When it comes to casual footwear, white Vans are a classic shoe style that can complement any outfit, creating a cool and comfortable look. While Vans are versatile and trendy wardrobe staples, cleaning these white shoes can be daunting. White Vans get dirty often and easily, showing stains, mud and discoloration that can ruin your look. To keep your shoes white, clean and as good as new, it’s important to maintain and wash your Vans regularly without damaging the material.
Whether you have canvas, leather, suede or slip-on footwear, there are many ways to clean your white Vans. Some people will want to wash their canvas Vans in the washing machine with detergent, while others may prefer to use baking soda, bleach and hydrogen peroxide to scrub and get stains out. With so many different methods, it can be a challenge choosing the right treatment for your sneakers.
To help you, we’ve compiled this guide on how to clean white Vans. From baking soda and bleach to laundry detergent in the washer, explore the best ways to keep your white shoes clean by removing stains, mud, dirt and scuff marks.
How To Clean White Canvas Vans
While most people choose to machine wash sneakers made with fabric, there are several quick and simple ways to clean canvas Vans that will remove stains and restore the white finish. For best results, we recommend you experiment with these expert solutions for cleaning white canvas shoes at home before placing your Vans in the washer.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Many people prefer to clean white Vans with baking soda for an easy and effective solution. When it comes to shoes made with a canvas material, safe household products like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide work to make your footwear white again, giving you that new look without applying chemicals.
- If your Vans are canvas, remove all shoelaces and insoles before cleaning.
- To loosen dirt, use a dry toothbrush or small, soft-bristled brush to gently remove surface grime.
- Mix half a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of baking soda to create a paste.
- Using your brush, gently work the mixture into your shoes in a circular motion. Try to equally coat the shoes for an even finish. The peroxide should bleach your shoes while the baking soda works deeply into stubborn stains.
- When the shoes are covered, put them out in the sun to dry.
- Once the paste has hardened, rinse your shoes with a damp microfiber cloth to remove any residue. It’s also a good idea to wipe the soles for a glistening finish.
- Leave your shoes to dry in a warm place that is away from sunlight. Do not put them in the dryer under any circumstances. This will warp your Vans and ruin their shape.
Bleach is a great way to clean your white Vans and keep your shoes looking new. While this chemical is a stripping ingredient and should be used with care, bleaching your Vans can be effective at whitening the canvas for a fresh look. When cleaning your white Vans with bleach, make sure to invest in a dye-free product and work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling this hazardous chemical.
- Mix one part bleach and five parts water to create a powerful cleaning solution. Don’t use too much bleach as you’ll risk turning your Vans yellow.
- Dip a toothbrush in the bleach solution and work to remove stains, scuff marks and dirt. Scrub away to whiten the fabric, but be careful to avoid damaging the surface.
- Rinse your shoes clean with warm water and a cloth and let them dry overnight out of the sun.
- If your shoes still look dirty, repeat the process.
Magic Eraser is a great cleaning product for white sneakers and can help you remove stains and scuffs, resulting in clean white Vans. When exposed to water, this spongy product works by turning melamine resin into a foamy substance. The sponge becomes abrasive, cutting through dirt and trapping it in the foam structure for super-clean shoes every time.
- Start by soaking your Magic Eraser in water to activate the melamine foam.
- Work it over your shoes and take extra time to clean up scuffs and stains.
- If your vans are extremely dirty and soiled, use some dish soap with your Magic Eraser. This should remove even stubborn marks.
- Once clean, stuff your shoes with newspaper to maintain their shape and absorb excess moisture.
- Dry in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
If you don’t have time to spare, then cleaning your white vans in the washing machine is an option. Just be aware that running your washer on the wrong setting may warp your shoes so be sure to follow these instructions carefully.
- Before placing your Vans in the washing machine, remove any surface dirt with a soft-bristle brush. This should loosen dust and grime and enable it to wash out more easily.
- Spray your shoes with bleach, targeting spots with stains and marks.
- Put your sneakers in a white pillowcase or mesh washing bag along with some old towels. This will prevent your Vans from moving around too much in the washer and damaging our machine.
- Place your washing machine on a delicate cycle. You can also choose the hand washing setting on your machine.
- If your washer doesn’t have a delicate cycle, select a regular cold cycle for whites. Ideally, you’ll want to run the rinse cycle twice without any spin. If your washer doesn’t come with this option, just rinse your shoes again once the normal cycle completes.
- As a rule, it’s best to keep the temperature of the wash as cold as possible to prevent heat damage.
After cleaning your white canvas Vans, spray them with a stain repellant. An affordable sneaker protector should do the trick and will help keep your shoes white for longer. To make comprehensive maintenance easy, you can use mild dish soap to spot clean your Vans between washes.
How To Clean White Leather Vans
To maintain your shoes, leather Vans should always be washed and cleaned by hand. White leather footwear requires a more delicate touch if you want to protect the material, meaning you’ll want to avoid using hydrogen peroxide and bleach.
Baking soda is a great ingredient that will melt away dirt and grime on leather shoes without damaging their natural softness.
- Create a paste using two parts water and one part baking soda.
- Grab a microfiber cloth and gently work the paste into your vans. The force you use should be gentle but abrasive enough to remove stains. If your vans are very dirty, don’t be afraid to lightly wipe areas and repeat the process.
- Never use a toothbrush to clean white leather. The bristles are too abrasive and may leave permanent marks.
- When your shoes are clean, stuff them with paper or a towel so they maintain their shape while drying. If you don’t stuff your shoes, they may sink or warp.
- Place your shoes to dry in a warm area that doesn’t receive any direct sunlight.
Applying leather conditioner to your Vans after washing will keep them supple. Leather requires more care than cotton canvas and keeping your Vans moisturized will considerably extend their life.
Nikwax is a high-quality waterproofing and cleaning product used to maintain leather shoes. Endorsed by Vans, Nikwax will clean your leather Vans by removing dirt and stains, can protect your shoes from wear and tear, and will prevent the leather from absorbing too much water, which can damage the material over time.
- With a shoe brush or light cloth, start by removing surface dirt, stains and grime. Be careful not to brush too hard to avoid damaging the leather.
- Apply a small amount of Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to the leather and gently clean your shoes.
- Leave the shoes to dry in a warm place without direct sunlight.
- Once the shoes are dry, finish the job with a waterproofing spray or leather conditioner for maximum protection. Nikwax makes a good waterproofing treatment product that will maintain your white leather Vans.
- If you plan to wear your Vans in harsh weather, it’s a good idea to reapply this coating regularly.
How To Clean White Suede Vans
Suede is a delicate material that stains easily so you’ll need to clean your white suede Vans with extra care. While suede shoe cleaner is the perfect option, there are household products that can be used to clean suede Vans.
- Grab a suede brush and gently buff away any surface dirt from your Vans. Focus on all parts of the shoe for a thorough clean.
- Apply suede cleaner to an old toothbrush and work the product into your shoes. Be careful not to use too much product as a little goes a long way.
- Clean any rubber parts with warm soapy water and a toothbrush or cloth. If dirt is lodged deep in crevices, take your time to work the toothbrush back and forward over these areas.
- Tightly stuff your Vans with newspaper or towels to maintain their shape during drying. Choose a warm spot that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
If you don’t have suede cleaner, white vinegar is a good substitute to use when cleaning your suede Vans.
- For dirt and stains on your shoes, use an art gum or pink pencil eraser to gently pick up these blemishes.
- Dip a corner of a microfiber cloth into some distilled white vinegar and work it into the stains. Use a light touch as you don’t want to damage the delicate material.
- If marks remain, repeat the process until your shoes look new.
- Before drying, blot the area you’ve worked on with a clean paper towel to remove excess vinegar.
- Let your Vans air dry stuffed with paper or towels.
- Once dry, gently brush your shoes with a suede brush to restore their original finish.
How To Clean Slip-On Vans
Slip-on Vans are the easiest to clean, as they can be put in the washer without damaging your footwear or the machine.
- Place your Vans in a mesh shoe bag before washing.
- Put your washer on a low or gentle cold wash cycle and avoid adding a spin to the end of the wash.
- Air dry your Vans outdoors to avoid any damage. Just be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight.
How To Clean Vans with Toothpaste
While hydrogen peroxide and bleach are more effective products, toothpaste can help you clean white Vans by removing dirt and stains. To start, apply white non-gel toothpaste to your shoes and use a toothbrush to scrub the area. Leave the toothpaste on for 10 to 15 minutes and then wipe clean with a damp cloth. You’ll want to avoid using whitening or toothpaste gel to clean your Vans since these products contain additional chemicals that may damage or stain your shoes.
Can You Bleach White Vans?
You can use bleach on your Vans, but you need to take extra precautions. Before working with bleach, wear a pair of sturdy gloves to protect your skin. When bleaching, work on a clean surface and lay down an old towel to mop up any drips. Then, mix a small amount of diluted bleach with dishwashing liquid and apply the solution to your Vans.
Always ensure that your liquids are ammonia and chlorine-free to avoid damaging your shoes. If you want to spot clean white Vans, a Clorox Bleach Pen is an excellent product to check out. This precise tool removes unsightly stains and saves you from bleaching the entire surface of your shoes.
Why Did My White Vans Turn Yellow After Washing?
White shoes can turn yellow after washing when left in the sun for too long. Also known as oxidization, this chemical reaction occurs when you wash your white Vans and air dry them afterward. If your shoes aren’t rinsed properly, the residue left on the canvas will cause your shoes yellow and this discoloration can become permanent with repeated maintenance.
To avoid having your shoes become yellowish, wrap your Vans in tissue paper as they dry to ensure any oxidization is prevented. To remove the yellow stains, you may want to wash your shoes with hot water and dye-free bleach, baking soda or white vinegar.