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Few shoes are quite as iconic as the Converse brand, or as they are lovingly known, “Chucks.” The original high and low tops can be dressed up or down and are well-loved by lifters as a great gym shoe. Available in multiple colors, patterns, and materials, the classic white Converse is the epitome of freshness and cleanness when added to any outfit.
As with all white shoes, their look comes with a cost. They can get dirty quickly and start looking dingy. Luckily, how to clean white Converse can be quick and easy.
Below we walk through a few methods for cleaning both canvas and leather Converse. We also discuss how you can protect your Converse shoes and a few things to avoid when attempting to clean them.
Cleaning classic canvas Chucks
The Chuck Taylor All-Star has been around for over 100 years, debuting in 1917 as a basketball shoe. The Chuck Taylor heel patch was added in 1937 and has remained there to the present day.
Many people think of the canvas Chuck as similar to Vans. In reality, they actually are recommended to be cleaned quite differently.
Keeping them white begins with treating them with a stain repellent before use. If you have already worn yours, we will go over how to clean them thoroughly and then treat them with the repellent to keep future stains at bay.
Here’s a list of the products you will need:
Most, if not all, of these products, will be ones you already have at home. Now that you have your products assembled, it is time to start cleaning.
Follow the below steps for how to clean white Converse.
- Remove laces.
- Mix a little dish soap in a container of warm water. Soak laces in the container.
- Dip a clean cloth in the soap and water mixture. Wipe down the entire outside of each shoe, gently scrubbing at any dirt or stains.
- Moisten a toothbrush with the soap and water mixture. Use the toothbrush to scrub any spots or crevices with dirt in them. Move in small circular motions.
- Wet a clean cloth with warm water and wipe shoes again, removing any residual soap and dirt.
- Stuff white paper towels in shoes to help them retain shape while drying.
- Place in a cool, room-temperature place to dry.
- Rinse shoelaces under running water and lay flat to dry.
Easy! This will work for your general dirty white Converse sneakers.
If they are stained or need some extra help, you can make a paste with the oxygen cleaner and use the toothbrush to apply and scrub gently. Leave the paste on for a few minutes to let it work out the stain. Then rinse and dry as usual.
Cleaning leather Converse sneakers
Cleaning your leather sneakers will be similar to how you would clean canvas Chucks with just a few minor tweaks. You will want to avoid using oxygen cleaner on leather as it can bleach and discolor the leather.
You also want to use the toothbrush on the soles of the shoes only, not the leather. Below are the products you need for cleaning leather Converse:
- White paper towels
- Mild Dish Soap (Unscented)
- Clean cloths
Except for the oxygen cleaner, the products are the same. The process is similar as well. To clean your sneakers:
- Remove laces.
- Mix dish soap in a container of warm water. Soak shoelaces in the container while cleaning your shoes.
- Moisten a clean cloth in soap and water mixture. Wipe down the entire outside of each shoe, gently scrubbing at any dirt or stains. Microfiber cloths work great here.
- Wet a toothbrush with soap and water mixture. Use the toothbrush to scrub only the sole of the shoes. A toothbrush’s bristles could cause wear to the leather.
- Wet a clean cloth with warm water and wipe shoes again. This will help remove any residual soap and dirt.
- Stuff white paper towels in the shoes to retain their shape while drying.
- Place in a cool, room temperature place to dry.
- Rinse the shoelaces under running water and then lay flat to dry.
As easy as it is to clean your white Converse sneakers, it is even easier to treat them after cleaning to help prevent dirt and stains from sticking in the future. The easy process is below. All that is required is a can of sneaker protector or waterproofer spray that you can find online or at many retailers.
Protecting your white Converse
Whether canvas or leather, keeping your sneakers white should start with a good coat of sneaker protector. Ideally, you want to do this when they are straight out of the box, but cleaning them after wearing and protecting them can also work. The process is super simple.
Choose the product for your particular shoe, leather or canvas. Make sure your shoes are clean and dry then follow these directions:
- Hold the can 7-10 inches from your shoe and spray the entire surface evenly and thoroughly.
- Let dry at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Repeat application once more.
- Dry thoroughly before wearing.
A little prevention will go a long way. Protecting your Converse shoes will reduce the number of times you need to clean them and make cleaning them next time even more effortless.
What not to do when cleaning your white Converse
So let’s just quickly touch on the two things you should not do to clean white Converse.
- First, do not throw them in the washer and dryer. The washer can start to break down the adhesive in the shoe, and the dryer can cause the shoes to shrink and fit oddly.
- Second, you can wash your shoelaces in a mesh lingerie bag but should not put them in the dryer. The heat of the dryer can cause the plastic tips at the end of the laces to melt.
Frequently asked questions about cleaning white Converse
No, you should not put your white Converse in a washing machine. Converse’s support site cautions against doing this, for canvas, leather, synthetic, and suede shoe models.
No, you should never put your white Converse in a dryer. As advised by Converse’s support site. This will ultimately damage the shoe and increase the breakdown rate of the adhesives used to hold the shoe together.
Yes, when ordered from Converse.com. There is a 30 day return period in the event the shoe has been used and beyond this period if the shoes have not been used. If ordered from a different outlet, seek their individual return policies.
Like other materials, white Converse sneakers are subject to oxidation. You can help protect your white Converse by using white, non-gel-based toothpaste and toothbrush. Apply a tiny dab of toothpaste and slowly work it into the fabric with your toothbrush until the discoloration begins to fade away. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes then use a clean camp cloth to wipe off the dried toothpaste.
White Converse sneakers are an iconic shoe that has been around 100 years and will be going strong for probably another hundred more. If you want to keep those beauties looking bright white and spotless, then follow the tips and steps above to clean and protect them, so they are always looking their best, whether dressed up or down.
With the ease of how to clean white Converse, they should be bright and clean for every outfit!