How to keep white trainers and sneakers looking like new

For years, decades even, neon sneakers were all the rage. These days, whether because of the normcore trend, the popularity of Marie Kondo, Kanye West or just the tides of fashion, sneakers are all about the back-to-basics all-white look. We’re seeing this across the board from bigwigs like New Balance, Adidas and Nike to fashion-forward sneaker brands like APL — all-white (or mostly white) styles are among the most consistently difficult to snag. This poses one obvious problem: how to keep white sneakers white.

Pre-Treat New White Sneakers to Keep Them Clean

One of the easiest ways to prevent dirt and grime from settling on white sneakers is a pre-treatment. “The minute you take your shoes out of the box, it’s important to pre-treat them with a stain and water repellent.

“If you could protect your new APL sneakers, wouldn’t you?” Detergent doesn’t just remove stains, it helps protect fabrics, even synthetic ones, by leaving an eco-friendly, nonallergenic molecule behind that helps prevent future stains. To clean and protect sneakers, cold water with a small dose of HEX Performance Laundry Detergent and air-drying. All sneaker fabrics can be protected “Think about how you might apply Scotchgard to carpets and furniture; the idea is to prevent dirt and grime from sticking. It doesn’t mean the shoes will never get dirty, but it’ll be easier to get them clean,”.

How to Remove Stains From Sneakers

If you’ve missed the preventative window, Westervelt suggests using an old toothbrush or cloth and a small amount of detergent with some water to brush off dirt and scuff marks around the sides of the shoe. If you don’t want to go the toothbrush route, another go-to for sneaker buffs is Jason Markk’s Essential Kit. Each kit can clean up to 100 pairs of sneakers. Keeping Tight Wipes on hand to use immediately after staining occurs will make the cleanup task easier. “I strongly suggest wiping off stains or scuff marks as quickly as possible,”. “The longer they remain, the more they will penetrate into the fabric or leather.”

Can Sneakers Go in the Washing Machine?

The official word from APL, and this holds true for most performance brand sneakers, is that its white sneakers can go in the washing machine, but not in the dryer as they should be air-dried. For tough stains, pre-treat spots before washing — and don’t forget to remove insoles before washing. “White canvas shoes (like Keds, Toms and Converse) can handle a washing machine with cold water and then there are shoe brands like Allbirds, who pride themselves on being fully machine washable for easy care,” says Westervelt. When it comes to non-performance sneakers, however, like leather Adidas Superstars and basketball-type shoes, those shouldn’t be machine washed.

Will Washing White Sneakers Affect Performance?

One question remains: if washing gets out your stains, does it also wash away functionality? No one wants running sneakers that you can’t run in or cross trainers that will compromise your knees. “It doesn’t happen on every cycle or every shoe, but it’s possible for the machine to damage the shape and adhesive,” says Westervelt. “There are things you can do to help keep shoes safe in the machine. First, place them in a laundry bag (or even a pillowcase) for washing. Add a towel to the load to help cushion the tumbling. Wash in cold water and a delicate cycle. And finally, air-dry your freshly whitened shoes over a vent or in fresh air. It’s important to avoid high heat, so don’t tumble dry them.”

Author Profile

Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email

Leave a Reply