How to Clean White Leather Shoes and Sneakers

How to Clean White Leather Shoes ans Sneakers

There is no doubt about it – if I can’t wear black shoes, then let them be white! I live in black shoes and boots all winter, but from spring to fall, I adore wearing white shoes. There’s nothing as modern and clean as bright white leather mules, pumps, slides, sandals, boots and sneakers. They’ve been on trend for a number of seasons now, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Besides thinking your feet may look too big (I say, who cares?), you may be hesitant to buy white shoes because they will scuff and get dirty. Well you can worry no more! There are several ways to keep your chic white leather shoes clean and bright. Here are 7 DIY tips on how to clean white leather shoes and sneakers.

How to Clean White Leather Shoes

1. Soap and Water Spot Clean ASAP

If you see a spot on your new white shoes, clean it up as soon as possible. That way the shoes will stay new looking each time you pull them out of your closet. The trick is to wash the spot with gentle bar soap (like Dove or Ivory) and warm water on a soft rag or super soft toothbrush. Gently wash the smudge or stain, taking care to not rub off the finish on the leather. If you are cleaning patent leather white shoes (or pleather) you can scrub a little bit harder.

2. Magic Eraser

If a soap and water spot clean did not remove the smudge, you may have to pull out the big guns. Yep, the Magic Eraser gets hard-to-remove scuffs off of white leather! Use the corner of a Magic Eraser with a bit of water to scrub. It magically takes the stubborn black scuffs right off. You can use it to remove scuffs on white leather shoes, white plastic heels, and it works beautifully on white rubber soles of sneakers.

3. White Nail Polish Touch Up

This touch up needs to be done very carefully, and is better suited for a scuff or smudge on your leather sneakers than a pair of Gucci pumps. However, white nail polish is a super quick way to white out a tiny smudge, stain or scuff. There is a wide variety of shades of white nail polish, but this also means that you will certainly find one to match your shoe color, but you should be super picky. I recommend Essie Blanc or Essie Marshmallow. Do not use a French manicure white, because it is too dull and chalky. Brush the polish on ever so lightly. You may need to dab the polish afterward with the corner of a paper towel, to avoid leaving a blob of polish on your shoes.

4. Toothpaste and a Brush

A toothpaste and a brush with water method is good for an all over cleaning for white leather shoes. This works well if you are wondering how to clean white leather sneakers. With sneakers, you will want to remove the laces and wash them separately so they are bright and clean, too (see tip no. 5). First, brush off any loose dry dirt on your white leather shoes with a soft brush or a rag. Next, dampen the shoes with water using a rag and wipe off the shoes (do not soak them). Rub a dab of white toothpaste (not a blue gel!) directly into each of the stains with your fingertips, and then gently use the toothbrush in a circular motion all over the scuffs on each of the shoes. Wipe the toothpaste off the shoes with a damp towel to make sure it has all been removed. Finally, wipe and shine your shoes with a soft dry cloth. If the shoes are slightly damp, let them air dry. They will now smell minty fresh.

5. Hand Wash White Shoe Laces Or Buy New Ones

Laces get dirty quickly, so how can you clean your shoes and forget the laces? Cleaning the laces will make your white shoes look new again. Using a few drops of bleach and detergent in a pint of water, scrub the laces with a toothbrush and soak them for at least 5 minutes. Then, rinse the laces and hang them up to dry. You can also scrap them and buy new bright white laces at a drug or shoe store, but be sure to first measure the laces on your shoes so that you purchase the correct length. I’d bring the shoe with you because white laces can also come in different shades of white, and you want them to match your shoes.

6. Vinegar and Olive Oil Solution

This is another way to do an overall white leather shoe cleaning and uses items you probably already have in your pantry. Combine ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of olive oil in a medium sized spray bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously and continue to do so through this process to keep the oil and vinegar from separating. Spray this solution to completely cover each of the shoes, and concentrate on areas where there is more dirt and smudges. Let the solution sit on the shoes for 5 minutes and wipe it off with a soft dry cloth. The dirt and debris will wipe right off with the solution! Any leftovers can be used on a salad.

7. Protect Your Leather Shoes

Now that your white leather shoes are clean, protect them from water and dirt with a waterproof spray for shoes like KIWI Boot Protector or Ecco Repel Waterproofing Spray. This is how to waterproof shoes. Make sure the spray is for smooth leather and not for suede. You should really do this when your shoes are brand new, so they won’t get dirty as quickly. Be sure to use repellent on your next new pair of white leather shoes! And now that you know how to keep them looking new, you won’t be afraid to buy another pair!

Shop for white leather shoes and clean up supplies here:

Carol Calacci

You may also like to read more of Carol’s fashion and DIY posts like 5 Best Investment Shoes for Women Over 40 and DIY: Turn Your Old Dusty Designer Handbag Into Something You’re Proud To Carry.


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