How can I keep my white sneakers clean?

FORUM – This question has irked anyone who’s ever owned white shoes. Doris, author of the Austrian travel and fashion blog The Dorie, researched the issue for Ethletic. She discovered that lots of people simply wash their shoes in a washing machine, but a few who do reported back about unsightly yellow stains afterwards. To avoid this, others recommend placing white sneakers in the top rack of a dishwasher. And there are still other methods that require more of a hands-on touch.

Vinegar & baking powder

These two classic kitchen All-Stars will also keep your white sneakers clean. Mix equal parts white vinegar and baking powder and then use a toothbrush or nail brush to scrub the shoes. Then let it work in a little bit, but don’t let it dry before wiping it away with a wet cloth. Some people also recommend using dishwashing liquid instead of vinegar, but make sure it’s not colored!


Toothpaste is also a great stain fighter, and it can be used on cloth shoes and even leather, but remember here as well to only use completely white toothpaste to avoid discoloration! Simply scrub the dirty spots on the shoe with toothpaste and a little water using an old toothbrush, and you can also clean the soles or rubber edging while you’re at it. Then wipe away the leftover foam with a light-colored cloth and allow the shoes to dry!

Bile soap

If you’ve gotten oil on your shoes, then nothing does the trick better than good old-fashioned bile soap. For light oil stains shampoo can also do a good job, but bile soap has neutral coloring and is a true oil terminator! Thoroughly scrub the stain with bile soap and then just as thoroughly wipe away the residue.


If nothing’s working and the stain is still there, you still have a last-chance with lemon (at least before you reach for the bleach). That’s because lemon is a natural bleach. Just apply some lemon juice onto the stain and allow it to dry, ideally in the sun. This will bleach out light discolorations.

An extra tip: Use acetone-free nail polish remover to get rubber shoe edging and toe caps clean again.

Many thanks sweet Doris for this super-helpful report!

Photos: Doris Kimpfel
Editor: Sandra Laffrenzen