How to clean white trainers that’ve turned brown 

Press factory reset your teenager's once white, now mushroom-grey, trainers

Modderige witte sneakers op een blauwe betegelde achtergrond

Your partner was so excited about getting a bright white pair of trainers. Until that dog poo appeared under their foot and that muddy puddle swallowed up their entire shoe.  

Don’t let any brown stuff ruin that new shoe feeling for them! Here’s how to clean trainers, with some of the best ways to clean trainers that’ve got all gross. 

How to clean white trainers: regular care tips

OK, we don’t all step in dog poo or step straight into a puddle every day (unless you’re really unlucky), so here are the best ways to clean trainers daily. It’s worth trying to: 

  • Scrape off dirt or mud whenever you see it.
  • Wipe down your trainers after use with an absorbent paper towel.
  • Store them tidily – don’t let your housemate’s quaggy walking boots smear dirt all over those white trainers whilst they’re in the shoe rack/cupboard.

Following regular care tips like these will help keep shoes whiter for longer, but sometimes cleaning white trainers is a slightly bigger job. 

How to clean trainers with soap and water

Most of the time, soap and water will be enough to clean your white trainers – especially if they’re not caked in mud or dirt. You should: 

  1. Clear off the excess dirt. 
  2. If your laces are heavily stained, remove them and soak them in a bowl of hot water. 
  3. Squirt some liquid detergent into warm water and mix it up. 
  4. Dip an old toothbrush (make sure it’s an old one – no one wants white shoes at the expense of brown teeth) in the bubbles and gently scrub at your shoes. Work in small sections and scrub in a circular motion for the best results.  
  5. Wipe away any remaining residue and then let your trainers dry naturally.  

Cleaning white trainers with baking soda and vinegar

A baking soda and white vinegar mix is another choice if that stain is a bit hardier. And it works really well on canvas. As ever, always try your method on a small, discrete area to avoid adding a new, even bigger stain on top if it reacts badly! Here’s how to use it: 

  1. Knock and scrub away any excess dirt with a bit of kitchen paper.  
  2. Mix equal amounts of baking soda and white vinegar in a tiny bit of warm water until a paste is formed. 
  3. Work the paste onto your trainers (making sure to pay extra attention to the stained bits).  
  4. Leave the mix for around two to three hours, so it can get to work breaking down the grime.  
  5. Stare at your shoes for two to three hours. Or, you know, go and do other stuff. 
  6. Once the paste has completely dried, wipe off the residue with a paper towel to reveal some clean, fresh-looking trainers. 

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How to clean white trainers with toothpaste

But sometimes, you’re cleaning white leather trainers, and you don’t have any baking soda or white vinegar to hand. Turns out, your standard white toothpaste can deal with heavy scuffs or stains. After clearing off as much grime as you can, try the following method: 

  1. Remove your laces and soak them in soapy water – this’ll make it much easier to clean the rest of each shoe. 
  2. Take a damp piece of kitchen paper and rub it over your trainers – try not to use too much water as this could over-saturate the leather. 
  3. Dab white toothpaste on stains and scuffs and rub it into the leather.  
  4. Use an old, soft toothbrush to gently scrub at the marks further. 
  5. Wipe the toothpaste away with a damp kitchen towel and set your trainers aside to dry.  
  6. Once they’re dry, you can use a fresh kitchen towel to buff up your trainers. 


Plenty The Original One is perfect for cleaning white leather trainers. These super-absorbent kitchen towels are strong enough to dampen and use for wiping without falling apart. They’re also great for polishing small scuffs and giving your trainers that final buff.

You might think getting down on one knee is romantic. But true romance is getting down on one knee and wiping some mud off your partner’s brand-new white trainers, so they stay looking fresh. Oh, and don’t forget to freshen them up if whatever they stood in smelled as bad as it looked!

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