How to clean white trainers without damaging them: a 5 step guide

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From using a soft brush to drying at room temperature – these are the simple ways to clean your trainers, without ruining them. 

Putting on a pair of box-fresh trainers will make you feel ready to take on any challenge, in serious style. The first step to white trainer ownership (see what we did there?) is arguably the hardest: which pair to choose? From chunky and retro trainers, to sleek and simple – the world really is your oyster when it comes to bright kicks. Thankfully, Stylist has done the hard work for you with this guide to the best white trainers to shop now. The next logical thought is how on earth you’ll keep them looking their best.

We’re all-for a more sustainable fashion world, so that’s why we want you to know more about how to reuse, recycle and relove your old trainers. So here’s the 5 steps to cleaning your kicks.

1. Remove dried on dirt from your trainers

It may sound like a no-brainer, but getting the old dirt off your kicks is the first step to a deep clean. Tap them on a wall outside to loosen any mud that’s stuck on. Then, use a dry, soft-bristled brush (or old toothbrush) to gently clean the body of the trainers. For the sole, use an old butter knife (with rounded edges) to get into the thread and remove stuck in mud. 

2. Soak the trainer laces 

Once you’ve removed the dried on dirt, it’s time to remove the laces. Yes, you could just replace with a new pair but there’s no need when they’re easily cleaned. Mix up a solution of your everyday laundry detergent with a cup of warm water, or if they’re super dirty then mix the water with Vanish stain remover, and soak for a couple of hours. 

Once they’ve had a dip, remove, scrub gently, rinse and then lay out flat on a cloth/towel to dry at room temperature. 

3. Clean trainers with a gentle solution

The state of your trainers will depend on what cleaning solution you should use from options A or B.

A) Water and washing up liquid: If they just need a freshen up then use warm water and washing up liquid. Dip a soft e-cloth (below) into the solution and rub gently in circular motions. 

B) Water and bleach: Most people are unsure if you can use bleach on trainers, the answer is you can IF you dilute first. If they’re pretty grimy then use one part bleach to five parts warm water and use the same technique as above. If a cloth still doesn’t work, opt for the old toothbrush trick.

Rinse and repeat as needed and use a clean, dry e-cloth to pat dry. 

4. Scrub the soles of the trainers

You may have got the dried dirt off but now it’s time to make the soles white once again. Use a solution of hot water and washing up liquid or detergent with a bristle brush and scrub. 

Once you’ve finished with the soles, spray the insoles with Scholl fresh step spray (below) to banish sweaty odours. 

5. Dry and spray

The final step is to leave to dry. Stuff the trainers with tissue paper or kitchen roll to soak up any excess moisture. Note: this will also help them to keep their shape. Never dry on the radiator or tumble dry as this can damage the trainer, instead opt to air-dry at room temperature overnight. 

Once they’re completely dry, spray with a protector to help reduce future stains and scuffs. 

Always store in a cool, dark place when you’re not wearing them to stop colours from fading.  

We’re all for quick cleaning methods that won’t break the bank, and these are the tried and tested options everyone can try at home.

Say hello to your new fresh kicks. 

Opening image: Getty

Other images: courtesy of brands

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