How to Clean Vans Shoes: DIY Methods That Actually Work

Last Updated: January 01, 2024 | Author: James Leigh

How to Clean Vans Shoes

White Vans shoes are a fashion staple, but they can be notoriously difficult to keep clean. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the best ways to clean your Vans, whether they're made of canvas, suede, or leather.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Clean White Vans Matter
  2. Quick Clean vs Deep Clean
  3. Cleaning Canvas Vans
  4. Cleaning Suede Vans
  5. Cleaning Leather Vans
  6. Machine Wash or Not?
  7. Cleaning Tips for the White Strip
  8. Key Takeaways
  9. FAQs

Why Clean White Vans Matter

Let's face it, clean white Vans make a statement. They're not just shoes; they're a lifestyle. Keeping them pristine elevates your entire look. But how do you maintain that bright white appearance? Read on to find out.

Comparison Table: Best Ways to Clean Different Types of Vans

Cleaning Method Best For Cleaning Agents Steps Pros Cons
Baking Soda Method White Canvas Vans, Sneakers Baking soda, Mild Detergent 1. Mix baking soda and mild detergent.
2. Scrub with toothbrush.
3. Rinse and air dry.
- Effective stain remover
- Keeps white Vans looking pristine
- Not suitable for suede or leather
Bleach Method White Shoes, White Vans Sneakers Bleach, Water 1. Dilute bleach with water.
2. Dip a clean cloth and wipe.
3. Rinse and dry the shoes with white paper towels.
- Makes anything white brighter - Can weaken fabric
- Risk of uneven bleaching
White Vinegar Method Leather and Canvas White Vinegar, Water 1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water.
2. Apply with a cloth.
3. Wipe away excess water.
- Natural cleaning product
- Good for leather shoes
- Strong smell
Washing Machine Method Canvas Material Detergent 1. Remove insoles and laces.
2. Put Vans in a washer.
3. Air dry.
- Easy and quick - May turn shoes yellow
- Not recommended for leather or suede Vans
Specialized Cleaners Leather or Suede Vans Leather Cleaner, Suede Cleaner 1. Apply cleaner.
2. Gently scrub.
3. Wipe with a clean cloth.
- Maintains material quality
- Effective for tough stains on your shoes
- May require additional products like leather conditioner

Key Points to Remember:

  • Always test a small, inconspicuous area before applying any cleaning solution to the entire shoe.
  • Make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again.
  • For leather or suede Vans, it's best to use specialized cleaners to maintain the material's integrity.
  • If you're using the washing machine method, wash your shoes separately from other clothes to avoid color bleeding.

Quick Clean vs Deep Clean

Quick Clean

For those days when you're in a hurry but your Vans are looking a little worse for wear, a quick clean is your go-to. All you need is a clean cloth, some warm water, and a mild detergent. Dip the cloth into the soapy water and gently scrub the surface of the shoes. Rinse and let them air dry.

Deep Clean

Sometimes your Vans need a little more TLC. This involves a more thorough cleaning process, using baking soda, bleach, or specialized cleaners. We'll delve into this in the sections below.

Cleaning Canvas Vans

Materials Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Mild detergent
  • Old toothbrush or soft brush
  • Warm water


  1. Remove the laces and insoles.
  2. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with mild detergent to form a paste.
  3. Apply the paste using an old toothbrush and scrub your shoes.
  4. Rinse off the paste and let the shoes air dry away from direct sunlight.

Cleaning Suede Vans

Suede is a bit more delicate than canvas. You'll need a suede brush and some suede cleaner for this task.

  1. Use masking tape to cover parts of the shoe you don't want to clean.
  2. Gently scrub the suede areas with a suede brush to remove dirt and debris.
  3. Apply a suede cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes before brushing away.

Cleaning Leather Vans

Leather Vans require a different approach. You'll need leather cleaner and conditioner.

  1. Wipe away surface dirt and dust with a damp cloth.
  2. Apply leather cleaner using a soft cloth.
  3. Finish by applying leather conditioner to keep your leather Vans looking their best.

Machine Wash or Not?

Putting your Vans in the washing machine is a topic of debate. While it's a quick way to clean your canvas Vans, it can turn your shoes yellow and degrade the glue that holds them together. It's best to hand wash canvas shoes to maintain their quality and color.

Cleaning Tips for the White Strip on Your Vans

That iconic white strip can get dirty too. Use a magic eraser or a paste of baking soda and water to get it back to bright white. Gently scrub with an old toothbrush and wipe away with a clean cloth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Canvas, suede, and leather Vans each require different cleaning methods.
  • Quick cleans are good for maintenance, but deep cleans are necessary for tougher stains.
  • Avoid machine washing your Vans to preserve their quality and color.
  • Don't forget to clean the iconic white strip to keep your Vans looking pristine.

List of Best Vans Shoes

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What's the best way to clean white canvas Vans?

The best way to clean white canvas Vans is by using a mixture of baking soda and mild detergent. Scrub the mixture onto the shoes with an old toothbrush, rinse, and let them air dry.

2. Can I put my Vans in the washing machine?

Yes, you can put canvas Vans in the washing machine. However, it's not recommended for leather or suede Vans. Make sure to remove the insoles and laces before washing.

3. How do I clean the rubber and white strip on my Vans?

To clean the rubber and white strip, you can use white vinegar or a specialized cleaning solution. Apply it with a toothbrush to clean those hard-to-reach areas effectively.

4. Are there easy ways to clean leather or suede Vans?

Yes, for leather Vans, you can use a leather cleaner and a soft cloth. For suede Vans, a suede cleaner and a suede brush work best. Always test a small area first.

5. How do I keep my Vans white and looking their best?

To keep your Vans white, avoid using bleach as it can weaken the fabric. Instead, allow the baking soda mixture to sit on the stains for a few minutes before scrubbing. Also, avoid drying your shoes in direct sunlight to prevent yellowing.

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James Leigh

James Leigh

James Leigh is a certified health professional, physiotherapist, and a seasoned runner who wins Boston Marathon, with a wealth of experience under his belt. Passionate about sharing his expertise with fellow runners. James is your go-to expert for your health, wellness and running tips.