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Forget longer daylight hours, seasonal allergies, and bare legs — for me, the truest harbinger of Spring is when friends start asking me, "Jolie, how to I keep my new white sneakers white?"
I'll tell you what I tell my friends: There's no real magic to it (well … there's a little bit of magic, but we'll get to that), but you do need to adopt a few regular habits if you truly want to keep your white tennis shoes looking like they just came out of the box.
We'll start at the bottom and work our way up.
Cleaning Rubber Soles and Outsoles
When it comes to keeping rubber soles and outsoles clean, I've got good news and bad news. (I'll start with the good because I don't want to alienate you right out of the gate.) The good news is that a product you probably already have is all you need to keep them clean, good old all-purpose cleaner. The bad news is that you should clean your soles and outsoles often. Like, every-few-wearings often. I know! I'm sorry, but I promise it won't take much time or energy — truly, the hardest part will be remembering to do it. The idea is this: Use an all-purpose spray cleaner like Fantastik or Formula 409 or whatever your particular poison is, combined with paper towels, a sponge, or, in the case of textured rubber, a toothbrush to give the rubber a quick cleaning to remove dirt and scuffs. That's all!
For more stubborn stains, or in the event the white rubber has started to yellow, a Magic Eraser is that, um, magic I promised you. This won't work super well on pebbled or textured rubber, but is great for smooth rubber, and can also tidy up little blips on leather.
How to Clean and Polish White Leather
Speaking of leather! If you've got white leather sneakers and you want to keep them looking brand new, get yourself some white shoe polish; if you have white kicks with colored detailing, opt for a neutral shoe polish.
To use shoe polish, start by brushing the shoes free of dirt or giving them a quick going over with a damp, sudsy sponge and removing the laces. Then, using a soft cloth like an old t-shirt, apply a thin layer of polish to the shoe, let it dry, and then buff using a shoe brush or a clean soft cloth. That's all! Easy as pie. It's just… well, you have to actually do it. It's kind of a mindless activity though, so it's something you could incorporate into your reality TV routine and turn into a little ritual ("It's time for Southern Charm! I'm gonna grab a glass of wine and my shoe polish and settle in!")
Keep Your White Canvas Tennis Shoes Looking Brand New
The washing machine is your best friend, the end. Okay, fine! I have more to say, you caught me. But really, when it comes to keeping white canvas tennis shoes clean and bright white, machine laundering is a really great and easy option. Use cold water and the delicate cycle, along with your regular laundry detergent — if the sneakers are really stained or soiled, pre-treat them with a laundry spray like Shout before washing. You should also always remove the laces and wash those separately, since a grime will accumulate around the eyelet.
Don't, however, put sneakers in the dryer. They won't come out of the wash sopping wet so, unless it's a particularly damp day, they'll air dry within a few hours. To ensure even drying, fold the tongue of the shoe back over the toebox to allow airflow to reach the interior.
But What of the Laces?
We tend to forget our laces, but we should pay more attention to them because can get really grimy in a low-level kind of way. It's not a bad idea to toss 'em in the washing machine from time to time — that's really all it will take. Put the laces into a small launderable mesh bag to keep them from winding themselves around the rest of the clothes in the wash, and skip the dryer to avoid shrinkage. Laces are lightweight enough that they'll come out of the spin cycle almost entirely dry, so a short amount of air drying will be all you need to allow for before they're ready to go back in your sneaks.
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