How to Clean Converse Shoes

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This one’s for all you Converse lovers. So far at CMS I’ve covered how to clean crocs, how to clean running shoes, and how to clean keds and toms. I know all you Converse wearers have been waiting with bated breath for your turn, so let’s do this!

Today I’m going to tell you how to clean Converse shoes, how to clean white Converse (and remove stains), and how to clean Converse rubber. And I’m going to share an easy DIY shoe cleaner recipe with you. Because we all know how great it feels to step out in clean, brand-new-looking shoes. 

Melissa Maker in a pink shirt holding converse shoes

How to Clean Converse Shoes

Converse lovers can rejoice because cleaning Converse shoes is super easy. You don’t even have to use that much elbow grease; you can actually throw them in the washing machine. But before you do, be sure to read these instructions. 

First off, if you notice that there are some stains on the canvas (the fabric part of your Converse), you can pretreat them with laundry detergent or fabric pretreater. Let that sit for at least 10 minutes before you wash. 

Then, remove the laces of your shoes. A lot of people forget about laces when it comes to cleaning shoes, but your shoelaces get just as dirty as your shoes do. You can actually clean the laces in the wash as well, but you want to remove them and throw them in a delicates bag and then throw that into the laundry. I love this because you can get everything cleaned at the same time. 

Along with your delicates bag with your laces and your Converse shoes, you want to launder some sturdy fabric like towels, jeans, and work clothes. These fabrics will actually help clean your shoes because they’ll scrub against the shoe and work more of that dirt off. Of course, you don’t want to do this with delicate items because they might get damaged by your shoes, and they won’t actually do any scrubbing work. 

You can use regular detergent to wash your shoes, but be sure to wash them with cold water. And if you want, you can add a scoop of oxygen bleach to the laundry. What that will do is whiten and brighten your fabrics, and it will help you deodorize shoes because I’m guessing if the outside needs cleaning, they might be smelling a little funky on the inside too. If you have any questions about oxygen bleach, read, What is Oxygen Bleach?: Laundry Tips. I also have a DIY shoe powder recipe if you ever need to deal with shoe smell in between cleans. 

When the laundry cycle is done, I recommend air drying your Converse. Put them in the sun if you can, or at least somewhere where there’s a lot of air circulation. To avoid your shoes from flattening while they dry, you can reform their shape with a breathable fabric like a mesh. 

All you have to do to reform your shoe is take your breathable fabric and stuff it into each shoe. Think about how there’s tissue paper or cardboard inside new shoes at the shoe store to keep their shape. That’s what you want to do with your mesh fabric. You do need to use a breathable fabric for this because if you use a fabric that isn’t breathable, like a towel, for example, that fabric will just absorb all the water, and your shoes will never dry. 

And remember, shoes do take a while to dry, so don’t do this if you want to wear them the same day. I like to wash my Converse in the afternoon and let them dry in the sun. Then they’re ready to go the next morning. 

Black converse in the grass

How to Clean White Converse

I get a lot of questions about cleaning shoes, but specifically about cleaning white shoes. A clean pair of white shoes look great with so many outfits. But when they get dirty and stained, they don’t look so hot. And that happens pretty quickly with white shoes. 

Essentially, cleaning white Converse is the same as cleaning any other color of Converse. You just need to pay more attention to stains and whitening. So, follow the instructions listed in the last section. But absolutely pretreat stains and marks, and always wash your white Converse with oxygen bleach. 

If my white Converse aren’t dirty enough to be washed, but I notice they have a small stain, sometimes I simply treat the stain on its own. I do this by mixing a little bit of dish liquid in a small bowl of warm water. Then I dip my cleaning toothbrush in the cleaning solution and scrub the stain gently. This works well on light stains in-between full cleans. 

How to Clean Converse Rubber: DIY Shoe Cleaner

The way I clean rubber souls is that I make a DIY sole cleaner. How I do this is I make a paste using a little bit of dish soap and a little bit of baking soda. There’s no exact formula here; you just want the consistency of a paste. If you’re finding it feels too thick, add a small amount of water. 

Once you’ve got your paste, grab a cleaning toothbrush and apply it to the sole of the shoe. Then I give it a good scrub and watch those marks, stains, and dirt scrub off. Finally, I give it a good rinse because I want to get all that paste off my shoe rubber. And that’s it. Easy peasy!

Keep Your Converse Clean 

Converse are great shoes because they look great and because they’re super easy to clean! Remember to pretreat and/or spot treat stains, especially on white and light-colored Converse shoes. And oxygen bleach is your best friend when it comes to brightening and deodorizing. 

If you’re looking for even more shoe cleaning content, check out The Ultimate UGG Boot Cleaning Guide. And if I haven’t covered your favorite shoe, let me know in the comments below, and I just might!

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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.

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