In today’s post we’ll talk about the most effective way to clean white canvas sneakers and get them back to almost as good as new!
My basic white canvas “Superga” sneakers are some of my most-worn shoes and it definitely starts to show after a little while! I’ve come up with a pretty good system for keeping them fairly clean and white so I thought I’d share with you today incase yours are starting to look like they could use some attention. We were out at a local farm doing a photo shoot for their fall harvest last week and things got pretty dusty as we were walking back and forth, moving pumpkins and mums around to try to get the perfect shot. I thought that since my shoes are looking particularly dirty right now, this might be the perfect time to share my method for how to clean white canvas sneakers!
Preparing the White Canvas Sneakers to be Washed
My method for cleaning my white canvas sneakers is a bit different from the way I clean my running shoes, but it starts out pretty much the same way.
The first thing you’ll want to do is take your sneakers apart as much as possible. Remove the laces and pull out the insoles, if possible. Shake out any dirt, dust or debris.
I give my white sneakers a little extra hand-on care compared to the way I treat my running shoes, just because we’re on well water here and I don’t want them accidentally turning orange. Canvas is also a bit more finicky than the types of fabrics usually used on running shoes. If you’re up for it though, you can totally throw your shoes into your washing machine once we get to that step, so grab yourself an old pillowcase if you’d rather more closely follow my running shoe cleaning tutorial than this one.
Cleaning Your White Canvas Shoes
The first thing I like to do is give everything – sneakers, laces, insoles – a good spray-down with my favourite stain remover. Typically, it will just be dust that you’re dealing with on your shoes, but there’s no telling for sure what have splashed on your shoes during the course of your travels around town with them. Let them sit for about 10 minutes, and then it’s time to get cleaning.
If you really want to, you can throw your shoes into your washing machine on a delicate setting, but because canvas has a tendency to become misshapen, and as I said before, because I have well water that turns things orange, I like to wash my shoes by hand.
I have a big ceramic bowl that I use for all of my hand washing and I fill that up with slightly-warm water and a little bit of detergent. Then I dunk my shoes, laces, etc. in and let them sit for about 30 minutes.
After that, I see where I’m at and if there are any areas that still look a bit dirty, I take an old toothbrush and scrub those areas gently.
Drying Your Canvas Sneakers
As I mentioned before, canvas has a tendency to lost its shape, so you really want to be careful how you dry your white canvas sneakers. Although drying them in the sun is great for deodorizing and whitening, it can cause some parts of the shoes to dry much faster than others resulting in shrinking, bubbling, and general warpy-ness.
Your best best is to place them somewhere warm and dry, where they’ll be able to dry completely without any remaining dampness but where they’ll dry a little more slowly.
My favourite trick is to leave them sitting directly on our heated floors in the mudroom. This provides them with very gentle, overall heat that really works well. If you don’t have heated floors anywhere in your home, somewhere like next to a furnace, a heating vent, or a few feet from a fireplace (in the winter when it’s in use) are great options.
Be sure to kind of shape your shoes by hand before you being the drying process. If there’s a weird bend or fold in the canvas when they dry, it will hold that shape after the drying process is complete.
I should also note that white canvas darkens a bit when it’s wet. When your shoes first come out of their bath, they might still look like they’re quite dirty, but they will lighten up a lot as they dry!
And that’s how it’s done! Look how great these shoes look! Do you have a pair of white canvas sneakers that you love as much as I love mine? What do you do to keep them looking white and bright?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.