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How to Clean White Leather Shoes The Best Methods Explained

White leather shoes are a statement piece in the fashion world. They are stylish and classic and always look good on the wearer. However, they are easy to get dirty, especially if you are constantly walking outside. They are also harder to clean than fabric shoes because using chemicals like ammonia will cause discoloration of the shoes. Unfortunately, you can't put white leather shoes in the washing machine because you will destroy them. 

Using the wrong products can cause them to appear yellow, overbleached, or partially cleaned. Luckily, there are safe methods you can use to clean white leather shoes at home, like white vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, and toothpaste. If you use these techniques wisely, you can protect and maintain your shoes, and they will serve you longer. 

How Often Should You Clean White Leather Shoes?

Generally, you should clean white leather shoes after every use. All you need to do is to wipe them with a damp cloth or use a soft-bristled brush to brush off any surface soil or stains.

It is easier to remove soil and stains when they are fresh than waiting for them to accumulate over time. If your shoes are severely stained or soiled, they need a deeper cleaning process. You should also thoroughly clean your clean white leather sneakers before storing them for a long period.

5 Methods for Cleaning White Leather Shoes

Before you begin

Before cleaning your leather shoes, get them ready. Remove shoe laces and insoles and wash them separately. You can hand-wash them with liquid detergent and a soft brush. Next, air dry them and allow them to dry completely before returning them to the shoes. Alternatively, clean them in a mesh garment bag using a washing machine. If they have stains, add a drop of bleach to remove them. 

If your shoes are muddy, scrub them using a dry toothbrush or a small, soft-bristled brush. Remember to brush along the rubber soles and outer edges of the tongue. Dip a cotton or microfiber cloth in clean water and wipe down your entire shoe to remove any loose dirt. Pay great attention to seams and areas with trapped dust and dirt, and leave the shoes for about 15 minutes to dry.

1. How to clean white leather shoes using baking soda

You will need the following materials:

  • Baking soda paste

  • Microfiber or cotton cloth

  • Soft toothbrush

Using baking soda is great for cleaning your leather shoes, be it sneakers, white canvas shoes, or dress shoes, because it removes stubborn stains. Follow these steps:

Cleaning white sneakers

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  1. Dip a scrub brush or old toothbrush into the baking soda paste and apply it to the shoes. If there are stains, apply the paste directly to them.

  2. Work the paste into the leather by scrubbing using a circular motion.

  3. Let the baking soda sit on the shoes until dry, usually for 30 minutes.

  4. Rinse the shoes with clean water and a cotton cloth.

  5. If the stain is not gone, repeat the steps above.

  6. To dry the shoes, wipe away any residue with a damp clean cloth and let the shoes air-dry away from direct sunlight.

  7. Check if the shoes are completely dry, then apply a leather conditioner.

2. How to clean white leather shoes using white toothpaste

You will need the following materials:

  • White toothpaste (non-gel variety)

  • Nylon brush or cotton rug

  • Toothbrush

  • Microfiber cloth

Cleaning white shoes with toothpaste

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White toothpaste is another great solution for cleaning white leather shoes. Ensure your toothpaste is completely white, as coloured toothpaste and gels will stain the shoes. Follow these steps:

  1. Use a wet rag or towel to dampen the outside of your shoe. Ensure the rag is not oversaturated with water, as this can spoil your shoe over time. Pass the damp cloth over your entire shoe to remove the initial dirt.

  2. Put dabs of toothpaste over the stained areas of your shoes and rub them into the leather with your fingers. 

    Cleaning shoes with white toothpaste

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  3. Work in small, circular motions to scrub the toothpaste using a toothbrush. Continue rubbing until the stain breaks up as you rub the toothpaste around the entire shoe. 

  4. Wipe the toothpaste with a towel to remove what was left after cleaning. If you find it difficult to remove the toothpaste, dampen the rag with warm water and rub it off. 

  5. Wipe your shoes with a rag or microfiber cloth to dry them. The shoes should be completely dry before using them.

3. How to clean white leather shoes using olive oil and vinegar

You will need the following materials:

  • Olive oil

  • White vinegar

  • Spray bottle

  • Cotton or microfiber cloth

Follow these steps to clean white leather shoes with olive oil and vinegar:

  1. Mix vinegar and olive oil in a medium-sized spray bottle. Their ratio should be 1:2 for the vinegar and olive oil. Shake the bottle vigorously to mix well. The mixture will separate, so you need to keep on shaking as you use it.

    Cleaning shoes with olive oil and vinegar

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  2. Spray the solution generously on your entire shoe. Ensure the shoes have a nice coating, and if you notice areas with unwanted discoloration or dirt, add more solution.

  3. Let the solution soak for five minutes to help disintegrate the stains and remove any dirt from the leather material. 

  4. Use a dry cloth to wipe off the solution. It should come out together with the dirt and stains. Use a cotton or microfibre cloth to ensure your shoes are not scuffed.

  5. Wipe the shoe until it is dry. 

4. How to clean white leather shoes with soapy water

You will need the following materials:

  • Water

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Paper towel

  • Eraser sponge

Clean bright white shoes with water and soap

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Follow these steps to clean your white leather shoes.

  1. Mix liquid dish soap with a warm cup of water.

  2. Use a toothbrush dipped in this soapy water to scrub the entire shoe gently. 

  3. Remove any scuffs or stains using an eraser sponge.

  4. Use a cloth that is not too wet to wipe the shoes.

  5. Put paper towels inside the shoes to absorb the moisture inside. This will also help to maintain the shoes' shape as they air dry.

5. How to clean white leather shoes with bleach 

What You will need:

  • Bleach

  • Water

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Gloves

Cleaning white shoes with bleach

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You can use bleach to clean shoes with severe stains. However, you should use it with a lot of caution because if applied incorrectly, it can cause skin irritation and trouble breathing. When using bleach to clean white shoes or leather shoes, ensure you are in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves. Follow these steps:

  1. Mix up warm water with bleach at a ratio of 5:1, five parts of warm water and one part of bleach. Too much bleach can lead to the yellowing of your shoes. 

  2. Use a toothbrush or sponge to loosen the dirt and stains.

  3. Dip a microfibre tower into the bleach mixture and wring it out to remove the extra solution. 

  4. Blot the entire shoe with the towel.

  5. Rinse the shoe with a cloth dampened with warm water.

  6. Dry the shoes in a well-ventilated room. 


White shoes get dirty easily; if not washed properly, they can look old and unsightly. The above methods will help you clean your leather shoes properly to keep them looking pristine and give them a longer life.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Clean White Leather Shoes

1. What is the best thing to clean white leather?

To clean white leather, you can use olive oil and vinegar or toothpaste. To use olive oil and vinegar, mix 1/2 part olive oil with 1/4 part of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the stain and let it sit for five minutes.  Wipe with a damp cotton cloth. Avoid using bleach or ammonia-based cleaners because they can damage the leather.

To clean white leather with toothpaste:

  1. Dampen the stained area with a damp cloth.

  2. Apply a bit of white, non-gel toothpaste on the stain.

  3. Scrub away the stain using a soft toothbrush.

  4. Wipe the shoes with a clean cloth, then dry them with a towel.

Toothpaste is also effective in removing scuffs.

2. How do you make white leather white again?

If your white leather shoes are not so white anymore, you can make whiten them using bleach. Mix 1 part bleach with 4 parts water to make a cleaning solution. Use an old toothbrush and dip it in the solution, then scrub the dirty parts of your shoes. Rinse the brush with water, then while still wet, scrub the stains until they're gone.

3. Can you get stains out of white leather shoes?

Using a bleach solution or baking soda paste should get stains out of your white leather shoes, but if some stains are persistent, try this cleaning method. Combine 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 2 parts water, and 10 drops of lemon essential oil in a spray bottle. Place a dry clean white cloth under the stained area, then spray it with the cleaning solution. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dab the stain from the center moving outwards. Rinse it with clean water, then let the shoe air-dry.

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