The Best Way To Keep Your White Shoes In Like-New Condition

White shoes and sneakers are perennially in style, but they admittedly look best when they're straight out of the box, before you get a chance to stain or scuff them. Luckily, there are plenty of easy solutions to help your white shoes look brand new, even if you've had them for years.

Before getting started, it's important to establish what type of material your shoes are made from. If you're unsure, it may be best to bring them to a professional instead of attempting DIY cleaning solutions. Joe Rocco of Jim's Shoe Repair says, "Materials such as leather, suede, canvas can often be cleaned using retail products off the shelves, but if customers do not have the knowledge, they can ruin their shoes, sneakers," per NBC News. Before giving a new cleaning method a whirl, it's always best to try it out in a small inconspicuous area, so that if the material is negatively impacted, your precious kicks won't be ruined.

Use a shoe protectant

The first step in keeping your white shoes looking their best should take place before you even wear them. Invest in a high-quality shoe protectant that's designed for white shoes or sneakers and apply it before wearing the shoes outdoors. Johnny Fajardo of Sneaker LAB tells Zappos, "The spray forms an invisible layer that protects them from dirt, stains, and liquids." 

Before choosing a product, make sure it's formulated for the specific material that your shoes are made from. Protectants designed for canvas, for example, may not work for leather or suede shoes. While instructions may vary from product to product, it's generally best to spray from a distance of at least 6 inches, according to Vessi Footwear. Spray the product evenly over the shoe's surface in the evening and allow them to dry overnight. Fajardo recommends reapplying the spray every two weeks — or after every cleaning — for the best results.

Try toothpaste

When it comes to spot cleaning white shoes and sneakers, Srajan Mishra of TSI Apparel recommends a solution that involves tools and ingredients you most likely already have in your house. The strategy only requires three things: toothpaste, a toothbrush, and sugar. "Use a toothbrush and toothpaste and just scrub the surface of the sneaker properly," he explains to Insider. "Mix a little sugar with the toothpaste to be more effective while scrubbing out the dirtier corners." It's best to use a toothbrush with soft bristles that will be gentler on the shoe's material, so an old one that's been used for a few months is a perfect choice.

For an even more intensive cleaning, Dave Bowden of Irreverent Gent recommends whitening toothpaste, which should have the same result on your shoes as it does on your teeth. "Using an [old] toothbrush or your finger, dab on a little [whitening] toothpaste, rub it into the trouble spot, then remove it using a cleaning wipe," he shares.

Use Magic Erasers

Here's another DIY solution that might already be sitting with your stock of cleaning supplies. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (or melamine sponges) work like, well ... magic when it comes to a number of household cleaning tasks. But did you know that they're also a popular tool when it comes to cleaning white shoes (via Reader's Digest)? Mr. Clean is particularly useful for removing scuffs and stains from the rubber soles of sneakers. The Mr. Clean website recommends using the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Durable, since it's less likely to tear than the original Magic Eraser.

Just like when using a Magic Eraser for cleaning around the house, it's important to dampen it with tap water before use. Then, scrub the affected area in circular motions until you notice the stains or scuffs disappear. While Magic Erasers are ideal for cleaning rubber shoe soles, they also work well on leather uppers.

Skip the washing machine

Since many popular styles of white shoes are made from canvas, it can be tempting to throw them in the laundry and let your washing machine do the work. Unfortunately, however, experts typically caution against machine-washing shoes — no matter what they're made of — because it might damage the material. Marc Scepi of SNKR Project shares with Insider, "Never wash [white sneakers] in a washing machine. It will destroy the cement binding and, in some cases, turn your shoes yellow."

Charlotte Anderson of Manchester Cleaner suggested the following canvas cleaning formula: "Mix 1/4 cup laundry detergent and 2 cups warm water into a large bowl. Dip a brush into the solution and scrub the canvas part of both sides of your shoes in circular motions. Rinse and repeat until the canvas is clean." She added that if you're happy with the way the shoes turned out, do a deep rinse with cool water and leave them out to dry.

Store them properly

Some of us have pretty substantial footwear collections and aren't wearing the same pairs of shoes on the regular. To that end, in order to keep white shoes in top shape, it's essential to consider how to store them. "You may not notice it, but there's microscopic dust and dirt floating around everywhere, especially in enclosed spaces like closets," Sneaker LAB's Johnny Fajardo explains to Zappos. "Over time, shoe materials — especially knit, suede, and mesh — collect these dust particles, which eventually affect the overall look of your sneakers."

Fajardo recommends storing shoes in their original boxes or in dust bags when they're not in use. Make sure shoes are thoroughly cleaned before they're put away for long-term storage. Depending on where shoes are stored, they may benefit from being filled with acid-free paper to absorb any moisture that may be in the space, according to Life Storage. It's also best to avoid storing any shoes in damp areas like basements and garages.