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Unlock the Secret: How to Whiten Shoes

December 13, 2023
Shoe Care
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Hand showing how to whiten shoes with brush and cleaner.

Keeping your shoe soles sparkling white can be a real challenge, especially if you're sporting larger sizes. We all know the frustration of slipping on our favorite pair of sneakers only to find the soles have lost their clean, fresh look. But don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. With the right techniques, you can maintain the appearance and hygiene of your shoes without causing damage.

In this article, we're going to walk you through some foolproof advice on how to whiten shoe soles, including for those big-sized sneakers that need a bit of extra care.

Why Shoes Discolor

It can be disheartening to see your favorite pair of shoes lose their bright white soles to the dreaded signs of discoloration. But what actually causes this unsightly change? Understanding why shoes turn yellow or brown over time is the first step towards understanding how to whiten sneakers and keeping them as white as the day you bought them.

  • Dirt Accumulation: The most evident cause is dirt. Every step we take exposes our shoes to dust, spills, and other staining agents that slowly but surely dull the bright white of a shoe sole.
  • Material Degradation: Shoe soles can also discolor as the material begins to break down. This can be due to exposure to the sun's UV rays, heat, and moisture, leading to a chemical reaction that alters the sole's color.
  • Materials Used: The specific materials used in your shoes also play a part. Rubber soles, for instance, can yellow as part of the natural aging process, while synthetic materials may react differently to cleaning agents.

 
When selecting cleaning techniques, consider the material of your soles. This is important for larger shoes are made with different materials to provide additional support and durability. Using the wrong method can not only leave you with less-than-white soles but could also damage your shoes.

Stay tuned as we dive into everyday cleaning routines and specially crafted home remedies that will keep your soles in tip-top shape. Whether it’s your daily joggers or those smart casuals you save for special weekends, we’ll ensure you’re stepping out with confidence and comfort.

Daily Practices to Keep Soles Clean

Keeping your shoe soles white can feel like a battle against everyday dirt and grime. However, with a regular cleaning routine, you can keep your larger sneakers looking fresh and clean. Here are simple steps to maintaining pristine soles:

  • Wipe after each use: Quickly run a wet cloth over the soles to remove any surface dirt.
  • Be cautious on rough terrain: Walk on clean surfaces when possible to minimize dirt accumulation.
  • Store wisely: Keep shoes away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place to avoid discoloration.
  • Use protective sprays: Invest in a stain repellent spray and apply it regularly to create a barrier against dirt.
  • Rotate your footwear: Regularly switching between pairs can prevent excessive wear and tear on any one pair.


By incorporating these habits into your routine, you can greatly extend the life and appearance of your shoe soles.

Home Remedies: How to Whiten Sneakers Safely

Over time, even with daily care, your sneaker soles can lose their bright whiteness. For those times, home remedies can be an excellent way to whiten shoes without causing damage. Let's explore some safe and effective methods:

  1. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide:
    • Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with half a tablespoon each of water and hydrogen peroxide to form a paste.
    • Apply the paste evenly across the soles and leave it for about 30 minutes.
    • Once dry, rinse off or use a brush to remove the paste and clear the dirt off.
  2. Toothpaste (non-gel, white):
    • Apply a layer of white toothpaste over the soles.
    • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
    • Scrub off with a brush and rinse with water.
  3. White Vinegar:
    • Soak a cloth in white vinegar, and then use it to thoroughly clean the soles.
    • If necessary, use an old toothbrush to scrub away stubborn marks.
    • Rinse with water after cleaning.
  4. Lemon Juice:
    • Squeeze lemon juice over the soles and spread it with a sponge or cloth.
    • Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub lightly with a brush.
    • Wash off the lemon juice with water.


By using these simple ingredients, typically found in your home, you can restore your sneaker's soles to their former glory.

Choosing Over-the-Counter Cleaners for Shoe Soles

When looking at how to whiten shoes, especially the soles, sometimes a simple home remedy isn't enough. That's where over-the-counter cleaners can be really helpful. If you have a pair of larger sneakers and you want them to look their best, you've got a variety of options. But remember, not all cleaners are created equal. Here's how to choose the safest and most effective cleaners for different sole materials:

  • Look for non-abrasive cleaners: You want something that will be gentle on your shoe's material.
  • Check the label: Make sure the product is suitable for the type of material your shoe is made of.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Products with bleach or other harsh chemicals might be too strong and could damage your soles.
  • Read reviews: Other people with large shoes have likely tried these products and can share their experiences.


Some good, commonly found cleaner types include:

  • Foam cleaners: Easy to apply and typically safe for most materials.
  • Spray bottles: Convenient for a quick touch-up.
  • Whitening pens: Perfect for spot treatments and areas that need precise application.


And when using any cleaner, always follow these steps to ensure no damage occurs:

  1. Test on a small, inconspicuous area first.
  2. Apply the cleaner as directed, using a soft brush or cloth.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, unless the product specifies otherwise.
  4. Let your shoes dry completely before you wear them again.

Preserving White Soles: Pro Techniques and Preventive Measures

A fresh, white sole can elevate the look of your sneakers, especially if you're sporting larger sizes. But how do you keep them gleaming after a good clean? The key is prevention and proper care. For those high-quality or sensitive footwear options, a professional touch might be needed. Here are some pro tips and preventive measures to help preserve those white soles:

  • Use a protective spray: Right after purchasing new shoes or cleaning them, protect the soles with a stain and water repellent spray that's right for the material.
  • Store shoes wisely and properly: To prevent discoloration, keep your sneakers away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place, and consider using shoe trees to maintain their shape and absorb moisture.
  • Rotate your footwear: Prevent excessive wear and tear and quicker discoloration by regularly switching between multiple pairs of shoes.


If you're in a scenario where your DIY efforts aren't cutting it, consider the following options:

  • Seek out a professional sneaker cleaner, especially for larger or delicate shoes.
  • Look into specialist shoe cleaning services that offer postal options if you don't have one nearby.


When it's time for a new pair of large sneakers, or if you need specific advice for your shoe size, Big Shoes has got you covered. With a wide range of sizes and products, from sandals to dress shoes, along with specially designed socks for larger feet, keeping your shoe game spot on is easier than ever.

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