How to Clean White Shoelaces

cleaning shoelaces

The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Even if your tennis shoes are clean and bright if your white shoelaces are dirty and dingy, your shoes look terrible. Kids seem to have lots of trouble maintaining white laces after allowing the laces to drag on the ground or splash through a puddle. While replacing the strings may seem to be the easiest solution, that can get expensive.

Fortunately, you can maintain bright white shoelaces with just a few products from your laundry room.

How Often to Clean White Shoelaces

While there is no exact schedule to follow to keep laces white, the shoelaces should be removed from tennis shoes and washed separately every time the shoes are washed. You may find that having a second pair of laces in reserve is helpful so that one pair can be used while soiled laces are being washed and dried.

Before You Begin

Almost all flat white shoelaces are made from cotton fibers that can be whitened with chlorine or oxygen-based bleach. The more narrow, round shoelaces are made from synthetic fibers and can only be whited with oxygen-based bleach. Chlorine bleach will damage the outer white synthetic fibers and reveal the yellow inner core leaving the shoelaces looking dingy.

No type of shoelaces should be placed in an automatic dryer. The high heat can damage the plastic aglets (tips) at the end of the laces.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Glass or plastic medium bowl
  • Old toothbrush or small scrub brush
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Sink or bucket
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Drying rack

Materials

  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Enzyme-based stain remover (optional)

Instructions

items for cleaning shoelaces
The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

How to Clean White Shoelaces in the Washing Machine

  1. Remove the Laces From the Shoes

    Shoelaces should be washed separately from the tennis shoes so that every surface of the laces can be cleaned.

    removing shoelaces
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Rinse Away Surface Soil

    If the laces are muddy, hold them under a faucet running cold water at full force to remove the loose soil.

    rinsing shoelaces
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Pretreat the Laces

    Dip an old toothbrush or a small soft-bristled brush in a dab of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent or an enzyme-based stain remover. Working on a flat surface, use the brush to work the detergent into both sides for the laces.

    A heavy-duty laundry detergent like Tide or Persil contains the necessary enzymes to break apart heavy soil and stains. If you are using a less expensive detergent, use an enzyme-based stain remover to tackle the heavy grime.

    pretreating shoelaces
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  4. Place the Laces in a Mesh Laundry Bag

    To keep the laces from becoming tangled in the washer, place them in a mesh laundry bag.

    putting laces in a mesh laundry bag
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  5. Wash With a Load of White Laundry

    Toss the mesh bag into a load of white laundry—sheet, towels, cotton underwear—and wash in warm to hot water with a heavy-duty detergent. If the laces are made of cotton, chlorine bleach can be added to the load.

    washing shoelaces with a load of white laundry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  6. Not White Enough? Add a Bleach Soak

    When the washer cycle is finished, remove the laces from the mesh bag. If they aren't as clean or white as you would like, you can add a bleach soak. If you are using chlorine bleach, you may want to wear rubber gloves when adding and removing the laces from the solution.

    For cotton laces, pour two cups of warm water in a plastic or glass bowl and add one teaspoon of chlorine bleach stirring well to mix. Add the laces, swishing them through the solution so they are thoroughly wet, and allow them to soak for five minutes. When the time is up, rinse the laces in cool water. If you are whitening several pairs of laces, double the amount of water and bleach.

    For synthetic laces, pour two cups of warm water in a plastic or glass bowl and add one tablespoon of oxygen bleach stirring well to mix. Add the laces, swishing them through the solution to wet them thoroughly, and allow them to soak for at least two hours, up to eight hours is fine. Oxygen bleach works much more slowly than chlorine bleach. Rinse well before drying.

    soaking shoelaces in bleach
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  7. Hang the Laces to Drip Dry

    Hang the laces over a drying rack or towel rod to drip dry. If you must speed up the drying time, roll them in a thick terry cloth towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

    hanging shoelaces to dry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

How to Clean White Shoelaces by Hand Washing

Follow the same steps as those listed above—remove the laces from the shoes, rinse off loose surface soil, pretreat with heavy-duty detergent or an enzyme stain remover. Now you're ready to hand wash the laces.

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Fill a sink or bucket with four cups of hot water. Add 1/2 teaspoon heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. If you are washing several pairs of laces, double the amount of water and detergent.

    mixing a cleaning solution for shoelaces
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  2. Submerge the Shoelaces

    Add the laces to the detergent solution and swish them around for a few minutes to wet them thoroughly and make sure they are submerged in the solution. Allow the laces to soak for at least 30 minutes.

    submerging the shoelaces
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Check the Laces

    Give the laces a final swish through the detergent solution and then rinse with cool water. If they are clean and bright, they are ready to hang for drying. If not, it's time to do a bleach soak in either water and chlorine or oxygen-based bleach following the instruction above.

    checking the shoelaces for cleanliness
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Rinse and Dry

    After washing and/or bleaching the laces, give them a final rinse in cool water and hang to drip dry.

    hanging shoelaces to dry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena