5 Ways to Clean Your Trainers – A Beginner’s Guide

Trainers are a wardrobe staple that can add a modern touch to just about any outfit. However, if you want to make a good impression, then you need to keep them clean. Day-to-day wear can wreak havoc on your trainers so if you wear yours often, there is a high chance that you will need to give them a clean at some point. Knowing how to wash trainers is a valuable skill that can prolong the life of your footwear while making sure you always look your best.

But what is the best way to clean your favorite shoes and can you put trainers in the washing machine or is there a better solution? Let’s discover 5 ways to clean your trainers so you can enjoy that box-fresh look every single day.

How to clean white trainers

On the whole, white trainers are a lot easier to clean than you might think. Furthermore, trainers made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are hard wearing and can survive most cleaning processes. On the other hand, shoes that are made from animal products like leather and suede can be delicate and need to be treated more carefully.

Can you wash trainers in the washing machine?

Trainers made from synthetic materials are usually safe to put in the washing machine. If in doubt, check the care label on your shoes and always follow the instructions. Before washing your trainers, remove any laces and then place your sneakers and the laces in a mesh bag. If you do decide to clean white shoes in the washing machine do not be tempted to put them in your tumble dryer afterward. Tumble drying your trainers can distort their shape and cause the rubber soles to crack and warp. Instead, leave your shoes somewhere cool and dark to air dry.

Different types of white trainers (and how best to clean them)


Use a soft toothbrush to remove any obvious dirt or stains from mesh shoes. Remove any laces then put both the laces and your shoes in the washing machine in a laundry bag with some liquid detergent. Try to avoid using cleaning products containing bleach as this can discolor any synthetic fibers.


Regular laundry detergent mixed with warm water is the perfect solution for cleaning canvas materials. Test a small amount of detergent on an inconspicuous area first by dabbing with a damp cloth to make sure it will not damage your trainers. Then, once both shoes have been cleaned all over, rinse thoroughly and leave to air dry.


The first step when cleaning leather trainers is to wipe the shoes over with a damp cloth. A white leather shoe cleaner should lift any surface stains when rubbed into your trainers in circular motions. Once clean, pat the trainers dry with a towel to soak up any excess moisture.


Using a soft brush made specifically for suede and nubuck is the ideal way to loosen debris or mud. Don’t apply too much pressure when using a brush to clean suede trainers as this can scratch their delicate surface. An eraser is an excellent tool for stain removal – simply rub suede surfaces gently to erase dark marks and smudges. Finish with a light coat of silicone spray to ward off dirt and moisture.

Use baking soda

Baking soda is a highly versatile, all-purpose, household item. Although commonly used in cooking, baking soda dissolved in water is perfect for removing dirt and stains. To clean the soles of a pair of trainers, make a paste using equal parts baking soda and water. Dip a toothbrush into your solution and brush all over the soles. Once the entire area has been covered, wipe away any residue with a damp cloth.

Blot the soles dry using a paper towel to soak up any excess water. For persistent stains, create a more potent paste by combining a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of white vinegar and then diluting with a cup of warm water.

Baking soda can ward off bad smells

Baking soda can also be used to freshen up smelly trainers. Add a spoonful of baking soda to each shoe, shake to distribute evenly, and then leave overnight. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer so will soak up any foul smells while also killing off any odor-causing bacteria. In the morning, empty the leftovers into the bin and brush away any excess particles.

Homemade deodorizers

To keep your trainers smelling fresh between wears, why not make some natural deodorizers? Simply fill a clean pair of socks with a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda and fasten with a rubber band. Then, place a sock in each shoe to absorb nasty odors. For year round freshness, replace your homemade deodorizers on a monthly basis.

Freshen insoles

When cleaning your trainers, it can be easy to forget about your insoles. Be it those arch support insoles or molded insoles that you have, it is important that you wash them once in a while. If your insoles are dirty or smelly, then start by removing them from your trainers. Hand washing each insole separately is the best way to clean them. First, gently scrub the insole with a soft bristle brush to remove any visible dirt. Then, use a small amount of detergent on a wet cloth for a deeper clean.

Insoles can be warped by high temperatures, so they should be dried in a cool, dark place, and stored away from direct sunlight or air vents. Once dry, re-insert your insoles so your trainers are ready to wear.

Baby wipes

Baby wipes are another household staple that can be used to freshen up a dirty pair of trainers. Although baby wipes are no substitute for a specially formulated cleaning solution, if you need a quick fix, using a wipe can work wonders. Any rubber or leather parts are prone to scuffs and marks but rubbing with a baby wipe might be all it takes to noticeably improve your shoes. To clean your trainers with baby wipes, begin on the toe, as this is the most visible part of the shoe. Then, swipe over the sides, before rubbing over the soles to shift any stubborn stains. If possible, use biodegradable and unscented baby wipes as they are much more environmentally friendly and are less likely to damage your trainers.

Invest in a shoe brush to prevent a build-up of dirt

If your trainers are often caked in dry mud, then a specialist shoe brush can remove the top layer of dirt and dust. Suede, canvas, leather, and mesh will all react differently to being brushed, so it is a good idea to make sure your brush is suitable first. If you want your shoes to last for as long as possible, try to clean them with a brush after each wear. Unfortunately, the longer you leave dirt and dust to build up, the more difficult it can be to remove. You should therefore act quickly to get the best out of your trainers.

How to use brushes to keep your trainers clean

  • Start by gently banging your trainers together outside to shift any larger clumps.
  • Then brush over any soiled areas with a soft bristle brush.
  • A soft toothbrush can also be used to clean in between any hard-to-reach grooves.

Don’t let dirty trainers hold you back from stepping out in style

Ultimately, if you do not have time to wash your trainers regularly, then dark-colored pairs tend to stay clean for longer when compared to white designs. Materials like leather that wipe clean are also much easier to maintain than mesh, canvas, leather, or suede.

How do you keep your favorite trainers clean?

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