How to Clean White Vans Shoes

White leather van shoes being cleaned with melamine sponge

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

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

Vans are classic shoes that come in many styles and materials. Regular wear can cause bright white shoes to turn dull and dingy, even if you avoid spills and stains. Learn how to restore your canvas, leather, and suede Vans shoes to their original luster.


Click Play to Learn How to Clean White Vans

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


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


Dirty white vans with ingredients and tools to clean

The Spruce / Almar Creative

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.

    Insoles being removed from dirty white vans

    The Spruce / Almar Creative


    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.

    Dirty white vans fabric scrubbed by toothbrush to remove dust layer

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

  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.

    Cleaning solution for white vans mixed in small bowl

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

  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.

    Dirty white vans fabric scrubbed by small scrub brush

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

  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.

    Dirty white van's rubber soles scrubbed by melamine sponge

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

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.

    Wet microfiber cloth wiping loose soil from white leather van shoes

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    White Vans soles being cleaned with melamine sponge

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    Castile soap and water solution lathering top of white leather Vans

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    White leather Vans laid on brown rug to air dry outside next to laces

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

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.

    Loose soil scrubbed off white suede Vans with soft-bristled brush

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    Cornstarch sprinkled on top of white suede Vans to remove stains

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    Melamine eraser rubbing suede Vans soles

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  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.

    White suede Vans placed on brown rug to air dry in sunlight

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

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.
White vans wiped down by damp cloth

The Spruce / Almar Creative

  • How do you clean your Vans without ruining them?

    Hand-washing your Vans will prevent your shoes from being ruined. Simply use a bit of warm water and gentle liquid dish soap with a soft brush or clean cloth. You should be able to remove a wide array of stains from your white Vans by hand-washing them at home this way. However, if a stain won't budge, you may visit a professional for more specialized advice. To protect white canvas Vans after every cleaning, prime them with a water/stain protectant. Treat suede Vans with a special suede protector spray.

  • Are white Vans machine washable?

    The manufacturer does not recommend putting any Vans in a washing machine to avoid damaging the fabric and insoles. However, if you want to try washing your canvas Vans in the washer, do so at your own risk and follow the instructions above in the tips box. Do not put suede Vans in the washer, however. While suede and canvas Vans are identical in build, suede is more sensitive to weather and water damage than canvas. Thus, use as little water as possible when cleaning suede Vans.

  • How do you clean white Vans without baking soda?

    The gentlest way to clean white Vans is to fill a bowl, bucket, or sink with warm water and add a few drops of gentle liquid dish soap. Swish the water to create suds. Use an old toothbrush or soft scrubbing brush dipped in the water and gently brush your Vans in a circular motion. Rinse the shoes using a moist cloth. Air-dry or dry shoes with a towel and avoid drying them in a machine.