How To: Clean White Sneakers

I wear a lot of white sneakers. Like, a lot. They're my go-to shoe for everything from shorts to suits.

Keeping them clean can be a pain, but I think of it as caring for my sneakers the same way I would care for a pair of oxfords. Both need to be maintained over time. Brushed and polished. 

You wash your clothes, you should clean your shoes!

To keep your sneakers looking fresh, I put together a few tips and tricks I use on a regular basis:

For Canvas Sneakers:

The Modern Otter

1. Use a protective shoe spray as soon as you take the sneakers out of the box-

Most shoe brands carry some version of an aerosol shoe protector. It seals the canvas to prevent stains. Not fool proof, but it does keep them white for a little bit longer.

Just spray 6" away from the sneaker, let it soak in for 30 min, and spray on a second coat (or 3rd). I use it on all my Sperry's and Converse.

The Modern Otter

2. Sneaker Cleaning Spray

This is like soap for your sneaker. It foams up a little when you spray it on the canvas.

Rub it in with a damp cloth to work out stains and dirt. I may use this once a month or if they're noticeably dirty.

The Modern Otter | Mott & Bow

For Leather and Nubuck Sneakers:

The Modern Otter

1. Suede Eraser And Brush

It's exactly what it sounds like- a rubber eraser. They are made specifically to clean suede, but I have found they work great for all types of leather. Again, you can buy these at most shoe brands. 

Rub the eraser into the leather anywhere there is dirt or staining. The eraser will pill as it removes the dirt. Then use the brush to wipe away the pills and smooth out the nubuck or leather. 

The Modern Otter

2. Magic Eraser

Magic Erasers are my best friend! Wet them a little and you can wipe away almost anything. They work on leather, but I mostly use it for the rubber soles on all of my sneakers. That's the first thing to get dirty and it's also the easiest to clean! A few wipes and your shoes look almost new, even without cleaning the rest of the sneaker. 

The Modern Otter

What do you think? Were these tips helpful? Or is cleaning your white sneakers just too much work and you're probably going to buy new ones instead?

Let me know in the comments below! I'd love to hear if you have tricks of your own or if you'd like for me to keep doing "How To's"!

Aaron Wester