The 1980s are back in full force and white shoes and trainers have made a triumphant return. These versatile shoes complement almost any outfit and have become an absolute staple for practically everyone.
Nevertheless, there is one glaring problem with the white shoe and we’ve all experienced it. The yellow stains.
However, this catastrophe is actually much easier to solve then you’d think! Here are 6 amazing tricks for getting yellow stains out of your favourite white shoes using everyday objects you’ve probably got at home.
- How did this happen?
- Let’s Get Started and Choose a Miracle Method
- Method 1 – Diluted Bleach
- Method 2 – Baking Soda and White Vinegar
- Method 3 – Toothpaste
- Method 4 – Dish Soap and Warm Water
- Method 5 – Magic Erasers
- Method 6 – What about machine washing?
- Go the Extra Mile Before You Strut Your Stuff
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
How did this happen?
Before we dive into the miracle methods for removing those horrible yellow stains, lets quickly address the 3 main causes of staining on white shoes over time so that we can avoid this conundrum in the future.
Overexposure to Sunlight
Sunlight is often the main culprit of yellowing stains on your perfect shoes. Over time, a chemical reaction occurs due to the natural process of oxidisation as they are exposed to the air and sunlight.
Accumulated Dirt and Stains
Now, these are your favourite pairs of shoes, so obviously you will be wearing them all the time! Unfortunately, this means that they hardly get a break.
As we sweat throughout the day, or stain them through external accidents, the muck can build up to the point where even when you wash them, the stains still cling on.
Thus, you need to clean that muck ASAP!
Harsh Cleaning Solutions
It is important to never use harsh chemicals to clean your shoes, no matter how tempting! They can be the downfall of your favourite pair, causing chemical burns and discolouration.
Additionally, some chemicals will stick to your shoe even after they’re rinsed and dried, making it even more likely that the sun will turn your shoes yellow.
Let’s Get Started and Choose a Miracle Method
The first step in removing the stains from any white shoe is to take out the shoelaces and remove any loose dirt. Knock the bottoms together (outside) before using a dry, soft bristled brush to remove any lingering dirt.
Now for perhaps the most important step: deciding which method to use. This decision will depend on two main things; what material are your shoes made of and how disastrous is the stain you’re up against?
Mesh is a soft fabric so excessive scrubbing, or the use of bleach can damage them. Therefore, using mild dish soap and warm water (method 4) is your best bet.
For canvas and other fabric trainers, baking soda and white vinegar (method 2) should give you the best results. For leather trainers, the toothpaste method (method 3) is the safest and surest technique.
If the stain you’re dealing with is particularly tough, diluted bleach (method 1) might be the most effective method for you. Baking soda and white vinegar is for middle ground stains and dish soap and warm water is for the softer ones.
Method 1 – Diluted Bleach
This method is effective against even the toughest stains and can be a saviour in dire times.
However, it is an incredibly toxic and potentially harmful saviour so make sure to wear gloves and to do it in a well-ventilated room! This is an absolute must; no matter how excited you are to get those lovely sneakers shining again, don’t skimp on safety!
You will need:
- Create a solution of one-part bleach and five parts water. If you use more bleach than this, you’ll turn the shoes even more yellow!
- Dip a toothbrush into the solution and scrub it into the shoes in circular motions.
- Rinse the toothbrush and use it to scrub the stains until they’ve disappeared.
- Once finished, wet a cloth in warm water to wipe away the solution.
- Leave the shoes to dry for five to six hours in a well-ventilated room.
Method 2 – Baking Soda and White Vinegar
This one is a timeless classic and an absolute go-to for anyone who’s clashed heads with an annoying stain before.
You will need:
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with one tablespoon of baking soda. This will form a paste.
- Use a toothbrush to apply this paste to the shoes by rubbing in circular motions before leaving them for a few hours.
- Once the paste has dried and hardened, use a dry brush to remove it from the shoe.
- Use a soft cloth or a paper towel to wipe off any excess paste.
- Finally, rinse with warm water and leave the shoes to air dry.
Method 3 – Toothpaste
When I said everyday household objects earlier, I was not joking.
Toothpaste contains peroxide which can be a useful bleaching agent for removing yellow stains from your favourite shoes and clothes. Remember not to use coloured or gel toothpastes as these could stain your trainers!
You will need:
- Toothpaste (not coloured or gel)
- Apply some toothpaste to a toothbrush and then start rubbing it into your shoes in a circular motion. Try to brush as vigorously as you can without damaging the material of the shoes (or yourself for that matter!)
- Apply to the entire shoe but give extra attention to heavy stains.
- Leave to dry for 15-20 minutes before wiping away with a soft, damp towel/cloth.
- Repeat the process if necessary.
Method 4 – Dish Soap and Warm Water
This method is a no brainer and chances are you’ve tried this one already.
However, it does require some patience and an efficient technique to pull off properly. Follow the instructions below to nail the dish soap and warm water trick.
You will need:
- Dish soap
- Add one or two teaspoons of dish soap to one cup (240 ml) of warm water.
- Stir the solution until the dish soap has dissolved. The water should appear soapy but still clear.
- Dip a cloth or an old toothbrush into the mixture and gently scrub the stain in circular motions.
- Once the stain appears to be gone and the shoe looks clean and even in colour, wipe off any excess water before leaving the shoe to air dry for a couple of hours.
Method 5 – Magic Erasers
This one is a bit of a cheat and you’re less likely to have one of these knocking about at home. Nonetheless, when the going gets tough, you’ve got to bring out the big guns.
Magic erasers are Melamine foam, which is a very useful and adaptable cleaning tool. This method is better for sturdier shoes as the rough texture can cause damage.
Simply add some water to the foam so that it is damp and then rub the stain until it vanishes.
Method 6 – What about machine washing?
What if none of the previous miracle tricks have worked? Are you doomed to walk around town in dingy yellow trainers?
Maybe in desperation you’ve thought about chucking them in the washing machine and just seeing what happens. Overall if you want your shoes to remain in tip top shape then the best bet is to avoid doing this.
However, if your shoes are made of a simple mesh upper with a phylon midsole you are safe to try putting them in the wash on a low temperature with gentle detergent on a gentle cycle.
Remember to take out the sock liner and laces out beforehand as washing them can affect their shape. Once the wash has finished, air dry the shoes.
Anything made from leather, or anything with a PU (Polyurethane) midsole should not be put in the wash!
Go the Extra Mile Before You Strut Your Stuff
You can’t forget about those laces!
No matter how much work you’ve put in to getting your shoes looking fresh and brand spanking new, grimy laces are going to ruin the whole look. All you have to do is soak the laces in warm soapy water before throwing them into a washing machine.
Or, if the stains are strong, fill a bowl with warm water and add bleach (wear gloves and do this in a well-ventilated room). Soak the laces for five minutes before rinsing them with water and a detergent and leaving them to air-dry.
There you have it!
Those yellow stains are a thing of the past and you are now armed with the knowledge of how to avoid them in the future. Now you can strut your stuff in your newly white shoes with confidence.
Take those bad boys out on the town and show them off to everyone as if it was the first time you’d taken them out of the box.
Last update on 2022-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API