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There’s a satisfying feeling that accompanies buying a new pair of white sneakers—that is, until they start wearing down with grime (which seems to happen altogether too quickly). Like a lightning rod for all the dirt and dust that exists, white shoes are an exceptionally difficult article of clothing to keep looking like new, even if they are a necessary wardrobe staple. Nowhere is this more relevant than when it comes to white Converse Chuck Taylors ($50), a classic style that should look retro—not grungy. With this quick, simple guide to cleaning white Converse, your favorite old-school kicks will be back to mint condition in no time.
See our four easy steps to cleaning white Converse below.
Prep Cleaning Solution
The primary material of the shoes is canvas, which, luckily for us, means that white Converse respond well to an array of fabric cleaners. Feeling resourceful? Try a DIY cleaning solution using common household cleaning products: Simply mix two cups of warm water with two teaspoons of laundry detergent (shampoo or dish soap will also work in a pinch) in a large bowl or basin. To clean your shoelaces at the same time, prep a smaller bowl and soak them in the same solution while you scrub the shoes.
Whether you’re working to remove grass stains, dirt, or just about anything else, a little bit of elbow grease is key in getting your Converse sneakers sparkling. Grab a scrub brush (or a roughly textured dish towel) and get to work, periodically dipping the brush in a second bowl of non-soapy water to keep it rinsed. For the rubber sole, you may find using an old toothbrush more effective at getting rid of any dirt trapped in the nooks and crannies.
Wipe Down Your Shoes
Using a clean, wet cloth, wipe down your sneakers. This will help remove any lingering grime as well as the residue of any cleaning solution. When you’re finished, stuff your shoes with dry newspaper. This will help your sneakers to retain their shape and absorb excess moisture as they air-dry.
Or, the Easier Way
Now, there are two additional hacks to cleaning white Converse for those who simply don’t have the time, patience, or wherewithal for a DIY approach. The first is washing your white Converse sneakers in the washing machine. For this method, wash your Chucks by themselves on a low cycle with the shoelaces removed, using roughly half a cup of detergent. The second is the dishwasher method, which is similar: Place your laceless sneakers upside down on the top shelf of the dishwasher and wash them alone (we hope that goes without saying, but just in case), and remove after the wash cycle. For both methods, let the shoes air-dry, again with newspaper stuffed inside to hold up the shape of the shoes.
Now that you know how to clean white Converse sneakers, get out there and show off your new (or good-as-new) look.
Up next, read on for how to make your old suede shoes feel new again.