How to Clean White Vans

Pair of White Vans on white background

Courtesy of Vans

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

White Vans are a classic shoe that can go with almost any clothing style. Whether you choose a classic white lace-up, slip-on, or stacked platform, the Vans will eventually get dirty. Even if you manage to avoid clumsy spills of food and drinks, just regular wear can cause that bright white to lose its dazzle. But you can restore your shoes back to its original luster.

Since Vans come in canvas, leather, and suede styles, we'll take you through the steps to clean every type of white Vans and some tips to keep them white.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

For White Canvas Vans

  • 1 Soft-bristled brush
  • 1 Shoe brush
  • 1 Small bowl
  • 1 Microfiber cloth

For White Leather Vans

  • 2 Microfiber cloths
  • 1 Small bowl

For White Suede Vans

  • 1 Microfiber cloth
  • 1 Art gum eraser
  • 1 Suede or soft-bristled brush

Materials

For White Canvas Vans

  • 1 tablespoon Baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 Melamine sponge
  • 1 Oxygen bleach
  • 1 Heavy-duty laundry detergent

For White Leather Vans

  • 1 Castile or saddle soap
  • 1 Baking soda
  • 1 Melamine sponge

For White Suede Vans

  • 1 Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Cornstarch or talcum powder
  • 1 Melamine sponge
  • 1 ream Paper towels

Instructions

How to Clean White Canvas Vans

  1. Remove Laces and Insoles

    Remove shoelaces and removable insoles before you begin cleaning. Laces should be placed in a small bowl of hot water with a teaspoon of heavy-duty laundry detergent and allowed to soak while the shoes are being cleaned. If the laces are very dirty and dingy, add a teaspoon of powdered oxygen bleach to the soaking solution. Insoles can be hand washed or replaced.

    Tip

    To keep your Vans in top shape, hand-cleaning is the most gentle method. However, if the shoes are older or you're pressed for time, you can machine wash canvas Vans. Pretreat heavily stained areas with some laundry detergent and place them in a mesh laundry bag. Wash with white clothes like towels and underwear using warm or hot water and the normal cycle. NEVER place them in the dryer.

  2. Brush Away Loose Soil

    Use a soft-bristled brush to brush away loose soil from the canvas. Removing this layer of dust will make the shoes easier to clean. Use a shoe brush or vacuum-cleaner upholstery brush or even an old, dry toothbrush to remove the soil.

  3. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of baking soda, two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide, and one teaspoon of warm water to create a thin paste. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to loosen soil; the hydrogen peroxide helps to whiten stained areas.

  4. Scrub Away Soil

    Dip an old toothbrush or small scrub brush in the baking soda mixture and gently scrub the canvas areas. Rinse by dipping a microfiber cloth in clean water. Wring until just damp and wipe down the shoes.

  5. Clean the Soles and Allow to Dry

    Use a damp melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) to remove any scuffs from the rubber soles. Allow the Vans to air-dry in a spot with good air circulation but away from direct sunlight.

How to Clean White Leather Vans

  1. Remove Laces, Insoles, and Loose Soil

    If there are laces or insoles, remove and clean them separately. Dip a microfiber cloth in warm, clean water and wring to remove excess water. Wipe down the entire shoe paying extra attention to seams and areas that have trapped dust and dirt. Move to a clean area of the cloth as you clean different areas of the shoe. Allow the shoes to dry for at least 15 minutes.

  2. Clean the Rubber Soles

    Dampen a melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) and clean the edges of the rubber soles. Do not use the sponge on the leather portions of the shoes; it can remove the top layer of the white leather.

  3. Clean the Leather Uppers

    Mix a bit of the Castile or saddle soap with warm water to create a soapy lather. Dip a clean microfiber cloth in the solution and use a gentle, circular motion to clean a section of the leather. Begin at the toes and work along the sides and heel.

    For tough-to-remove scuffs, sprinkle a small amount of dry baking soda on the cleaning cloth to use as a gentle abrasive and gently rub away the scuff.

  4. Rinse and Air-Dry

    Use a clean cloth dipped in plain water and wrung until just damp to wipe away any soapy residue. Allow the shoes to air-dry away from direct sunlight.

How to Clean White Suede Vans

  1. Remove Loose Soil

    Since suede leather Vans cannot take lots of water or scrubbing, it's important to brush away loose soil after each time you wear them. When it's time for a more thorough cleaning, brush the entire shoe with a soft-bristled brush to remove loose and embedded dirt.

  2. Remove Stains

    If there are oily stains, sprinkle them liberally with cornstarch or talcum powder to absorb the oil. Leave the powder on the stain for at least one hour and then brush it away. Repeat as needed.

    For scuffs and stains from soil, gently rub the suede with an art gum eraser. Do not scrub and work slowly to remove the stains in layers. If the eraser doesn't remove the stains, dip a microfiber cloth in distilled vinegar and gently rub the stained areas. Blot the treated area with a paper towel to absorb moisture.

  3. Clean the Rubber Soles

    Use a damp melamine eraser to clean the white rubber soles. Be careful not to accidentally scrub the suede with the eraser because it can permanently damage the suede.

  4. Air-Dry and Buff

    Allow the suede to dry completely after cleaning and use a suede brush to buff the shoes to lift any matted debris.

Tips to Keep Your White Vans Looking Great

  • Before wearing for the first time, spray white canvas Vans with fabric water and stain repellant. There are special repellants to protect suede as well.
  • Brush or wipe down white Vans with a dampened cloth often to remove loose soil and prevent it from building up on the shoe's surfaces.
  • If shoelaces are looking dingy, replace them. It's an inexpensive way to make older shoes look new again.