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How to Get Yellow Stains Out of White Shoes

September 20, 2023
Shoe Care
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Cleaning tools to get yellow stains out of white shoes.

White shoes: the perfect mix of style, versatility, and class. But what happens when your once pristine white shoes start yellowing? An all-too-common problem for sneaker enthusiasts and casual wearers alike, yellow stains can quickly ruin your favorite pairs. Luckily, we're here to guide you through the process of getting those stubborn yellow stains out of your white shoes, restoring them to their former glory.

The Culprits: What Causes Yellow Stains on White Shoes?

Before we delve into the solutions, it's crucial to understand the root causes that lead to yellow stains on your white shoes.

Sweat and Dirt Build-Up

Our feet sweat. Add that to dust and dirt, and you have a potent combination that can lead to the yellowing of your white shoes, especially the soles.

Sun Exposure

Prolonged exposure to sun can cause the fabric to oxidize and turn yellow. If you're in a habit of drying your shoes in direct sunlight after cleaning them, you might want to rethink your strategy.

Aging and Wear

Over time, the materials used in your shoes may begin to break down and discolor. It's a natural process, but it can be accelerated by wear and tear and lack of proper care.

Step-By-Step: Restoring Your White Shoes

The journey to restore your white shoes to their shining glory involves a few steps. Here's a detailed guide:


First, gather your cleaning supplies. You'll need:

  • Warm water
  • A mild detergent or dish soap
  • An old toothbrush or a soft brush
  • Two cloths: one for cleaning and one for drying
  • A container for mixing your cleaning solution


  • Make Your Cleaning Solution: Mix one part of warm water with one part of your mild detergent or dish soap in your container. Stir gently to create a soapy mixture.
  • Apply the Solution: Dip your brush into the cleaning solution and begin to gently scrub the stained areas of your shoes. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can damage the shoe material.
  • Rinse: Once you've thoroughly scrubbed all the stains, use a damp cloth to wipe away the soap solution. This step might need to be repeated a few times to ensure all soap residue is gone.


After rinsing your shoes, it's essential to dry them properly:

  • Blot the Shoes: Use your dry cloth to blot away as much water from your shoes as possible.
  • Air Dry: Let your shoes air-dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent further yellowing.

Advanced Techniques: How to Clean White Shoes with Household Items

Sometimes, regular soap and water may not cut it. Here are a few household items that can help.

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

A paste made from baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and warm water can be particularly effective at removing yellow stains. Apply the paste to the stains and let it sit for about 30 minutes before washing it off.

Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Yes, you can clean your shoes with toothpaste! Apply white, non-gel toothpaste to the yellow stains, and scrub gently with a toothbrush. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes then rinse off with warm water.

Preventing Future Stains on White Shoes

Now that you know how to get yellow stains out of white shoes, it's equally important to know how to prevent them. Here are a few tips:

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your shoes often, preferably after every wear. This helps to prevent dirt and sweat build-up, which are leading causes of yellowing.
  • Proper Storage: Store your shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Using a Shoe Protector Spray: These sprays create a protective layer on your shoes that repels water and stains.

Different Types of White Shoes and How To Clean Them

White shoes come in a variety of materials, each requiring a unique cleaning approach. Whether they’re made of canvas, leather, or synthetic materials, knowing the right way to clean your shoes can extend their lifespan and keep them looking fresh.

Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are typically the easiest to clean. For these, a gentle scrub with a mixture of water and mild detergent should be enough. Make sure to rinse thoroughly and air-dry.

Leather Shoes

Leather shoes require a bit more care. Specialized leather cleaners are available, but a mixture of mild dish soap and water can also do the job. Make sure to condition the leather after cleaning to keep it supple and prevent cracking.

Synthetic Materials

For shoes made of synthetic materials, a gentle scrub with warm soapy water can work. However, it's always best to check the manufacturer's care instructions before proceeding.

When The Stain Is Too Much

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about an unwanted yellow stain - especially if it’s caused by bleach damage. If that’s the case, you can always turn to Big Shoes for a new pair. If you're looking for some clean white sneakers, check us out!

Yellow stains on white shoes can be hard to avoid, but they're not always impossible to remove. By following these steps and tips, you can keep your white shoes looking as good as new for a long time. Remember: prevention is the best cure. Taking good care of your shoes from the moment you take them out of the box can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Happy cleaning!

Sure, let's dive into some Frequently Asked Questions that readers might have about cleaning their white shoes and removing yellow stains.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I clean my white shoes? 

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you wear your shoes and the conditions in which you wear them. If you wear your white shoes daily and in dirty or dusty environments, it's best to clean them after each wear to prevent stains from setting in. However, for occasional wear, cleaning them after every few wears should suffice.

Can I use bleach to remove yellow stains from my white shoes?

While bleach is a powerful whitening agent, it's generally not recommended for cleaning shoes. It can break down the glue that holds your shoes together and degrade the fabric over time, which can lead to premature wear and tear.

Can I put my white shoes in the washing machine?

This depends on the material of your shoes. Canvas shoes and some synthetic materials can often handle a gentle cycle in the washing machine. However, delicate materials like leather should never be machine washed. Always check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to be sure.

What's the best homemade cleaning solution for white shoes?

A simple and effective homemade cleaning solution can be made from equal parts water and baking soda. This mixture can remove many surface stains. For tougher stains, a paste of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a small amount of water can work wonders.

Can I dry my white shoes in the sun?

While air drying is the preferred method for drying your cleaned shoes, direct sunlight can often lead to yellowing, especially for white shoes. It's recommended to dry your shoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

How can I prevent my white shoes from yellowing over time?

Regular cleaning, proper storage, and preventative care are key to maintaining your white shoes. Avoid wearing your white shoes in muddy or dirty environments, clean them regularly, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Using a shoe protector spray can also provide a protective coating against stains.

How can I keep my white shoes white?

After each wear, wipe down your shoes with a soft cloth to remove any accumulated dirt. Regular deep cleaning, as outlined in our article, can also help maintain the whiteness of your shoes. For leather shoes, consider using a white shoe cream or polish.

Are there specific products you recommend for cleaning white shoes?

While homemade solutions work well, if you prefer commercial products, consider using a gentle shoe cleaner designed for the specific material of your shoes. Several shoe brands offer their own cleaning solutions and wipes that work well with their products. Always remember to spot test any new product on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't discolor the material.

Remember, each pair of shoes is unique and may require slightly different care. When in doubt, always refer to the manufacturer's care instructions.

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