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How to keep white trainers white

How to keep white trainers white
Photographed: Grenson Sneaker 1 Men's (£170)

When it comes to footwear, a pair of box-fresh white trainers are hard to beat. Not only do they go with everything, but they’re a stone cold classic that will never go out of style. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at pictures of Steve McQueen in his white tennis shoes, or Idris Elba in his Stan Smiths. Both appear effortlessly stylish – and it’s not just thanks to their movie star looks.

But white trainers are dirt magnets, especially when the weather's hard to guess. That doesn't mean you need to wait till summer to break yours out. You just need to spend a few minutes prepping them for anything.

Use protection

Before you do anything else, make sure you give your new shoes a good going-over with a protection spray to guard against moisture and dirt. Look for a water-repellent product that’s been specially designed for trainers, such as these by Crep Protect or adidas. For best results, spray and let sit for 24 hours. This allows the repellent to soak in and work its magic on your kicks.

Invest in tools

If you’ve been making do with an old toothbrush to clean your shoes up until now, then you might have been doing more harm than good. That’s because a lot of toothbrushes are too harsh and can ruin the suede or leather. Instead, invest in three inexpensive tools: a hard brush, a soft brush, and a microfibre cloth. The hard brush is for leather, the soft one for suede or canvas, and the cloth is for wiping all over.

Remember the laces

These are easy to clean, so there’s really no excuse for leaving them filthy. Just take the laces out, wash in lukewarm soapy water and pop them on the radiator to dry out. If there’s really no saving them, then replacing them with a fresh pair is a cheap way to rejuvenate your shoes.

Dry straightaway

If you’ve been out in wet weather, then it’s vital you dry your trainers as soon as possible. Use that microfibre cloth to wipe off excess water and then stuff them with kitchen roll. This will absorb any moisture and help prevent that weird damp smell you get with wet shoes. If there are any streaks or stains, then use a wet wipe to do some spot-cleaning. Remember: regular cleans when needed will do more good than a monthly deep clean.

Avoid the washing machine

Contrary to popular belief, the washing machine is not your trainers’ friend (the tumble dryer is their nemesis). Both the heat and the friction caused by the wash cycle can damage the stitching and discolour the rubber of your shoes. If you must wash them in the machine, then only do so at the lowest temperature and most gentle cycle. And fill up the drum with towels or sweatshirts to provide a buffer that stops them banging around.


Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Chris Howlett
Styling: Brooke Philips