rolled red shoelaces

How to Clean Shoelaces

Are your favourite trainers being weighed down by grotty laces? It’s not a great look, is it?!

But don’t fret and get yourself in a knot over your filthy shoestrings because there’s a simple solution to your lacey problem – just wash your shoelaces.

Fasten up and get ready to unravel the guide on how to clean shoelaces.


How to Clean Shoelaces in the Washing Machine

red shoelaces and washing machine

You can clean white and colourful shoelaces using this method. Just make sure you clean your whites and colours in separate washes. Otherwise, you’ll end up with dyed laces!

Steps to follow:

  1. Grab your shoes and remove the laces from them.
  2. Grab an old toothbrush.
  3. Brush the debris off each lace using the toothbrush – you want to dislodge as much grime as possible.
  4. Treat any stains you see with a little liquid detergent or with an off-the shelf-stain remover (test it out first).
  5. Pop your laces in a mesh laundry bag – that’ll stop them from getting tangled up in the washing machine. 
  6. Start a normal washing cycle – add detergent.
  7. Remove the laces from the drum, then take them out of the laundry bag.
  8. Hang the laces up to air dry naturally – tumble dryers can sometimes shrink or warp the plastic ends of the laces (also known as ‘aglets’), so avoid drying them in this way.

Don’t own a laundry bag? Don’t worry you can use a neutral-coloured pillowcase instead!


How to Clean Shoelaces by Hand

yellow shoelaces and toothbrush

You can clean white and colourful shoelaces using this method. Just clean the laces at separate times so you don’t transfer any dyes about!

Steps to follow:

  1. Grab your shoes and remove the laces from them.
  2. Grab an old toothbrush and brush the dirt off each lace – get rid of as much grime as you can.
  3. Treat any stains you see with a little liquid detergent or an off-the-shelf stain remover (always do a patch test first).
  4. Fill a bucket with warm water and your normal detergent (make sure the detergent is handwash friendly).
  5. Pop your laces in the water.
  6. Make sure the shoelaces are submerged in the water.
  7. Wait about 20 minutes.
  8. Gently agitate the laces in the water for a few minutes.
  9. Scrub the laces with an old toothbrush to remove dirt from extra grubby sections.
  10. Drain the dirty water out of the bucket.
  11. Rinse out and refill the bucket with fresh water.
  12. Dip the laces in and out of the water to rinse the detergent off them.
  13. Hang the clean shoelaces up to dry naturally.

Note: Make sure your shoelaces are completely dry before you replace them!


How to Clean Leather Shoelaces

leather shoelaces

Steps to follow:

  1. Remove the laces from your shoes.
  2. Grab a very soft toothbrush and brush any debris off the laces.
  3. Soak a neutral-coloured cloth in water.
  4. Wring the cloth out – it must not be soaking wet.
  5. Move the damp cloth along the length of each lace to clean the dirt off them.
  6. Run a second dry cloth along the length of each lace to dry them.
  7. If need be, you can clean the laces with a little leather cleaner and recoat them with a protective coating.
  8. Allow the laces to dry naturally but keep them away from direct sunlight.

Tip: Don’t soak or saturate your leather shoelaces in water or cleaning solution! If you carry out either of these actions, you risk damaging and discolouring the material.


How to Whiten Shoelaces with Bleach

white shoelaces and bleach

If your white shoelaces have seen better days, you can revive them with a bit of bleach.

To clean extra dirty shoelaces with bleach, you must first make sure that the laces (material) can be bleached.

For example, leather laces cannot be bleached, whereas harder-wearing materials like cotton laces can.

If you’re not sure what your laces are made out of, skip this step and check out the alternative treatments in the section below – there’s no point ruining your laces!

Once you’ve established whether or not your shoelaces can be bleached, you then need to do a patch test with your chosen bleach.

So, pick a discreet section of lace and dab some bleach onto it. If nothing terrible happens, you can continue using the product.

Steps to follow:

  1. Pop some gloves on.
  2. As noted above, perform a patch test with your bleach. If there is a problem, stop what you’re doing and try one of the alternative solutions below.
  3. Read the instructions on the chlorine bleach’s packaging to find out how much product you need to use – you won’t need to use too much product as it’s strong.
  4. Fill a bucket with the correct measure of water and bleach.
  5. Pop your laces in a mesh laundry bag.
  6. Put the laundry bag in the bucket.
  7. Use a long wooden spoon to move the mesh laundry bag around in the water for several minutes.
  8. Empty the water out of the bucket.
  9. Pop the mesh laundry bag in the washing machine.
  10. Select an appropriate cycle (hot water would be preferable) and add detergent.
  11. Start the cycle.
  12. Dry the shoelaces naturally.

Note: Don’t mix bleach with other cleaning chemicals.


How to Whiten Shoelaces without Bleach

As mentioned above, you won’t be able to clean all kinds of shoelaces with bleach.

So, here are some alternative methods you can look into to brighten your white laces.

Tip: Test your chosen method out before you use it.

Option 1: Bicarbonate of soda

white shoelaces and bicarbonate of soda paste

Steps to follow:

  1. Mix about 120 ml of water with three tablespoons of bicarb (adjust if need be).
  2. Create a paste by mixing the two products together.
  3. Spread the paste over the length of each lace (cover both sides of each shoelace).
  4. Wait 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Hold one lace at a time under the cold water tap.
  6. Rinse the bicarb paste off the lace.
  7. Repeat Step 6 for the second shoelace.
  8. You can then clean your laces in the washing machine or by hand to make sure they’re extra clean.
  9. When you’re all done, hang the shoelaces up to air dry.


Option 2: Distilled white vinegar

white vinegar and dirty shoes and laces

Steps to follow:

  1. Fill a bowl with one part distilled white vinegar and one part water.
  2. Grab a cloth.
  3. Dip it into the liquid.
  4. Rub the cloth over the whole shoelace to coat it in the vinegar-water mixture.
  5. Wait a few minutes.
  6. Hold each lace under the cold water tap to rinse them clean.
  7. Clean your laces in the washing machine or by hand to make sure they’re extra clean.
  8. After the wash, pop your shoelaces on the line to dry naturally.