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How to clean white trainers: The best ways to bring the sparkle back

Why is it only muddy when you wear white trainers? Don't worry, we've got you covered

A fresh, bright white pair of trainers is a summer staple that goes with almost any outfit. But unlike other coloured trainers, every single mark shows, and keeping them looking pristine is no easy task. It takes just one accidental step into a muddy puddle for your clean white sneakers to become filthy and potentially ruined.

But don’t be too quick to toss your trainers to the back of the cupboard, you can, with a little bit of effort, remove marks and muck as they appear, and keep your white trainers looking as good as new. So whether it’s your white gym trainers or your favourite Saturday night kicks, here’s how to tackle muck, grime, and marks to keep your trainers looking perfect.

What will you need?

You don’t actually need to buy anything fancy. Most muck and marks can be removed with a few general items that you’re likely to have lying around the house. An old toothbrush is one of the best tools you can use. A clean kitchen cloth or microfibre cloth is essential, and most marks can be removed with some good old-fashioned washing up liquid.

The basics

Before you grab your tools and start scrubbing away, it’s essential that you get rid of any clumps of mud – but make sure it’s nice and dry first. Pick or scrape off as much dry mud as possible, a stiff dry brush can be helpful for removing stubborn dried on deposits.

Next add a good squirt of washing up liquid to a small bowl of water, like a cereal bowl. Then moisten your cloth in the solution and use it to gently rub away marks. If you rub like crazy you risk spreading stains, so try to be gentle.

On the soles – the bit at the side – not underneath, grab your toothbrush and use the washing up liquid solution to scrub away any marks and stains, wipe off the mucky water with a dry cloth as you go so it doesn’t spread onto the rest of the shoe. If your trainers are canvas, you can also use the toothbrush to give the canvas a deeper clean.

How to clean white leather trainers

As with all leather, you need to treat it with care and avoid overly soaking the leather during cleaning. There are some shoe cleaning products you can buy if the above tips don’t work. But make sure any products are suitable for leather such as Liquiproof Labs Footwear & Fashion Cleaner and always follow the instructions on the pack.

Don’t wash leather trainers in the washing machine, it could damage them beyond repair. A whitener such as Crease Protect Max White isn’t a cleaner but will instead whiten those leather trainers that no longer come clean, so it’s great for reviving old trainers that still look grubby no matter how hard you try to clean them.

How to clean white canvas trainers

You can treat the canvas much like a fabric, so if the washing up liquid solution isn’t doing the trick, a solution of your favourite laundry detergent might loosen stains. Failing that, a liquid or gel stain remover that’s designed for clothes can work well, try Vanish Gold PowerGel and rinse away after treating as per the instructions on the bottle.

Most white canvas trainers can be washed in a washing machine, but in our opinion, this is an option best used on older trainers, because some brands can get damaged in the drum. If you want to give it a try, remove the laces and pop the shoes in a laundry bag or an old pillowcase tied at the top. Then select a gentle cycle with a low spin speed and use your normal laundry detergent. Beware though, they may take several days to dry thoroughly, so if you can, do this when the weather is warm and you can dry them in the sun.

How to clean white laces

If your white laces are grimy, your trainers will look scruffy even if they’re clean, so it’s worth paying attention to the laces. Always remove laces to clean them properly. You can either chuck them in the washing machine with your whites, but to avoid a knotted, tangled mess we’d recommend putting them in a laundry bag. Or, you can wash by hand, soak in a solution of your usual laundry detergent before rinsing and drying. For very dirty laces, soak in a stain remover such as Vanish following the instructions on the pack.

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How to keep white trainers clean for longer

Don’t wait until they’re filthy, the more dirt and grime you let build up, the harder they’ll be to clean, so try to remove muck and marks regularly. If you go to put them on and they don’t look pristine, a quick wipe over with a damp cloth can work wonders.

If they’re leather, you can buy waterproofing and stain protection sprays like this one – this is best done when your trainers are brand new and could help them retain that box fresh look for longer.

We hate to state the obvious, but if you’ve got very expensive white trainers, think carefully about where you wear them, and maybe keep a backup pair in the car. That way, if you end up on an unexpected walk after your pub lunch, or the weather takes a turn for the worse, you won’t be freaking out about your trainers getting ruined.

If you’re super precious about your trainers, you may want to keep some wipes like these Crep Protect Wipes close to hand when you’re out and about in your favourite trainers so you can tackle muck and marks without waiting until you get home.

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