How to clean white trainers


It’s absolutely devastating when you buy brand-new, sparkling-white trainers and they get mucked up within the first week.

But unless you’re going to keep your white trainers in the box they came in 24/7 (which we think would be a travesty, by the way), then you’re going to want to learn how to clean them.

Cleaning your white trainers is an easy task to learn, and if you’re a parent reading this, it’s something you can teach your kids how to do too. After all, you know that trainers won’t stay white for long if they’re on your children’s feet! And it’s good for them to have the responsibility of keeping them clean.

Clean white trainers.

Why are white trainers so difficult to clean?

We all know that it’s much better for the environment and your pocket if you clean your trainers, rather than buying a new pair. But why do so many people resist? Well, mainly because it’s a bit of a hassle, and there’s not an easy way to do it. Plus, the last thing you want to do is damage them by giving them a good scrub!

That’s why we’ve put together this useful blog post, which tells you, step-by-step, how to clean your white trainers quickly and simply without causing any damage.

Firstly, we’ll give you our easy-to-follow four-step process, and then we’ll go through some tips and tricks for getting your trainers clean depending on the fabric.

Let’s get stuck in.

The one thing you shouldn’t do to clean your white trainers

Clean white leather shoes.

So your trainers have taken a bit of a beating and they’re caked in dirt. That's no problem, you can just throw your trainers in the washing machine, right?


It’s much safer for your trainers – and your washer – if you hand wash them. Putting your trainers in the washing machine could damage the glue in them, eventually causing them to fall apart (which would be a bit embarrassing if you’ve popped out to the shops).

We get it. Washing machines were invented to save us time and hassle. But hand-cleaning your trainers properly only takes 15 minutes. Spending some of that time now will keep your trainers lasting longer.

Plus, the price of electricity right now is enough to put anyone off running their washing machine unnecessarily!

The step-by-step process to cleaning your white trainers

So if the washing machine is a no-go, how do you clean your white trainers? Simple. Just follow our step-by-step process below…

Step One: Remove the shoelaces

To get into every nook and cranny to clean your trainers, you’ll need to remove the shoelaces. Simply soak the laces in warm water with a cleaning solution or even washing up liquid and this should get even white laces clean again.

You’ll want to remove any insoles too to give them a clean while you’re at it. You can clean your insoles in the same way we recommend you clean your trainers below.

Step Two: Remove any caked-on dirt

You’ll want to use a dry brush and buff the trainers to remove any loose dirt. Ideally, you’d use a dry brush or shoe brush for this, but you can also use a toothbrush (it might just take a bit longer!).

Step Three: Hand wash your trainers with a cleaning solution

You’ll need a cloth, warm water and a shoe cleaning solution. If you don’t have a shoe cleaning solution, you can use water mixed with a small amount of baking soda or washing powder.

Next, you’ll want to gently rub the trainer using circular motions, to remove any stains or dirt. Do this carefully throughout.

This process may differ depending on the fabric of your trainer, but you can see our tips below for different fabrics to help you!

Step Four: Leave them to dry

Step back from the tumble dryer!

Don’t use a tumble dryer or even a radiator to dry your trainers. This can cause them damage. Try to dry them naturally outside (yes, if you live in the UK, this might not be possible!), otherwise leave them to air dry naturally inside. Use a towel to pat them dry too.

Step Five: Give them a spray so they’re smelling sweet!

We’re sure your feet smell sweet, but understandably our trainers need a little freshening up every now and then.

You can use a spray like our trainer spray, Refresh Spray. Take your trainers outside, give them a spray and leave them for 10 minutes. That’s it. (And, yes, it even works on teens’ trainers too.)

Or you can use something like our deodoriser sacks. Just place them in your trainers to prevent bad smells, mould and bacteria!

But what about different fabrics?

You do need to be mindful about what fabric your trainers are made of and how to clean them. Depending on the fabric, you may need to do slightly different things to end up with clean trainers without damaging them in the process.

Clean white canvas shoes.

But don’t worry because, below, we’ll walk you through exactly how to do this.


Mesh and white attract dirt like a magnet! However, even though this colour trainer gets dirtier the quickest, it’s also one of the easiest to clean.

Just follow the steps above and remember not to get your trainers too wet. Once you’ve used a damp cloth and cleaned your trainers with your cleaning solution and water, make sure you remove all the soap. This is because any moisture can alter the shape of your trainers. Take a clean cloth or towel and pat them dry.

2. How to clean white leather trainers

Leather is a good, durable material, but it can get dirty easily and those stains can be tricky to get out. You also want to be careful with leather, because even though it’s durable, it can be quite sensitive!

Try not to get your white leather trainers too wet. To clean them, use a damp (but not wet) cloth and rub in a circular motion.

For extra tough stains, you can even use toothpaste! Add a very small amount to the stain and rub with a clean damp cloth.

Alternatively, you can use Boot Buddy. Boot Buddy cleans every type of shoe without damaging them, including white leather trainers!

3. Ways to clean white fabric trainers

Dirt and soil can easily get stuck in the fabric of white trainers, so you may find this difficult to remove with just the initial brush.

You can remove most dirt by using a little water and a cleaning solution. Bicarbonate also works incredibly well on fabric trainers.

Rather than using a cloth to clean, it might be a good idea to use a brush instead.

You can use a toothbrush, or a professional brush like Boot Buddy, which comes with three detachable brush heads, one of which is perfect for cleaning fabric trainers.

4. How to clean white canvas trainers

Okay, so there’s a lot of advice out there that tells you to use your washing machine for white canvas trainers.

We don’t agree.

For the sake of 10–15 minutes, it’s much safer to hand wash them! Follow the instructions above and use a toothbrush to clean your trainers fully. Or, use a professional brush like Boot Buddy, which has three detachable heads with one brush that can clean your white canvas trainers.

Should you buy a shoe cleaning kit?

Don’t fancy rustling up your own shoe cleaning solution? (We don’t blame you. It takes us 30 minutes just to find the bicarbonate.) Obviously, the next thing to do then would be to buy a shoe cleaning kit, wouldn’t it?

Cleaning white shoes & trainers to get rid of dirt and stubborn stains.

And you’d be right. A shoe cleaning kit does do the job of, well, cleaning shoes!

We would recommend you look for foam cleaners. Foam cleaners work well because they prevent your trainers (or boots and shoes) from getting too wet. Getting your trainers too wet changes their shape and can cause damage.

A foam shoe cleaner works better because it doesn’t make your trainers too damp and they’re much easier to dry too!

How can you clean your white trainers on the go?

If you’re taking your trainers on holiday, to the beach, camping or to festivals, you might also want to take some kind of shoe cleaner with you. After all, you don’t want your trainers looking dirty on the first day and then having to wear them all week!

It’s a good idea to look for travel shoe cleaning kits, like Boot Buddy, which are easy to carry.

Want to learn more?

Not to brag or anything, but we’re pretty proud of the fact that not one, not two, but three dragons from Dragons’ Den said yes to Boot Buddy. We absolutely love keeping your trainers clean and long-lasting and helping the environment in the process. If you’d like to know more about us, you can check us out here. Or head to our Boot Buddy shop.

Boot Buddy cleaning white trainers.
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