Clean Your Canvas Shoes! (Toms & Keds)

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On the TOMS website, it says: We highly recommend hand washing TOMS in cold water with a gentle detergent and let them air dry. We do NOT recommend putting TOMS in the dryer under any circumstances.

While hand washing would do the job, let me show you a shortcut to save some time but you HAVE to be careful when you do this, people. If you throw caution to the wind, you could ruin the shape as well as the adhesive of the shoe and that’ll make you sad.

I agree about not putting them in a dryer, but they didn’t say anything about a washing machine! This tip works for any canvas shoes, it doesn’t matter what colour they are or what fabric they are – even if you have sparkles on them!

So, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dirty Canvas Shoes
  • A Washing Machine
  • A Small Brush (a toothbrush works well)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Mixing Bowl

UGGS-CLEANING-BANNER

To start, take an old toothbrush and quickly remove any dirt or debris before washing your shoes.  This will make for easier stain removal and a more successful wash.

If you have any bad stains, you can pre-treat it with a laundry stain remover (but you may want to test it out first in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t bleach your shoes).

To get the soles clean, add some baking soda to a bowl and create a paste by mixing an equal amount of water in.  Dip the toothbrush in and gently massage the paste into the sole – when you’re done, wipe them clean.

Now it’s time for your washing machine to do the rest!

We’ll start by running a gentle cycle with cold water.

  • Add gentle detergent (about half of what you would normally use) to the cycle when it’s about half way filled with water
  • Once the machine is about 3/4 the way full, add in the shoes
  • When the cycle is finished, take out the shoes and leave them to air dry

That’s right, air dry.  Not in the dryer, not over a vent

Put them on a back porch and let the sun dry them up.

If you don’t heed this warning, you’ll have shrunken and shriveled shoes – Heed this warning and your shoes should be looking marvelous!

Now that the hard part is done, remember to keep them smelling great by using shoe powder.  I use Dr. Scholl’s which is moisture and odour absorbing.

Apparently straight baking soda will dry out the leather insole but you can also make your own powder for a lot less with the following recipe:

  • 1 cup cornstarch (which is a gentle absorbent)
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup baking powder

Put it in a locking lid container or Ziploc bag.

Add in 5 drops of sage, lavender or any other essential oils that you like (and preferably have an anti-bacterial property to them), shake well and store in the locked container.

Powder your shoes overnight and dump the powder in the AM and also powder your feet as needed during the day to reduce moisture and odours.

Clean Your Toms and Keds

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

116 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve also done this for years with Toms, Keds, and Converse. Only difference is I stuff with newspaper to help absorb moisture and dry faster. I’m not positive but I feel like the yellowing issues may be your detergent. Use a mild detergent like Woolite and I always throw an old towel or two in with them.

  2. Where are your answers to these questions?Pls. Help me. 🙁 my white keds has a yellow stain after washing it. I use my hands to wash it not the washing machine coz I’m afraid it might pull off. How can I remove the yellow stain? Thank u. Much appreciated. I also have a brand new pair of white keds that got black grease from a car door jam how do I get it out?

  3. Thank you very much! Kind of already knew but wasn’t quite sure, I now know I can throw my shoes in the washer, thanks again Melissa!

  4. Hi, Donna! I do the same thing but I don’t think that this is the right way to clean our shoes 🙂 I ruined my favorite shoes a month ago and now I am searching for alternatives. So, I will try this way of cleaning! Thanks!

  5. I’ve been tossing mine in the washing machine with detergent, oxiclean, and clorox ll for 2 years and they are still perfect. I air dry them. They are the light beige color!

  6. Hi, I have a pair of cherry red Vans that got destroyed at a concert and are covered in a strange black stain. I ran them through the washer (like I do with my Converse) and although it got the worst part off it didn’t get everything off. They faded a bit, but not enough to notice from a distance (I only noticed because I was inspecting the shoe an inch from my face). I’m terrified of I put them back in there that they will fade a great deal more, but I really need them cleaned. I wear them with like everything. Can you please help?

    • I did the same thing with my black Toms and it killed them and now they are closer to white than black and I didn’t even use bleach.

  7. I love the video! I did have one quick question though. What if the shoe itself is not dirty, just the insole? The insole is dirty and smelly. Should I just wash it the same way?

    Thank u in advance!

    • Jordan–putting a few drops of Eucalyptus oil on a rag & wiping insoles will remove the odor. (If the insole is really dirty, i’m no expert–perhaps soap & hot water on a rag & wiping?)

  8. I wash my Keds in the washing machine and also put them in the dryer. Always in the past, they yellow when air dried. I don’t have any problems with them in the dryer. As for my Toms, I put them in the shower with me. I scrub them with a toothbrush and liquid laundry detergent, inside and out and then rinse them really good. They drip dry propped up against the wall or I have dropped them in a spin cycle on the washer. Works great. I wear socks or the little no show footies with mine to keep them from getting “smelly”

    • Pls. Help me. 🙁 my white keds has a yellow stain after washing it. I use my hands to wash it not the washing machine coz I’m afraid it might pull off. How can I remove the yellow stain? Thank u. Much appreciated.

  9. Dear Melissa, my shoes are wedgies with canvas like white tops, I don,t think they should go in the wash machine, I am going to try the laundry spot remover. Arline

  10. My 3-year-old peed thoroughly on one of my gray Tom’s. I will try this method. What have I got to lose? I will never wear them again otherwise. Serves me right for leaving my shoes in the den floor.

  11. I’ve washed my canvas shoes for years. Sometimes the white canvas isn’t completely white at the end. There is a LIQUID white shoe polish that is good on canvas as well as leather. I grew up using this on my sandals. It works really well on canvas shoes. I remember wearing some totally torn and worn out Keds in high school that were gleaming white. Loved it!

  12. Hey, i would like to ask if this method works on BLUE KEDS i’m afraid the colors will turn white. Need your answer. Thanks 🙂

  13. I have a pair of steve madden white wedges. they have like an espadrille platform. Was wondering how i can clean them. wouldnt the espadrille expand?

  14. I washed my white keds with laundry detergent and when they dried orange spots showed up like they were rusted. What do i do now?

  15. My feet are also very sweaty… I don’t know why… but now I’m using special Zederna Insoles made from cedar wood to prevent this problem. Maybe you I will try this to go barefooted in my TOMS.

  16. good evening. my red tour asia keds had discolored.. is there any way to bring back its original color? thank you for your response…..

  17. Hi! I just washed my red canvas keds in the washing machine and they looked perfectly clean but then suddenly a black line appeared in the wrinkle of the foot and I can’t remove it. Any idea??? 🙁

  18. I have a pair of the white sperrys that are almost like a light canvas material. I have no idea what to use to wash them. I don’t want to end up ruining them. Is using the laundry detergent going to hurt them? or should i use a bleach?

  19. Sadly, this didn’t work for me. I had such high hopes, but the stains on my white canvas sneakers (mostly at the front from wearing them in the rain) did not come out at all, even with a pre-treater. Maybe the gentle cycle is too gentle to work.

  20. How to clean white sneakers ..I’ve been searching in YouTube, some put in washing machine n some uses bleach, but as I know bleach will just turn your white sneakers to yellow , plz help

  21. Hello everyone….couple of tips for white canvas…..adding diluted “bluing” to wash water will make them nice and white (works for white fabrics also) Bluing is available in the laundry aisle…..comes in a small bottle, u MUST dilute it w/water before pouring in washer!!
    Also hairspray works like magic on ink stains on any fabric…..saturate stain w/hairspray and wash as usual, saved many dress shirts this way!

  22. I tired hand washing my shoes with BLEACH man was I wrong my all white Keds turned purple. And the rim of the shoe is now yellow.

  23. I have a pair of white keds and I bleached them but they ended up coming out half white and half yellow. I’m not sure how to make them white again , please help !

  24. I have a pair of black canvas shoes and they had dirt on them i brushed the dirt with a toothbrush and some detergent and kniw the dirt turned into white stain, is there a way to clean that off.

    Thanx.

  25. I cleaned my daughters keds and turned them upside down on top of the dryer on top of a towel to dry. To my surprise when I went back they had brown stains all around the sides, I wasn’t sure what happened, but I’m thinking the adhesive somehow overheated and ran into the canvas?? is there a way to get them white again??? Please help!

  26. I’m not sure if you still check this/will post a reply, but I just tried washing my white keds (which were not very dirty but had a few scuffs) and after taking them out of the washing machine it looks like the keds logo has bled and turned my shoes light blue!!! Obviously because they’re wet it’s hard to know what their final colour will be, but is there anyway to fix this? Will bleaching them totally ruin the canvas? Waa I’m so bummed 🙁

  27. how can i remove my black footprints off from my flats? my flats are more in the line wooden shade,still i didn’t find any relevant tip on my query,i would be grateful if you reply with positive anser

  28. Hi I went to Branson and I was wearing my bobs and it was raining and I got them so dirty I thout they were done for will your Tom cleaning video work for my bobs ?

  29. hi! i have light pink vans shoes and i tried washig them and unfortunately put some stain remover and they turned yellow in some spots…what to do now? help please 🙁

  30. I used to do all these steps, until I discovered that I only had to do two steps. Fill a bucket or sink with water, add to it dirty shoes or hats, and my Dr. Bonner’s Castile soap. Castile soap actually disintegrates the dirt, then throw them in the gentle cycle, and air dry. Works really well with your running shoes, too.

  31. Before i read this i used some vanish spray to get rid of some mud, it took the color out in a few places ,i have hardly worn them as i recently bought them. Is there anyway i can fix this???:(

  32. I need help getting a white residue (remnants of wet paper towel) off black canvas wedges. 🙁 only wore once and have tried cold water, dabbing with vinegar using a towel and no luck!!

  33. What if they don’t necessarily smell bad, but they are kind of muddy? I love my TOMS and wear them a lot, so I am desperate to find out how to clean the mud off. its not dry, or wet, so I can’t really shake off the mud— any suggestion? Do the same things apply?

  34. What happened to your leather insoles when they are in the washing machine? I’ve washed my Toms many times in the washing machine, but the leather always seems to curl up around the edges!

  35. Wish I’d found this before I’d ruined my two-day-old pair of gorgeous aqua Toms. Someone stupidly told me they were colorfast. Thanks so much for showing me the RIGHT way to fix them!

  36. My toms are really needing a cleaning but mine are canvas shoes that I had custom painted would that ruin the paint in any way?

    • Painted shoes will most likely lose their hue. Sorry! Call Tom’s customer service, and see if they have special instructions for this.

  37. my canvas toms got purple stains from plants when it was raining.how do i get rid of the stains without damaging the shoes?i would appreciate your help alot

  38. I love the baking soda tip for the soles.. Never would have guessed!
    I do have to disagree on the dryer thing though.. I have always washed/dryed my toms with no problems. They may look a little funky at first but I like that they are tight like new again, and it does not take long for them to form to my feet.
    Maybe because I always wash/dry mine with some towels or clothes they have been spared, but I will use more caution next time (:
    Thanks (:

  39. hi, i have sperry top siders and i was them how you said, but i never read the part where i wasnt suppose to air vent dir them and well they are leather, and they got burnt and i want to know if there is anyting i can do, may mink oil? Or shoe conditionar, or are they done for good? I really love my sperrys and i almost cried when i saw them.

  40. Thank You soo much they are clean!!!!! now i am going to make the powder that makes your shoes smell good. Thank you soo much for doing the videos they really help me a lot…you are an awesom person and ny mom and i think you have an awesom personality!!! 🙂

  41. I haven’t read all the comments yet so someone might have posted this, I’m not sure. I’ve had a few friends machine wash their toms and totally disintegrated the insides. I don’t have light colored toms so I don’t have problems with stains but I’m extremely hesitant to put them in the wash machine after the horror stories I’ve heard 🙁 I do have a tip for drying them out though if they get wet from rain/puddles/etc. I’ve done this several times and it works great. Fill them with rice. It absorbs both the smell and the moisture and don’t distort the shape.

  42. One word of warning:
    If you machine wash your Toms (I have a basic gray canvas pair) multiple times, the leather insole starts to come unglued and curl at the toes. I air dried mine each time, too. This has happened with many of my friends’ shoes too.

  43. I have a pair of glitter toms that are in desperate need of cleaning and i wanted to know if this method would work for those? and if it would work for some with sequins too?

  44. I’ve done something similar to this for many years. I love nice, white canvas shoes. I suggest crumbling some paper towel down in the toes of the shoes while they air dry to keep the shape of the shoe.

  45. I did a water soap and toothbrush method because I wasn’t sure about the washer, and it worked very well. I couldn’t get the soles clean though! I also have a problem with the smell inside! Thanks! (My toms are navy)

  46. I have a pair of Keens in a flower-print canvas. I pulled out the insoles, then tossed the shoes in the washer with a load of towels (to help the scrubbing action). I used cool-ish water (it’s too hot out for my water to be truly cool) and regular liquid Tide. Set them out to dry near an a/c vent. The shoes were pretty dirty to start with, but washing definitely helped. I think washing them a second time will brighten them up a bit more. I hand-washed the insoles. You can do this with any canvas Keen shoe.

  47. Do you know if this will work with the glitter TOMS? Mine smell horrible and I’ve nervous to wash them because I don’t want to wash off the glitter or crack the leather bottom.

  48. Hi Melissa, before I read this I washed my white canvas keds with laundry detergent, water, and a toothbrush and then let then dry in the sun. After they were dry I had noticed that by the front of my shoes they had turned yellow. Do you know why this happened? Thank you.

    • If you dry them in the sun, they won’t turn brown. I think it’s because they dry faster outside and it doesn’t allow time for the glue and gook to fade onto the shoe. Just my guess. I do know though that if dried inside, they turn brown, if dried outside in the bright sunshine, they won’t.

  49. Do you know of a way to stretch a pair of Tom’s without wearing them? I got a pair for my birthday and though they ate the same size as my other pair they are MUCH too small and when I try to wear them to stretch them out they hurt my feet super bad and I have to take them off.

    • Try wearing them with socks! I wear TOMS almost 365 days a year, so in the winter, I wear them with thick, fuzzy socks, and now my black TOMS are pretty darn stretched out! And getting them wet and letting them dry will shrink them back down.

    • you can try putting them in the freezer! just fill a ziplock bag with water and put it in the shoe then simply place the shoe in the freezer. when the bag of water freezes it expands the shoe.

  50. Thank you so much! Toms are basically all I wear during the summer, and mine are falling apart and in a desperate need of a cleaning. I’ve washed mine before but it didn’t do much. Im really excited for this!

    • Hi Cassie, let us know what happens! I have had that pair now for almost 2 years and they are in amazing shape (and I’m no fawn when it comes to being careful with shoes). Good luck!

    • You can try the mixture without it, I’ve never tried it so I can’t tell you the exact effect. However, the next time you pick up groceries go to the baking aisle and grab a little container, it’s super inexpensive and very accessible!

    • Hi Sydnie, Lace TOMS you can wash the same way, perhaps consider placing them in a delicates laundry bag for added protection (those are so pretty, BTW, I’ve been seriously contemplating a pair). For your B/W TOMS, I think you should be fine to wash them too – from what I can ascertain TOMS should be colourfast.

  51. Hi Lauren, I’m not sure why that would have happened…I suppose it depended on the kind of detergent you used. My insoles temporarily curled at the toes after air drying them and once I wore them again they went right back to their original format. The leather will dry out a slight bit. You can try wiping them down with a leather conditioner if you want after cleaning, that may help (just let it dry for 24 hours). I have not noticed any cracking or peeling and have washed mine numerous times. Good luck!

  52. I personally have a pair of tons and They are really needing a cleaning. Though the fury time I washed them I had hand washed them. And although they were cleaner. They weren’t the cleanest they could have been. As well the insoles of my shoes dried out and cracked and is now pealing. I air dried my shoes and i was wondering with this method if it will dry out my insoles, causing them to crack and tear again. Have you noticed a difference, after cleaning, about how your insoles compared to before washing them??

  53. What if I cannot load my washing machine after the cycle starts? (mine is just like that). Is that a problem?

    Cheers!

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