There is no better feeling than whipping out a pair of clean white vans to wear on a warm sunny day. But inevitably, as with anything white, they get dirty and scuffed. Cleaning shoes generally takes some time, and it doesn’t go right. We can find ourselves frustrated looking up at the sky and asking, “how can I get my white Vans white again?”
But there is no need to feel this way because this is your ultimate guide. With different tips and tricks, we will get your vans back to the pearly white you bought them as.
What is the Best Way To Clean White Vans?
Whether you are wondering how to clean white van slip-ons or any other of their shoe lines we can look at some of these tried and true methods. Some of the cleaning tips are going to use natural and household items. But of course, we will address classic questions concerning bleach and store-bought products.
How Do You Clean Vans Without Ruining Them?
Before we get started let’s get a few things out of the way that we can avoid to simplify the process going forward.
- Not all vans are treated the same. Vans have different materials which means washing them differently is a good idea. Leather and canvas will stain differently and that’s why approaching each shoe with care is always a good idea.
- Can you put vans in the washer? Technically yes. But because Vans have different shoe materials, it’s worth not throwing them in the washer. Some shoe labels may say it’s OK, but they still can get damaged. Even if you put them in a mesh bag, you risk shrinking the shoes or letting them deform.
- We can always pass on strong chemicals that we find at the store. While some methods may work, most of the household items we carry can be used and treated equally as good. Having said that, we will review the safe ways to use products like bleach.
Note: If you are going to throw your vans in the washer do throw them with other whites to protect them from bouncing around too much. Wash on cold, so you don’t worry about them shrinking. And when it comes to drying them let them air dry, so you also don’t go down a shoe size or find your material ruined.
How To Clean White Vans At Home
The best way to clean your vans is to treat them at home. It is not going to be a one-and-done process. Chances are you are going to have to clean your vans regularly. And in case they get filthy, spot treatment is never a bad idea.
You can clean canvas Vans with the following:
- Baking soda
- Mild Detergent
Using Baking Soda and Mild Detergent
If you want to know how to clean your vans without them turning yellow, baking soda is one of the best approaches. The process is simple. You will need a few items to make a paste and cleaning kit.
You can simply mix together one tablespoon of baking soda with ½ tablespoon of water and a little bit of mild detergent. Mixing this will create a fairly thick paste and is easy to lather on.
The best way to do this is to use a toothbrush. You can take canvas material vans and loosen any dirt already stuck on the outside with the toothbrush before applying any paste.
After the initial wipe down, try this:
- Dab the paste on the shoes with a toothbrush and scrub lightly. It’s important not to be tooth abrasive regardless of the canvas being a more rigid material.
- After light scrubbing, leave the paste on to soak for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the paste to continue to soak into the affected areas.
- Take a damp, non-shedding towel, and wipe away the paste. The stains should come out with wiping away and leave your shoes looking white again.
While bleach is not natural, it is a common household item because it does get the job done. We recommend that you use bleach for just the white strip on your vans. When other colors are involved, this can get tricky.
- First, make a safe space to work in. Put a towel over a flat surface, so the bleach does not spill. It’s never a bad idea to double up on towels, either.
- If the shoe has a white strip and is colored, use masking tape to cover the colors thoroughly. Don’t worry about the masking tape if your shoes are all white.
- Mix one part bleach with four parts water into a bowl or small cup. Take a toothbrush and scrub the product onto the white parts only.
- Rinse the toothbrush with water until it is free of bleach. Then go back and continue scrubbing until the stains are out.
Tip: When you go straight for the bleach to apply on your vans (no suede or velvet materials), it can turn your shoes yellow! You can substitute the bleach for other ingredients and follow the same instructions.
Why does bleach turn my shoes yellow?
The opposite result happens when bleach gets left on for too long, or the mix you use is not diluted correctly. You ended up getting yellow stains on your shoes after getting the dirt off. These yellow stains are tricky to get off. If this happens, you’ll need to soak them in a different solution to minimize the yellow.
- Salt and hot water scrub
- Cream of Tartar
- Laundry detergent and white vinegar
Even if you want to know how to clean vans with bleach, it’s best to avoid it in the first place. That’s why we can follow the steps above with a different solution that won’t turn our Vans yellow.
You can use the following:
- Lemon juice
- Rubbing alcohol or acetone
- White vinegar
Simply fill the cup with one of the following and use your toothbrush to clean your product instead of using bleach.
Using Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Baking soda will pop up repeatedly because it is one of the most effective ways to address stains. Using hydrogen peroxide, however, entails a few steps slightly different than the above methods.
- Mix together two parts of baking soda with one part of hydrogen peroxide in a small cup or bowl.
- Put the paste on your toothbrush and scrub in circular motions to get the dirt off. Afterward, keep applying the paste without scrubbing it off. You want to coat them thoroughly as long as they are entirely white.
- Leave the shoes in the sun for the paste to dry and harden. After the paste is dry, clap your shoes together, breaking the paste off.
- Using a damp cloth, gently wipe down the remainder of the paste and let the shoes air dry outside in dry conditions. Extremely humid weather will not let them dry.
How To Clean Vans Without Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and a harsh chemical used to get up stains. Not everyone loves to use these types of chemicals because of their nature. That’s why you can use different methods listed above, such as white vinegar, baking soda, mild detergent, and others, first to try and get the job done. As mentioned, some bleach products actually have the ability to turn your shoes yellow, so it’s not always the most effective choice anyways.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have a few different ways to treat white vans, you may feel like you’ve got it down. But as with anything, there are always questions that pop up. This section is dedicated to the most Frequently Asked Questions to solve your issues.
How to clean white van high tops?
Cleaning your high-tops will not be much different than cleaning your slip-ons. The critical thing to remember here is to look at the material rather than the shoe’s shape. Suede, velvet, and canvas need to be treated differently. Suede and velvet shoes are going to have a premade special cleaner that you can buy at stores to keep the material safe.
Leather vans are going to have a different aftercare process. Usually, a cleaning product sets the shoe after it’s been cleaned. This is a protectant to keep the shoes from getting scuffed or dirty.
How to clean the inside of my vans?
Cleaning the inside of your vans is also different than approaching the outside. Here are some tips on cleaning the inner part of the shoe.
Go back to the mix between baking soda and mild detergent. You can create this mix and put the paste on the inside of your shoe with a toothbrush. Leave the paste on the inside of your shoes for 15 minutes minimum. Afterward, you can rinse the inside of your shoes with water and leave them outside with paper towels stuffed inside them to dry.
How to clean my vans with toilet paper?
Toilet paper is not the first thing that comes to mind when cleaning shoes or anything really. It breaks down quickly and can make more of a mess than when you started the project. But when it comes to cleaning your vans, there is a trick that you can use.
- Thoroughly scrub your shoes with dishwashing liquid. A toothbrush is still the best tool you can use to do this.
- After wrapping your shoes in toilet paper as if you were trying to make them look like a mummy. Set them out to dry outside.
The idea is that the toilet paper will absorb the stains and you should be able to see it on the toilet paper. It’s an easy hack that doesn’t take long to try out.
Tricks of the Trade
Vans are a staple of any person’s wardrobe. They are comfortable and go with just about everything when they are white. But white shoes never stay as white as they were when first purchased. Yet we love them anyway. That’s why it is important to find the right tricks to get them back to their original state, even if it is treating just that tiny white stripe.
But it’s natural for us to think store-bought products are the way to go. Following their instructions on the back of the product may work, but we may also see that our shoes are left in worse condition than when we started cleaning them. Opt for using products we can find around the house and these instructions.
We may just find ourselves free of harsh chemicals and with squeaky clean shoes in no time.