Converse shoes are one of those easily recognizable fashion accessories that are loved by almost everyone. Rocking the jeans? Converse. Shorts or a cute skirt? Converse. You may not want to wear them with a business suit or a ball gown (who are we to judge), but that’s pretty much where the limitation ends.
Of course, the thing that makes Converse so cool is also the thing that makes them hard to keep clean: canvas. So here are some ways to get your white Converse looking fresh and new again.
The first tip we have is to try and prevent them getting too dirty in the first place. Start by spraying your clean or new Converse with a protective shoe spray. This will help keep them dry and clean, and make any dirt you do pick up easier to remove. Follow this up by wiping them down with a damp cloth after each use, and immediately removing minor marks and scuffs before storing them. A white pencil eraser can remove some minor marks, and is easy to carry around with you.
Now, right off the bat, Converse are quite adamant that you should NEVER put your Converse shoes in the washing machine. Many people disagree, and claim to have very successfully washed their Converse in the machine with no ill effects, so we are going to include machine washing methods in this article. It’s up to you whether you want to take the risk or stick to hand washing.
To machine wash your Converse in the safest possible way, put the shoes in a garment bag or pillow case to prevent them from bouncing around, and wash with cold water to prevent damaging the shape of your shoes.
Whichever of the following methods you choose, the first thing you want to do is remove the laces. They generally can’t be cleaned in the same way as the shoes, and they will only get in the way.
Watch the video below to learn how to easily clean your shoe laces.
Then brush the shoes off with a soft brush, making sure to remove any dirt from the soles, and from the tongue and lace eyelets.
Converse recommend a hand wash using mild soap and warm water. If you want to go this route, you can use an old toothbrush to get a deeper clean. If you’re going to machine wash, use cold water and a gentle wash cycle. Spraying your shoes with a stain cleaner before putting them in the machine can work wonders.
When your shoes are clean and rinsed, be sure to air dry them. A dryer—if used incorrectly—or any other kind of heat drying process will damage the glue, as well as the shape of your shoes.
Related: How To Dry Your Shoes In The Dryer
Some sources will recommend drying your shoes in the sun – if you want to do this, make sure your Converse are very well rinsed, or you may get some yellowing of the canvas from the sun reacting to the chemicals left in the fabric. Otherwise, for best results, air dry your shoes in a dry place, out of sunlight, for 2 days before wearing them.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is the most commonly recommended method of removing stains and yellowing from your white Converse shoes.
- In a glass or plastic bowl (not metal), mix a small amount of baking soda, white vinegar and warm water together to make a paste. Accounts vary as to precisely how much of each should be used, so we recommend starting with an equal serving of each. The mixture should fizz nicely.
- Cover your working area, as the paste may damage your surfaces if it drips while you’re working.
- Rinse or submerge your shoes in cold water, making sure they are completely wet.
- Scrub the dirty spots (or the whole shoe in the case of yellowed or very dirty shoes) with a clean old toothbrush dipped in the paste. You can scrub both the canvas and the rubber parts of the shoe.
- Leave the shoes to sit for a few minutes before rinsing off. Repeat the scrubbing process if needed.
- You may rinse and air dry the shoes at this point, or throw them in the machine with some regular detergent for a full wash cycle before air drying.
NOTE: If you have one or the other, but not both ingredients for this method, you may replace EITHER the vinegar with liquid laundry detergent, OR the baking soda with laundry powder. The mixture will not fizz as much, but will still be effective.
- Use a white toothpaste (not the gel kind) and an old toothbrush to scrub dirty marks on your shoes. Colorful toothpaste may stain your shoes.
- Allow the toothpaste to soak in for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse with cold water or machine wash.
- Air dry.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
- Make a paste using 1 tablespoon of baking soda, ½ tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and ½ tablespoon of warm water.
- Apply to your white Converse and let them stand for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the shoes in cold water or machine wash.
- Air dry.
Other methods include using bleach, which may cause yellowing, or acetone-soaked cotton pads, which is said to be an inferior method. We believe the above methods are the best options and will have your white Converse bright white and looking like new.
If the canvas of your shoes is still good but the rubber is scuffed or marked, substances like WD-40, all-purpose cleaner, and rubbing alcohol may do the job. Just be careful not to get it on the canvas. Rubbing alcohol may weaken the rubber over time, so don’t use this method too often.