How to Clean White Vans

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
Dirty white Vans
Dirty white Vans are not cool. Get yours sparkly white in a few simple steps. Ritesh_Thakur/Shutterstock

Key Takeaways

  • Prevent white Vans from getting extremely dirty by using a shoe fabric protector spray and shoe brush. Clean stains promptly to avoid setting.
  • For cleaning, you can use a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide applied with a brush for canvas Vans, or a suede brush and leather conditioner for suede and leather Vans.
  • Additionally, washing machine cleaning is an option for canvas Vans. Use cold water and the gentle cycle, then let them air-dry. But avoid this method for suede or leather Vans.

The whole world seems like it's stacked against white sneakers, what with all the mud, dirt, rain and such everywhere you go. White shoes, like white Vans, can seem particularly daunting to keep clean, thanks to their naturally porous surface.

However, a few tricks and a little extra effort are all you need to remove stubborn stains from your favorite white Vans shoes and return them to their former glory.



How to Keep Your Vans Clean

First, it's worth it to note that the best offense is a good defense. In other words, don't let white shoes get extremely dirty to begin with, and your job will be a lot easier.

Consider investing in a shoe fabric protector spray and shoe brush. Then apply the product per the directions immediately to keep white canvas Vans looking their best. Don't forget to reapply, as directed!


Then, if your white Vans do manage to get dirty, clean them in a timely fashion. Stains that have time to set are much more difficult to remove. You can also buy a suede brush and leather conditioner to clean suede Vans and leather Vans.

If it's already too late for the preventive approach, there are plenty of hacks to get those sneakers bright white once more. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to clean white Vans.


How to Quick Clean White Vans

If your white Vans are only in need of a minor facelift, try this rapid cleaning option first.

  1. Knock any excess dirt or mud off the shoes before beginning.
  2. Mix up some dishwashing liquid with warm water. Dip a soft toothbrush into the mixture, then gently rub the shoes. If you don't have an old toothbrush you can use a soft bristled brush.
  3. Lastly, wipe the shoe surfaces down with a clean wet cloth.
  4. Let the shoes air dry in direct sunlight.


How to Deep Clean White Vans

If your white Vans are more, shall we say, well-loved, a little extra oomph might be necessary. Here's how to deep clean those white canvas sneaks:

  1. Gently brush off any mud or excess dirt with a damp cloth.
  2. Take insoles out and remove laces. Place the laces in warm soapy water and let them soak. Gently scrub the laces if needed to remove stains. You can clean the insoles with a shoe brush and a cleaning solution of baking soda and laundry detergent if needed.
  3. You can use a stain remover like the Clorox Bleach Pen to remove small problem areas on canvas Vans. Let it soak in for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Hand-wash canvas Vans (not leather Vans) using a bit of laundry detergent mixed with warm water.
  5. Lastly, wrap up the shoes in a clean, dry towel. Press excess water out, per the Vans website, then air dry in direct sunlight.


How to Machine Wash White Vans

White Vans
Your white Vans sneakers probably won't look this good unless they're fresh out of the box, but at least they'll be cool enough for you to hop back on your skateboard. dnaveh/Shutterstock

Full disclosure time: Vans doesn't recommend you machine wash its canvas or leather shoes, as it could damage them. However, plenty of people do get their canvas shoes clean in the washing machine, to great results. So, proceed at your own risk!

Get the best result, however, by doing a little front end work involving some common household ingredients.


First, gather the tools you'll need: laundry detergent, baking soda and an old toothbrush or soft bristled brush. Then, clean as follows:

  1. Mix 1 part of baking soda with 1.5 parts of detergent into a thin paste.
  2. Using the old toothbrush or shoe brush, gently scrub the canvas material with the cleaning solution.
  3. Rinse the white Vans thoroughly in the sink with warm water.
  4. Remove inner soles and laces, then place the white canvas Vans in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. Launder with a few towels to keep the machine balanced.
  5. Air dry, then replace soles and shoelaces (wash laces as well in a mesh bag).


How to Clean White Vans With Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Two more natural cleaning agents that are probably just lying around your house are key ingredients to help clean up white Vans.

  1. Mix 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
  2. Dip a toothbrush or small scrub brush in the cleaning solution, then gently rub the cotton canvas shoes.
  3. Allow the baking soda mixture to soak in for at least 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water and air dry in direct sunlight.

Once you clean white Vans and they're dry, it's time to take those sparkling shoes back out on the town. Whether on foot or skateboard is entirely up to you.


Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my white Vans to keep them looking new?
Regular cleaning after each wear is recommended to prevent stains from setting, with a deeper clean as needed depending on usage and exposure to dirt.
Can I use bleach to clean my white Vans?
It's not recommended to use bleach on white Vans, as it can damage the fabric. Instead, use a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for safe cleaning.