach with water in a ratio of 1 part bleach to 5 parts water.
  3. It is best to use gloves when handling bleach, so put them on now.
  4. Apply the bleach to the shoes by dipping a soft bristled toothbrush in the solution and gently scrubbing it onto the white mesh shoes in a circular motion.
  5. Once you are satisfied that all dirty marks have been removed, rinse the shoes well and allow to dry completely before wearing.

Method 4: White Toothpaste

  1. Buy a tube of white, non-gel toothpaste.
  2. Remove the laces, and brush and wipe down your shoes to remove loose dust and dirt.
  3. Dampen your white mesh shoes with water, and gently scrub them with the white toothpaste in circular motions.
  4. Wipe the footwear clean with a damp cloth, removing as much toothpaste as possible.
  5. Allow to dry fully before wearing.

Method 5: OxiClean

  1. Remove the laces, and brush and wipe down your shoes to remove loose dust and dirt.
  2. OxiClean, or any other good stain remover, can be mixed with water and scrubbed gently onto your white mesh shoes.
  3. Wipe the shoes clean and allow them to dry.

Method 6: Shoe Cleaning Kits

Shoe cleaning kits come with their own instructions, and all the tools you will need to clean your shoes. This is a more expensive way to clean your favorite footwear, and it is not reported to be the most successful option, so spend the cash at your own risk!


Here’s a video with some of the mentioned cleaning methods.

Now your white mesh shoes are clean and bright white, and you are ready to rejoin the world! Enjoy.

Amy Catchpole

Amy Catchpole is a lifetime farm girl who currently lives on a farm with her husband, dogs, horses, and sheep. As a farmer, she is very concerned with lasting and durable tools and products, as well as the environment and the welfare of the planet. Aside from farming and animals, Amy’s biggest passion is the English language, and she is an avid writer and editor.

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