Big Shoes - How to Clean Vans Step‑By‑Step Guide

Keeping your Vans shoes clean and well-maintained ensures they look great and extends their lifespan. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning different types of Vans, including canvas and suede.

Let’s discover the best ways for keeping your favorite kicks looking clean!

Can You Clean Vans in the Washing Machine?

The washing machine may seem like a convenient option, but it's generally not recommended for cleaning Vans. Let's explore alternative methods to ensure the longevity of your shoes.

How to Clean Canvas Vans


To effectively clean canvas Vans, you’ll need the following:

  • Stain remover
  • Shoe brush
  • Mild detergent
  • Warm water
  • Towel
  • Bowl
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush

How to Clean White Canvas Vans

If you’re looking to clean your white canvas vans, follow the following steps. Keep in mind that you can use the same steps for checkered, black, or patterned shoes.

  1. Remove loose dirt and mud using a shoe brush, paying attention to the rubber strips and bottoms.
  2. For stubborn stains, pre-treat them with a stain remover. Apply it directly to the stains and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Take out the insoles and laces from your Vans. Hand wash your shoes using warm water and a small amount of mild detergent.
  4. Avoid machine washing, as it can damage your canvas Vans.
  5. Wrap your damp Vans in a towel and gently press to remove excess water. Then, allow them to air dry naturally.
  6. Clean your laces by soaking them in a bowl of warm water mixed with a small amount of mild detergent. Rinse and let them air dry.
  7. Scrub the insoles with a mixture of baking soda and mild detergent using a toothbrush. Leave them for 15 minutes, then rinse and air dry.

Materials You'll Need to Clean Suede Vans

For cleaning and maintaining suede Vans, you’ll need:

  • Soft suede brush
  • Specialist suede cleaner
  • Mild soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Bowl

How to Clean Suede Vans

  1. Use a soft suede brush to remove surface dirt from the tops, sides, and bottoms of your shoes.
  2. For tough stains, apply a small amount of specialist suede cleaner to a toothbrush and work it into the stained areas.
  3. Clean the rubber strips and bottoms with soap and water using a toothbrush or soft-bristled scrubbing brush.
  4. Allow your Vans to air dry naturally, avoiding direct heat sources.

How to Safely Bleach the White Strip on Your Vans

The white rubber strip that adorns most Vans shoes is a defining feature, but over time, it can become discolored or dirty. While bleach might seem like an obvious choice, it can actually cause yellowing. Fear not! With these simple steps, you can safely and effectively restore your Vans’ white strip to its box-fresh condition.

Prepare Your Work Area

Find a clear work surface and cover it with a towel or sheet to protect it from any cleaning products.

Use masking tape to carefully cover the shoe’s material, preventing any accidental damage from cleaning products.

Select the Right Cleaning Product

There are safer alternatives to bleach, including white vinegar, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol, or acetone. These alternatives are safer than bleach and won’t cause yellowing.

Apply the Cleaning Product

  • Pour a small amount of the chosen cleaning product into a cup.
  • Take an old toothbrush or a small, soft-bristled cleaning brush and dip it into the cleaning solution.
  • Gently buff the white rubber strip in small circular motions.
  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid damaging the shoe.

Wipe Clean and Finish

  • After cleaning, wipe the white rubber strip with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess cleaning product.
  • Allow the shoes to air dry thoroughly before wearing them again.

Keeping Your Vans Clean

Here are some essential tips for maintaining the cleanliness of your Vans

  • Regularly wipe your shoes with a clean cloth or brush to prevent dirt buildup.
  • Store your Vans in a cool, dry place to maintain their shape and prevent damage.
  • Consider using protective sprays or creams specifically designed for the material of your Vans to repel stains and water.
  • Address any stains or spills quickly by using the cleaning methods mentioned earlier.
  • Perform regular maintenance checks, such as inspecting the soles and stitching, and addressing any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

When cleaning won’t help

At a certain point, you’ll need to swap out the old, tattered vans for a fresh pair. If you’re looking for tons of choices in big sizes, check out Big Shoes for daily deals on your favorite Vans.


By following cleaning and maintenance techniques outlined in this guide, you can keep your Vans looking fresh, clean, and stylish for a long time.