Men's Fashion

How To Clean White Vans So They Look Brand New: The Best 7 Methods in 2022

Whether you’re battling pizza grease, festival dirt, pub grime, or city streets, keeping white shoes clean can be a real challenge. They’re precious when purchased but hardly shiny after a couple of wears. If you learn how to clean white Vans, you’ll always be able to keep your white shoes white and looking like they just came out of the box.

It’s surprisingly easy to clean white Vans at home, and there are plenty of methods to try with cupboard staples. So grab your scrub brush and keep reading to learn how to clean white Vans seven different ways. 

man sitting on the ground wearing white vans adjusting his watch
louis.km / Instagram

How to Clean White Vans

This guide includes step-by-step instructions about how to clean white Vans shoes using different methods at home. Keep reading to discover your new cleaning solution.

White Old Skool Vans

Using baking soda is one of the most common ways to clean white Vans, as this kitchen staple scrubs away grime unlike any other. Follow these steps to restore your Vans to their sparkly white condition to match any skate clothes you throw on:

Step 1: Remove the insoles and laces (you can wash these in soapy water).

Step 2: Combine two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide in a mixing bowl.

Step 3: Apply the mixture to your white Vans with a toothbrush, scrubbing in a circular motion to lift dirt from the surface. The baking soda will work to remove dirt, while the hydrogen peroxide will whiten any stains on the shoes. 

Step 4: Clean the soles with a damp, soapy sponge or a Magic Eraser.

Tip: If your white Vans need some extra TLC after the first pass, coat them in a thick layer of the baking soda mixture and leave them outside to dry in the sun. 

Once the mixture has hardened onto the shoes, clap them together to knock off any excess and then gently brush away the rest. Wipe your Vans down with a damp cloth and then set them to dry in a well-ventilated area but out of direct sunlight. 

You can also clean white Vans with certain kinds of toothpaste. If you wish to pursue this method, look for a white, non-gel toothpaste with baking soda in it, as this is the primary scrubbing agent.

Step 1: Squeeze some toothpaste onto an old toothbrush and apply it to the Vans in a circular scrubbing motion.

Step 2: Scrub the Vans until they’re completely coated in a thin layer of toothpaste.

Step 3: Let the toothpaste sit on the Vans for 10-15 minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth.

Step 4: Clean the soles with an old sponge or Magic Eraser, and wash the laces in warm, soapy water. 

Note: The toothpaste method works, but not as well as using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. This method is excellent for lightly soiled Vans or for targeting minor stains. 

man wearing white vans crossing the street
fuentesbabyy / Instagram

Small but mighty, the Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean works wonders on white Vans. It can be used to effectively remove mud, grass, and other finicky stains without damaging the shoes or exerting too much elbow grease. 

Step 1: Wet the Magic Eraser.

Step 2: Scrub the shoes with the Magic Eraser. This tool works super well to remove stains from the canvas surface plus scuff marks and dirt from the soles of the shoes.

Step 3: Leave the shoes to dry in a wel-ventilated space away from direct sunlight.

When it comes to how to clean white Vans, this is one of the easiest ways. It requires minimal materials and a short cleaning session. 

There are few solutions quite as powerful as bleach, so if you’re on a mission to make your white Vans brand new, this is one of the best ways to do it.

Step 1: Create a solution of one part bleach and five parts water. It’s essential to choose a bleach that’s ammonia free to keep from damaging your shoes. 

Step 2: Dip an old toothbrush in the solution and scrub it liberally all over your white Vans.

Step 3: Repeat as necessary until the Vans become white again.

Step 4: Wipe your Vans with a soft, damp cloth to remove any excess bleach and leave them to dry.

Tip: Avoid adding too much bleach to the surface of your Vans, as this has the potential to turn the canvas yellow.

Also, be sure to protect your clothing and hands from the bleach solution since a single drop of bleach can permanently stain clothing. 

There are a couple of different ways to clean white Vans with vinegar. This natural cleaning agent works wonders on white fabric and is especially noteworthy when it comes to cleaning suede or Old Skool Vans.

Step 1: Wet a soft cloth or toothbrush with white vinegar and gently scrub the surface of your white Vans.

Step 2: Let the vinegar sit on the shoes for 5-10 minutes. 

Step 3: Using a cloth dipped in warm, soapy water, wipe the surface of the Vans again to remove any lingering vinegar.

Step 4: Let the Vans dry in a well-ventilated area.

Alternatively, you can mix white vinegar with baking soda and apply it liberally to your white Vans before wiping them clean and leaving them to dry.

Tip: Put some white vinegar into a spray bottle and use this to wet your Vans with ease. 

If all else fails, or you hope to clean your white Vans with what you already have on hand, soapy water will do the trick for less serious stains.

Step 1: Fill a bowl with warm water and neutral dish soap.

Step 2: Dip a toothbrush or soft cloth into the soapy water and apply it generously across your white Vans, scrubbing in a circular motion to free dirt from the canvas.

Step 3: Wipe the Vans again, this time using only warm water to remove excess soap.

Step 4: Scrub the soles of your Vans using the same soapy water or with a Magic Eraser.

Step 5: Stuff your Vans with paper or newsprint to absorb lingering water, and leave the shoes to dry in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight. 

Tip: If the soapy water leaves a few stains behind, use baking soda or a Magic Eraser for some extra attention to problem areas. 

7. How to Clean White Vans in the Washer 

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “well, why wouldn’t I just throw my skate shoes in the washing machine?”

While you can technically wash Vans in a machine, the brand recommends that you stick to handwashing to preserve the state of the shoes. 

However, there’s a way to skip the dirt under your fingernails. You can always wash your Vans on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent and leave them to air dry in a well-ventilated space.

Just remember to remove the laces before chucking them in the wash. And if you hope to protect your washing machine a bit, throw in some old towels to act as a buffer between the shoes and the metal.  

Man standing in street
louis.km / Instagram

How To Clean White Leather Vans: Our Favorite Products

Leather can be much easier to clean than white canvas Vans, as dirt typically wipes right off the surface. But if you’re dealing with trickier stains or if the grime has infiltrated the cracks in your leather Vans, it’s best to use a dedicated shoe cleaner to prevent further damage to your kicks. Luckily, leather is a top sneaker trend for men, so there are plenty of solutions to aid in cleaning your shoes.

Vans Gel Cleaner

Vans make their own Gel Cleaner that’s designed to work on leather, among other materials. But for a more involved (and probably better) cleaning experience, try the following shoe kits that will revert your Vans to a brand new state.

Axel Arigato x Sneaker Lab Premium Cleaning Kit

Made from non-toxic, biodegradable materials, this kit includes a sneaker cleaner, protector, and odor mask, along with a bristled brush. It’s designed to work on all materials, namely leather and canvas, making it an ideal choice when it comes to how to clean white leather Vans. 

Oliver Cabell Shoe Cleaner

Designed specifically to whiten and brighten shoes, this Refresh Kit is your new best friend for cleaning leather Vans. In addition to the cleaning solution, the kit includes a shoe whitener and a brush that will give an instant boost to your white kicks.

FAQ

    • White Vans can turn yellow for a variety of reasons like sweat, dirt, and prolonged sun exposure after they’ve been dampened. This is why it’s ultra important to dry your white Vans in a well-ventilated place. Keeping them out of direct sunlight after cleaning is crucial to prevent oxidation—also known as unwanted yellow Vans.

      • You can bleach Vans to restore them to their natural white color, but it’s highly recommended to dilute the bleach with water. And don’t forget to use a product that’s ammonia and chlorine free to prevent damage to the shoes.

        • Keeping white Vans clean is an uphill battle, but spot cleaning them regularly helps. This will prevent excess dirt from building up, which is ultimately much more time and labor-intensive to clean. To spot clean effectively, an old toothbrush with some soapy water works wonders. You can also keep the soles white by scrubbing them with a damp sponge or Magic Eraser.