All the cleaning hacks to know for keeping your white trainers white

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Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images - Getty Images

There's nothing better than a pair of fresh white trainers, but no matter how carefully we tread - with one eye on the pavement at all times, on the look out for dreaded muddy spots - the undeniable truth is your pearly whites won't stay like that forever.

Inevitably, within weeks your white trainers start to look grey, grubby, and a lot less fresh. A bit of a letdown, when the rest of your gym outfit's on point, right?

When it comes to cleaning your white trainers, it's hard to know what's the 'right' way to do it. Should you chuck them in the washing machine? Is using bleach a complete no-no? These are all questions we've asked ourselves. Thankfully, after years of experience cleaning up many, many sneaks, we've learnt a thing or two.

For the lowdown on how to clean white trainers so you can keep your kicks trainers looking box fresh, look no further than WH's cleaning hacks.

How to clean white trainers

Canvas trainers

Canvas materials can be tricky, as dirt is easily picked up in the woven fibres. Thankfully, they're pretty easy to clean with a bit of TLC. To spruce up a grubby pair, grab a bowl of warm water and pour in a cupful of laundry detergent. Remove the laces from your trainers and place in a separate, smaller bowl of the same detergent solution. Next, with a clean sponge or a toothbrush, dip into the solution and work into the canvas of the shoes. Repeat until you've covered all of the shoe, then wipe off any excess foam with a clean cloth and leave to air dry (you might like to stuff them with newspaper to help soak up some of the moisture).

For any stains that won't budge after the last step, toothpaste (yes, really) is your best friend. Squeeze a generous helping onto a clean toothbrush and work into the area, then rinse with clean water and leave to dry.

Leather trainers

For fresh muddy marks, simply using a damp cloth and wiping the dirt from the white leather can do the trick. However, for your more lived in pairs you'll need a bit more than just a wet cloth or washing powder. For cleaning shiny leather (NOT suede), a bit of diluted household bleach works wonders. We've salvaged many a battered pair of trainers with this hack.

Whack on a pair gloves, pour a small amount of household bleach into a mug, then dilute it with water (you probably want a 70:30 ratio of water to bleach). Using a clean toothbrush, dip into the solution and scrub the leather until the dirt lifts. Rinse with clean water and pat dry. One thing to avoid when cleaning leather are wet wipes, as the lotions in the wipe can damage and stain the shoes.

For suede, we recommend investing in a good suede cleaner like this one, or if you're super organised, spray with a suede protector every couple of weeks to prevent any stains that are the toughest to remove (oil, we're looking at you). To clean, you can use a rubber brush specifically made for suede which'll remove any dust build-up and revive that gorge suede texture.

Photo credit: Liquidproof
Photo credit: Liquidproof

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Liquidproof Fabric Protector, £33.80, amazon.com

Finishing touches

If you want to go the extra mile in ensuring your beloved trainers are back to their brand-spanking-new shiny white state, then you can't forget the laces or the soles. Grubby laces can ruin all the hard work that's gone into freshening up your fave white sneaks, so remove them and soak in warm, soapy water - add a stain remover if they're looking particularly grim - then throw the laces in the washing machine. Afterwards, you can use the same soapy water and an old toothbrush and have away at the soles, getting those bristles into the grooves on the bottom.

Is it OK to put your trainers in the washing machine?

In short, if you really want to keep your trainers in the best shape it's safest to avoid doing so, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Footwear Developer at Nike, Myles O'Meally, advises checking the materials of your trainers first: "A simple mesh upper with a phylon midsole, like the Presto, are fine to put in the wash on a low temperature, as are Flyknits. Anything made from leathers and skins, or with a PU midsole (e.g. Air Max 95s), you should avoid putting in the washing machine as the moisture will affect the materials."

Myles also recommends taking out the sock liner out of the shoes before putting them in the wash, as this is the area that supports your sole during your workout and washing them can affect their shape. So, if you're thinking of throwing your marathon trainers in the drum, check the materials of your shoes first. Trust us, your joints will thank you!

Now you've got the 411 on how to keep your white trainers gleaming, check out some of WH's favourite white kicks available right now.

3 white trainers to add to your payday shopping list:

Photo credit: Net a Porter
Photo credit: Net a Porter

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Ultraboost 22 Heat.Rdy Primeknit, £165, Adidas

Photo credit: Nike
Photo credit: Nike

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ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2, £164.95, Nike

Photo credit: Net a Porter
Photo credit: Net a Porter

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Techloom Breeze Mesh trainers, £190, APL

Trainer shopping? Read the WH pick of best gym trainers and best running shoes for women.

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