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Washing sneakers: how to clean white Converse

Always put your best foot forward with our step-by-step guide to cleaning canvas shoes by hand and in a washing machine.


white converse on a printed carpet

If you want to know how to clean white canvas shoes it’s probably because you’ve got a very old and much-loved pair sitting in the back of your wardrobe. There’s nothing like a pair of clean white Converse, but what’s best practice when it comes to washing sneakers and learning how to clean white Converse without turning them yellow or clean any white fabric shoes for that matter? Let's find out.

A detergent like OMO is the perfect product to help clean Converse sneakers both in the washing machine and by hand.

How to wash white Converse: a step-by-step guide

  • Step 1: remove the laces to expose as much of the canvas shoe material as possible.

  • Step 2: soak your Converse in cold water.

  • Step 3: make a paste of two parts bicarbonate of soda to three parts white vinegar. Don’t use other types of vinegar as these can stain. If you don’t want to make your own paste, a good quality liquid detergent like OMO will do just as well.

  • Step 4: apply the paste or detergent directly to the shoe and use a toothbrush or nail brush to gently scrub the canvas. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the shoe.

  • Step 5: after washing white Converse, rinse them in cold water.

  • Step 6: dry the shoes outdoors and take advantage of South Africa’s bright sunshine. This will help brighten their whiteness.

  • Step 7: if any stains remain, follow the steps below on how to clean sneakers in a washing machine.

How to clean white Converse shoes in the machine

If you’ve tried washing by hand and some stubborn stains remain, double check that your brand of shoe can be put in the washing machine. If it can, follow these key steps:

  1. Remove the laces and clean them separately.

  2. Place your shoes in a mesh bag or pillowcase. This helps to protect them during the spin.

  3. Put the machine on a low temperature and gentle cycle. Anything more could affect the glue or materials.

  4. Use a laundry detergent, like OMO, and avoid fabric conditioners.

  5. Leave your shoes to air dry outside in the sun.

Those are our top tips when it comes to how to clean white fabric shoes. Remember to always check manufacturers’ instructions and keep the process gentle throughout. Once it’s done, you’ll have a bright, white pair of shoes ready to take you anywhere in style.

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Our instructions are generalised and should be safe for most footwear brands, but always check the manufacturer’s instructions first to avoid unwanted damage.

  • Remove the laces before cleaning any shoe.

  • Use a detergent like OMO when washing Converse-style shoes.

  • Never use hot water as this could loosen the glue used to hold your shoes together.

  • Always air dry. Use the sun’s amazing power as a natural brightener by drying them outside!

Originally published