Cleaning white leather trainers

We talk you through the do’s and don'ts of keeping your clean white crepes out of the box fresh

A pair of white trainers is as much a staple in a man’s wardrobe as a two piece suit. And just like that finely tailored piece, your sneakers require some regular upkeep to ensure they stay as fresh as the day you got them. After all, you wouldn’t wear a light coloured jacket with an obvious scuff or stain across it so why shouldn’t the same logic apply to your kicks?

Whether butter-soft leather or a classic canvas style, we’ve got the lowdown on how to clean, destain and maintain your shoes. Simply follow these steps and your white trainers never need look less than perfect.

Quick clean

First things first, before you do anything make sure you have allowed your white trainers to air dry especially if they have been out in the rain or exposed to any wet mud. Trying to clean them straight away could lead to you rubbing in stains thus making the issue worse.

Once they are dry, knock the soles of each shoe together and use a soft or natural bristle brush to remove any excess dirt (make sure the brush has not been used to polish any shoes as this could result in some much unwanted marks). Any other superficial stains can be removed using a damp cloth or towel.

Deep clean

For ground in dirt or unsightly sweat patches, you're going to need to give those white trainers of yours a little TLC. While some simply throw their sneakers into the washing machine, we strongly advise against this. The spinning motion can damage your trainers beyond repair and won't necessarily remove specific marks effectively.

Instead, like many things in life, it’s best to do it the old fashioned way by hand cleaning your shoes.

First, fill a bowl with warm water that is diluted with a small amount of washing powder or laundry detergent (approximately one scoop/30ml). Dip that bristle brush of yours mentioned previously into the bowl and scrub each white trainer in a circular motion over the entire shoe starting with the upper and finishing with the sole. To finish, use your cloth to wipe away any excess foam caused by the cleaning product.

Tough stains

We all know that in the course of a commute, a day at the office or, worst of all, an evening out on the town, white trainers face a host of potential threats. Thankfully, there is a solution to that accidental spillage and hard to reach stain and it comes in the unlikely form of toothpaste.

An alternative to premium cleaning solutions, simply apply a generous portion of toothpaste to the affected area using a toothbrush (not your own obviously) really rubbing it in to work away the dirt. Once done, wipe the with a damp cloth or towel removing any foam or residue. Leaving your trainers clean and minty fresh!


An easy way to revitalise your white trainers without the hassle of a full deep clean is to freshen up your laces. Delace each shoe and leave the laces to soak in a bowl of hot water and detergent (as per the process listed above) for an hour. Another option is to place each lace in a laundry bag and wash on a hot setting with white and light colours.

Having said all that, we always find that the most effective way to get fresh laces is to simply buy a new pair. You can even try mixing it with contrasting colours and weaves to match your outfit.


Each of the above steps can be followed one after the other and once completed make sure to allow your white trainers to air dry. Do so by placing on a towel in your bedroom or on a tiled kitchen floor and leave for 24 hours. Whatever you do, do not put them on a radiator as the heat can cause the glue to melt meaning the soles of your shoes could unstick (not a good look when you're halfway to a meeting).


While we cannot predict what will happen to your white trainers in the future, there are a few measures you can take to help protect them. Shoe care products such as a leather conditioner or suede protector spray are worthwhile investments that will not only keep your shoes looking their best but also help prolong their life. Another affordable alternative that's great for canvas sneakers in an everyday fabric protector spray such as those used for household furniture and furnishings.

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