White sneakers are a summer staple; they look great with everything from the most tattered jean shorts to the fanciest ball gowns. While beat up, broken in-looking sneakers are a look in their own right, there’s just something about a perfectly white pair of white sneakers.
Of course, keeping white sneakers white can be a challenge! So we enlisted Jason Angsuvarn, a sneaker care expert and the founder of Jason Markk, to share his tips and tricks for keeping white sneakers — whether they be leather, canvas or mesh — bright white all summer long.
First, some general advice on keeping white sneakers white: “Definitely pretreat them with Repel before wearing them out,” Angsuvarn says. “Stay on top of cleaning them after each wear. And last but not least, keep the laces as clean as possible as well.”
Though you may not want to hear it, the best sneaker cleaning advice is simply to do it. “Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your shoes,” Angsuvarn says. If the thought of regularly scrubbing your kicks sounds like more of a commitment than you’re willing to make, sneaker wipes are for you.
Before you clean the sneakers, remove the laces, which trap dirt and grime on the tongue and around the eyeholes; removing the laces allows you to better clean the entire shoe.
Cleaning white leather sneakers is fairly straightforward, according to Angsuvarn, “Use a soft bristle brush with our RTU Foam cleaner to keep the leather clean and conditioned.”
If, after cleaning, there are nicks or whisker lines marring the appearance of your white sneakers a shoe whitener or white shoe polish will fill in those blemishes.
Cleaning white canvas sneakers is similar to the process for cleaning leather sneakers, but there are a few differences in the approach.
“First, always dry brush the entire upper of the shoes with a soft bristle brush,” Angsuvarn says, which will dislodge dirt from the canvas fabric.
“Next, use the same brush with our deep cleaning solution and some water to work the upper of the shoe, creating a foamy lather,” Angsuvarn says. “Depending on the shoe, you may be able to rinse the uppers with running water. Use a couple of microfiber towels to soak up as much liquid from the canvas. Then just allow to air dry.”
Magic Erasers are excellent at removing dirt and scuff marks from the midsoles of sneakers, and can help to keep white canvas sneakers looking cleaner in between washing. To use, wet the Eraser, squeeze out excess water, then rub it over the soiled area just the way you would a pencil eraser.
Cleaning white mesh sneakers, Angsuvarn says, is “a very similar process to cleaning canvas,” but there is an extra step to take to ensure the best results.
Angsuvarn says to follow the steps for cleaning canvas sneakers, “except you’re going to insert a microfiber towel into the shoe and apply slight pressure upwards as you scrub. This is going to help the dirt work its way out of the material.”
Like canvas sneakers, most mesh sneakers can be rinsed with cool running water, gently squeezed dry with a towel and allowed to air dry. Flipping the tongue over the toe box of the shoe will allow air to circulate, speeding up drying time.