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One of the greatest mysteries around the home is how to clean white shoes. Useful and practical as they may be, white shoes are notoriously hard to keep fresh and pristine after we take them out of the box. That’s why we searched high and low to find the best tips for cleaning white shoes, so that you can master this task once and for all. From bleach to baking soda to toothpaste, here’s a look at some of the best ways to keep your white shoes in great shape.

Remember: While it’s possible to figure out how to clean white shoes, it does take a little extra time and commitment — along with a few brilliant cleaning shortcuts. If you’re up for the challenge, the results are worth it. A little effort can go a long way!

The First Step to Cleaning White Shoes: Repellent

First things first: Prevention is key. Before you even put your new shoes on for the first time, experts recommend that you treat them immediately with a spray-on stain-and-water repellent. Repeat the spray-on process every few weeks to keep your shoes protected, no matter where you plan to wear them or what type of weather, spills, or grime you come in contact with during your day.

Another wise tip: Make spot-cleaning a habit. It may seem tedious, but regular spot-cleaning will lend a huge hand while you learn how to clean white shoes completely. To do so, wipe off any stains or scuffs as soon as you see them with a gentle cleaning agent or wipe. Otherwise, they might sink into the fabric, and your task of getting them perfectly white again will be that much more challenging.

What to Use to Clean White Shoes

One of the must-haves for cleaning your white shoes is an old toothbrush, which can help you target hard-to-reach smudges. Use it to scrub your white shoes (gently!) with just warm water and soap, and you’ll likely make a quick difference in the condition of your shoes. But if that doesn’t work, know that a variety of household items — such as baking soda, bleach, baby powder, or even toothpaste — can all potentially help you get your stained shoes white again.