How to keep white trainers fresh

Ah, white trainers: the ultimate style staple in everyone’s wardrobe. They go with everything. But, let’s face it, they’re always one rainy day / coffee spillage / pavement scuff away from looking grubbier than the dirty shirts in a washing powder advert. So how do we keep them box-fresh? We’ve rounded up some of the best hacks for protecting, cleaning and storing them to keep them in tip top condition. White nail polish at the ready (yes, really!)...

Image credits: The Frugality, Song of Style, Happily Grey, Mija Mija

Pre-treat with a water or stain repellant

Pop your trainers on an old towel and spray them with a stain and water repellent spray. For canvas shoes, use Scotchguard. For premium leather or suede, use Jason Markk repel. A great all-round protector spray that has cult-status is Crep Protect, and will only set you back £10. ‘It adds a hydrophobic barrier (i.e. it repels water) over the top of the shoe to prevent any stains,’ says Jason Black, Founder of Crep Protect. Top tip: A one-time spray isn't enough. Try to get in the habit of spraying your trainers every few weeks.

Spot-clean, don’t machine wash

A machine wash can turn perfectly white trainers slightly yellow and melt the glue bonds (not a good look!), plus the rough and tumble of the spin can rip or tear the fabric. So step away from the washing machine! Here's how to spot-clean instead:

  • Get rid of any loose dirt by rubbing with a dry cloth
  • Wet a toothbrush in lukewarm water and a little laundry detergent or shoe cleanser, then start scrubbing in a circular motion
  • If you're trainers are leather, it's better to use a cleansing cream and a paper towel
  • If you're trainers are suede, you need to use a soft, suede brush – harsh bristles will make the fabric pill up
  • If you're trainers have different coloured panels, it's best to scrub each section individually so the colours don't bleed into each other
  • Pat your trainers dry with a microfibre cloth. For canvas trainers, dab and twist with the towel to help lift the stain and dry the fabric

Use trainer wipes to spot-clean on the go

Just like stains on clothes, it helps to tackle dirt before it sets into the fabric of the trainer. Keep baby wipes handy so you can tackle stains on the go. We like Crep Protect’s Shoe Cleaning Wipes, which work on all trainer fabrics.

Use these cult shoe cleaners on tough stains

For tougher stains, you need something more heavy duty. Jason Markk’s Premium Shoe Cleaning Kit is a cult favourite among sneakerheads: it's designed to be used on everything from suede to nubuck. An eight-ounce bottle will set you back £15.95, but will clean up to 200 pairs of shoes.

Alternatively, you can use melamine foam, otherwise known as Magic Erasers - they can basically remove any kind of stain on the planet, and are pretty great at keeping your soles whites than white.

If you don't have any shoe cleaning products to hand, and you dropped a big greasy chip on your perfectly pristine trainers, use a gentle shampoo instead: apply the shampoo to a toothbrush or rag with warm water and gentle wipe at the oil smudge. It should come right out!

Dry with paper towels, AWAY from the radiator

Once you’ve scrubbed up your shoes, stuff them with paper towels (this will speed up the drying process) and leave them to dry naturally. Whatever you do, do not dry them on or near the radiator – the heat will weaken the glue that holds the shoe together.

Give your laces a refresh

Never underestimate the difference a pair of white laces can make: throw your manky ones in the washing machine (but know that a spin wash will stiffen them up). If you want to clean your laces, but keep them soft, soak them in warm water and a little laundry detergent, swirl around and then rinse out. Repeat if necessary.

Store indoors to avoid sun exposure

It's important to store your shoes indoors, out of direct sunlight. The UV exposure can lead to fading, which takes them from bright white to pasty yellow. So never let your trainers air out in the sun and always store them in a cool, dark place.

Cover scratches with white nail polish

Yep, it's that simple: if you see a little scratch on your otherwise pristine trainers, grab a bottle of white nail polish and get to touching up. It works wonders.

Beat the pong with fabric sheets

Keep your shoes box-fresh by leaving dryer sheets in them overnight. The fabric sheets settle into the shoe, drawing out moisture and deodorising them, so in the morning that cheesy pong has gone and they smell like a sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer.

Another way to fight the foot funk? Take the insoles out, let them dry out, then treat with a deodorising spray - sneakerheads swear by retaW’s sneaker spray.

Wrap them in shower caps when travelling

If you're travelling, pop your trainers inside the shower caps you get given I hotels to stop then getting grubby in your suitcase. You don't want your muddy boots scuffing them up!

Our favourite all-white trainers, and the best cleaning products to keep them box-fresh...

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