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How to Clean White Vans: Canvas, Leather and Suede

Get a fresh start with your white Vans. 

The dream of anybody that owns white sneakers is that they stay white, clean and fresh. But that’s not possible, especially if you wear them daily or outdoors.

However, you can definitely restore your white shoes so they look as good as new. That way, you can be proud of their pristine bright whiteness again.

Today, we’ll show you how to clean white Vans so they are the statement piece of any outfit. There’s no room for dingy, unclean, discolored sneakers.

Key Takeaways

  • Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to clean white canvas Vans, scrub gently, and let them air dry.
  • Use baking soda and water or Nikwax for white leather Vans, and finish with a leather conditioner.
  • Clean white suede Vans with suede cleaner or white vinegar, and brush them after drying to restore texture.
  • Avoid using bleach or washing machines, as they can damage or discolor your Vans.

Can You Wash Vans?

Vans shoes can be washed, but Vans don’t recommend putting them in the washing machine (1).

Even if you put them in a mesh laundry bag, or pillowcase, the shoes can still get damaged. We’ll teach you how to wash Vans by hand, in a gentle way which cares for the shoes.

How to Clean White Vans — Canvas

If your white Vans are a canvas material, here are our top methods for cleaning them.

Before You Start

Always remove the shoelaces. They can be washed in the machine with your next load of laundry. Just make sure to put them in a mesh bag first.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

  1. Mix together two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide in a bowl.
  2. Dip an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush into the mixture.
  3. Apply it to the shoes, gently scrubbing in circular motions to remove as much dirt as possible.
  4. Apply extra paste until the shoes are fully coated. Leave the shoes in the sun until the paste is hard.
  5. Clap the shoes together to remove as much of the paste as possible.
  6. Rinse the Vans with a wet clean cloth.
  7. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels and let them air dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.


  1. Mix together one part bleach and five parts water.
  2. Using an old toothbrush or scrub brush, dip into the solution and scrub the Vans, focusing mostly on the scuffed or stained areas.
  3. Rinse clean with a wet cloth.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels and let them air dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.

Expert Advice

Use dye-free bleach. Undiluted bleach can yellow your white Vans. Also, wear old clothes and work in a ventilated area as bleach is a hazardous substance.

Dish Soap or Detergent

  1. Mix together two cups of warm water and ¼ cup of laundry detergent or a few tablespoons of dish soap.
  2. Dip an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush into the solution and gently rub over the Vans in circular motions. Continue this onto the rubber soles.
  3. Repeat until the shoes are clean. We recommend having another bowl of clean water nearby to dip the brush into between applying more detergent. This prevents you depositing dirt back into your cleaning solution.
  4. Wipe the shoes clean with a wet cloth or towel.
  5. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels and let them air dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.

Magic Eraser

  1. Soak your magic eraser.
  2. Scrub it over your shoes, focusing mostly on stained and scuffed areas.
  3. For stubborn stains, add a little drop of dish soap or laundry detergent to the stained area. Scrub it with your magic eraser.
  4. Stuff newspaper or paper towels into the shoes to soak up the moisture. This helps the shoes hold their shape while they air dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.

How to Clean White Leather Vans

Leather Vans should always be washed by hand. Never put these shoes in the washing machine! We’ve got two methods to share with you.

Baking Soda

  1. Mix together two parts water and one part baking soda to create a paste.
  2. Using a cloth, gently scrub away dirt using your solution. Spend more time on stained or scuffed areas.
  3. Continue until the shoes are white again.
  4. Stuff the shoes with paper or towel and let them air dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.
  5. Once they’re dry, finish with a leather conditioner to protect your shoes from further staining.


These tips are recommended by Vans, specifically for their leather shoes.

  1. Using a shoe brush, gently scrub off surface-level dirt and grime.
  2. Use the Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and a synthetic brush to clean the shoes.
  3. Use a leather conditioner or water-proofing product over the shoes. If the product requires shoes to be dry before adding this step, wait until the shoes are dry.
  4. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels. Air dry in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.

How to Clean White Suede Vans

We also have two tips for cleaning suede Vans, depending on what you have in the cupboard.

Suede Cleaner

  1. Use a suede brush to remove surface-level dirt from the tops, bottoms and sides of the shoes.
  2. Apply a small amount of suede cleaner to a toothbrush and gently scrub it over the shoes. Work it harder into the stained areas.
  3. Clean the rubber strips and bottoms with warm soapy water and an old toothbrush.
  4. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels and let them air dry in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.

White Vinegar

  1. Rub stains with a pink pencil eraser.
  2. Dip a clean soft cloth into white vinegar and gently rub stained or discolored areas.
  3. Continue until the shoes are clean.
  4. Stuff the shoes with paper or towels and let them air dry in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
  5. Once the shoes are fully dry, use a suede brush to rub the exterior of the shoes. This will bring back the soft suede texture.

How to Clean the Inside of Your Vans

Of course, the inside of your Vans can get pretty gross, too. Here’s how to clean them well.

  1. Lay down a towel to keep your surfaces clean.
  2. Mix together baking soda and mild detergent to create a paste.
  3. Use an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush to apply the paste to the shoe’s interior.
  4. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Soak a cloth in warm water and wipe away the residue.
  6. Air dry in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.


How Do You Get Stains Out of Vans?

Most of our methods will tackle stains during the cleaning process, but if you’re struggling, keep the solution on the stained area for up to an hour. This will help lift the stain so it’s easier to remove when you continue cleaning.

You can also use a mild stain remover. Just check that it’s safe for leather and suede, since many won’t be.

Can You Use Bleach on White Vans?

If bleach is all you have, then you can use it on canvas Vans. However, it can ruin suede and leather Vans.

How Do You Clean White Vans Without Bleach?

Bleach isn’t our first choice for cleaning Vans, since it’s hazardous and can even yellow the shoes. In fact, we never recommend bleach for suede or leather.

It only works with canvas shoes and even then, we recommend our other methods over bleach. Check out our instructions above to see alternative methods to bleach.

How Do You Clean White Vans With Vinegar?

We recommend vinegar for cleaning suede white Vans. Dip a cloth into distilled white vinegar and gently rub it all over the shoes. For easier application, you can even put the vinegar into a spray bottle!

Can I Use OxiClean on My Vans?

You can use OxiClean on white canvas Vans, but not suede or leather.

To use OxiClean, make a solution in your sink according to the manufacturer instructions. Use an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush to work the solution into the exterior. Rinse with a cool clean cloth. Air dry the shoes, stuffed with paper, in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.

Why Did My Vans Turn Yellow After Washing?

This could be down to two reasons:

  1. You used too much bleach and it wasn’t dye-free. This can cause yellow discoloration on white Vans.
  2. You haven’t rinsed away your solution well enough. Therefore, it’s left a yellow residue on your shoes.

To fix this, repeat the cleaning process using a whitening agent like baking soda or white vinegar. However, it may be too late to rescue the shoes.

Can Toothpaste Remove Yellow Stains From White Shoes?

Toothpaste does remove yellow stains from white shoes. Use a toothbrush and rub the toothpaste onto the yellow stain. Add some water and scrub again, then rinse the shoe clean. Repeat this process as many times as you need to make the blemish vanish.

Increase the Lifespan of Your Vans

Vans are cool kicks that should last a good few years. Don’t be scared of buying white Vans, just because they’ll get dirty more easily. With our awesome methods, you can restore them back to their original white hue.

Just make sure to alter your method based on whether the shoes are canvas, leather or suede. And always rinse away the solution as best as you can to prevent residue buildup and discoloration.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!