White Converse shoes are timeless and stylish, but keeping them pristine can be challenging, especially with regular wear.
Scuffs, dirt, and stains can quickly detract from their fresh look, and you might be considering splashing out on a new pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
However, with proper cleaning techniques and a little TLC, you can restore your white Converse shoes to their original condition.
In this guide, we walk you through step-by-step instructions to clean white Converse and keep them looking as good as new.
What’s the Best Way to Clean White Converse?
Cleaning white Converse shoes requires a gentle approach to prevent damage to the canvas or rubber.
Here’s a list of all the equipment and cleaning products you need:
- Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
- Mild laundry detergent or washing-up liquid
- Microfibre cloths
- Paper towels or newspaper
Once you have these things to hand, follow these steps to achieve the best results:
1. Remove excess dirt
Before washing your Converse, brush off any loose dirt from the surface using a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush.
This will make the cleaning process more effective and prevent loose dirt from spreading to other areas. You should also remove the laces, as these can be washed separately.
2. Create a cleaning solution
Make a cleaning solution by mixing warm water with a small amount of mild laundry detergent or washing-up liquid soap.
Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can cause discolouration and damage the shoes. They might even turn your white trainers yellow!
3. Spot clean stains
Dip a clean microfibre cloth into the cleaning solution and gently spot clean any visible stains on the shoes.
Rub the material in circular motions, using firm but gentle pressure. Be careful not to oversaturate the canvas to prevent water from seeping into the interior.
4. Clean the rubber soles
To clean the rubber soles, dip an old toothbrush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub.
Pay attention to the nooks and crannies where dirt tends to accumulate. It is essential to clean the rubber base before the canvas, as there is likely more dirt on the soles of the shoes that can spread.
5. Scrub the canvas
Using the same cleaning solution and toothbrush, gently clean the canvas parts of the shoes.
Work in small circular motions and be gentle to avoid damaging the fabric.
If the toothbrush and solution are particularly dirty, consider making a new cleaning solution before tackling the canvas material.
6. Rinse with clean water
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the shoes, dampen a clean microfibre cloth with warm water and wipe away any soapy residue from the canvas and rubber.
Be careful not to oversaturate your white Converse, which can prolong drying and cause your shoes to smell.
7. Air dry
After cleaning, stuff the shoes with paper towels or crumpled newspaper to help them maintain their shape while drying.
Allow them to air dry at room temperature, avoiding direct sunlight or heat sources—both of these can cause the shoes to turn yellow.
8. Clean the laces
While your white Converse trainers are drying, wash the laces. Fill your sink with warm water, add a little washing-up liquid, and agitate to form bubbles.
Submerge the laces in the water and let them soak for 15 to 20 minutes. You can scrub any stains with a toothbrush, rinse, and leave to air dry.
9. Rethread the laces
Once the shoes and the laces are completely dry, remove the newspaper and rethread the laces. Start at the bottom pair of eyelets, working diagonally upward.
Make sure not to pull the laces too tightly, as it is best to store Converse trainers in a way that allows airflow into the inside of the shoe.
Can You Put Converse in the Washing Machine?
If you’re desparate to clean your shoes quickly, you can put white Converse in the washing machine.
However, this isn’t our preferred cleaning method—your trainers are more likely to be accidentally damaged during cleaning if using a washing machine.
Converse also advise against doing this on their website.
If you do decide to wash your shoes in the machine, take the following precautions to help protect them and prevent unwanted damage:
- Remove laces and insoles: Before putting your Converse in the washing machine, remove the laces and insoles. This prevents the laces from forming knots during the washing cycle. You can wash the laces separately in the machine or by hand.
- Use a mesh bag: Place the Converse shoes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash cycle. The bag will prevent the shoes from banging around inside the machine and reduce the risk of damage.
- Gentle cycle with cold water: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and use cold water to prevent the colours from bleeding or the shoes from shrinking. Avoid hot water, as it can damage the glue that holds the shoes together.
- Add towels or blankets: To balance the load and prevent the shoes from tumbling too much, add a few towels or blankets to the washing machine. This will help prevent your washing machine drum from becoming imbalanced during the spin cycle.
- Use mild detergent: Add a small amount of mild laundry detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the shoes. You should also avoid things like fabric softeners when washing Converse shoes.
- Air dry: Once the washing cycle is complete, never dry them in a tumble dryer. Instead, remove the shoes from the mesh bag and let them air dry. Stuff the shoes with paper towels or crumpled newspaper to help them maintain their shape during the drying process.
How Do You Clean White Converse Without Turning Them Yellow?
One common concern when cleaning white Converse is the possibility of them turning yellow during the process. To prevent this, follow these tips:
1. Avoid bleach when cleaning
Bleach is a common product many of us turn to for cleaning white items. While it might be a quick-fix stain remover, bleach can cause white Converse to turn yellow if overused.
Bleach can also weaken the canvas and damage rubber over time, causing your trainers to wear out more quickly.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid using it altogether. Opt for mild cleaning solutions and detergents instead.
We recommend Ecozone Laundry Liquid for hand-washing Converse or Presto! Sensitive Laundry Capsules if you’re using a washing machine. These detergents are available from UK supermarkets or online marketplaces like Amazon.
2. Use white vinegar for stubborn stains
For more heavily stained white Converse, a detergent and water solution won’t successfully cut through stains.
Many people again turn to bleach to cut through these tougher stains. However, white vinegar is an excellent alternative for brightening white Converse without causing yellowing.
To use this stain remover, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. You can apply this directly to the canvas to spot-treat stains.
Leave it to sit for several minutes before rubbing in circular motions with a clean cloth or toothbrush.
3. Use less detergent & rinse properly
Even if you use the correct laundry detergents, lingering soap residue can cause your white shoes to look yellow. This occurs as the layer of soap scum left behind is gradually broken down.
It’s more likely to occur if cleaning your Converse in the washing machine, as the heat from the appliance can “bake” the residue into the canvas.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by using less detergent. If handwashing, make sure you properly rinse your Converse and remove all remaining detergents and products.
4. Keep them dry
Water and moisture can contribute to yellowing, leaving unsightly yellow water stains on your freshly cleaner shoes.
Don’t oversaturate your trainers with water or cleaning products, and make sure to dry your Converse thoroughly before wearing them again.
When drying your shoes, avoiding direct sunlight is crucial, as yellowing is more likely if the shoes are exposed to direct sunlight while wet.
This occurs as the ultraviolet (UV) rays break down chemical bonds in the dye, causing the colour to fade. The heat from the sun can also exacerbate the fading and make your Converse turn more yellow.
4. Store them properly
When not in use, store your white Converse properly. And we don’t recommend putting them back in their shoebox!
One of the main reasons Converse turns yellow is due to moisture on the material. Boxes have poor ventilation and thus can worsen discolouration.
Instead, find a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. Loosen the laces slightly and leave the tongue out to help improve ventilation into the shoes.
Also, ensure you only put your shoes into storage once they’re completely dry. If you’ve just washed them or got caught outside in the rain, leave them to air dry before putting them away.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.