How To Clean White Soles on Shoes

Looking your best is always a good motivation to clean your shoes. However, cleaning the soles of your shoes is also a matter of health. Recent studies have shown that a brand-new pair of shoes will be contaminated with over 440,000 bacteria, so now you have an extra reason to keep those white soles clean. 

You can clean white soles on shoes with household items such as baking soda, bleach, toothpaste, and vinegar. Cleaning the white soles of shoes should preserve the material’s color but also kill harmful microbes.  

This article will explore various methods for cleaning and sanitizing white soles. I’ll discuss the use and effects of bleach, baking soda, white vinegar, and even toothpaste. I’ll also talk about how to remove yellow stains.  

How To Clean White Soles on Shoes

When the white soles of your shoes get dirty, throwing them in with the rest of the white laundry is not the best solution. It may be the fastest route, but putting shoes in the washer can damage the shoes and sometimes the washer.   

Besides the risks involved, they may not even get very clean in the washer. Fortunately, there are several simple and inexpensive alternatives to cleaning white soles.  

It’s important to know what the material of the shoe sole is before applying any chemical to it. Most white shoe soles are made of rubber, as it’s the cheapest to manufacture. It’s naturally white, so no pigments need to be added to change the color. 

Knowing this, you’ll understand why some solutions are better than others for cleaning white soles.  

Applying Bleach on White Soles

I first want to talk about bleach, as it’s many people’s initial go-to product for whitening fabrics and getting out stains. Here’s a chart showing a few of the pros and cons of using bleach:

Pros Cons 
Bleach is a strong disinfectant.It can irritate the eyes and skin.
Bleach is effective at killing bacteria.It can create toxic gasses when mixed with certain chemicals.
Bleach is cheap and widely available.It can worsen asthma symptoms.
Bleach can brighten and whiten materials.It can stain non-white fabrics near the soles of shoes.

Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach. This is what kills bacteria and makes bleach a great disinfectant. Some harmful germs like influenza can survive on surfaces, including shoe soles, for up to two days. Covid-19 can live on a surface for up to 72 hours. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states it generally takes at least a minute to kill dangerous microbes with bleach. Keep that in mind before removing the solution too fast. Here are three other things the CDC recommends when using bleach:

  • Use a well-ventilated room if applying bleach indoors.
  • Never mix household bleach with other cleaners or disinfectants.
  • Wash your hands after using bleach.

 Here are the simple steps to clean white soles with bleach:

  1. Make an equal parts bleach and water solution.
  2. Dip a spare soft-bristled toothbrush in the solution.
  3. Scrub the sole.
  4. Rinse with running water.
  5. Repeat the process as necessary.

Because bleach has been known to degrade rubber and comes with more risks than some of the other products I’ll discuss, you may not want to make it your first choice. 

How Does Baking Soda Clean White Soles?

Baking soda cleans white soles because it’s a mild abrasive that can lift dirt and cause it to dissolve quickly in water. Another benefit of baking soda is that it is a common and non-toxic household item.

To clean white soles using baking soda, follow these steps:

  1. Mix ½ tablespoon (7.4 ml) of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon (14 g) of baking soda, and ½ tablespoon (7.4 ml) of warm water. 
  2. Stir until a paste is made that isn’t too watery.
  3. Rub this paste onto the shoe soles with a spare toothbrush.
  4. Leave them to dry sole-side up in direct sunlight for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove any excess dry paste.
  6. Wipe the rest off with a wet cloth and see how the soles look.
  7. Repeat the process if necessary.

Does Toothpaste Clean the White Soles on Shoes?

Toothpaste can clean the white soles on shoes. Calcium carbonate is the main ingredient that works like a mild abrasive. It helps remove stains from your teeth and make them whiter, and it can also be applied to your white shoes and soles.

Follow these five steps to clean white shoe soles with non-gel white toothpaste:

  1. Apply non-gel white toothpaste to the sole.
  2. Use a spare toothbrush to rub it in.
  3. Leave the paste on the shoe sole for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe it off with a wet rag.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.

Why Do White Soles Turn Yellow?

White soles turn yellow because they oxidize. Simply being exposed to air can cause many white objects to oxidize. However, the yellowing of white soles is accelerated by routinely picking up dirt and exposure to sunlight.

If you want to keep your white soles from oxidizing, you’ll want to keep them away from the sun when not in use and clean them regularly.

How Does Vinegar Remove Yellow Stains From White Shoes?

Vinegar removes yellow stains from white shoes because it is an acid. Acids chemically charge a stain’s molecules. This process helps stains pull away from the material to be rinsed off with water more easily.

This is why vinegar is such an effective household cleaning agent. 

Follow these steps to remove yellow stains from white shoes using white vinegar:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon (14 g) of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of hot water.
  2. Stir in a bowl until a paste is formed.
  3. Apply the paste to the shoe soles with a spare toothbrush and scrub in circles.
  4. Place them sole-side up in bright sunlight for 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Once dried, you can clap the shoes together to remove any excess dry paste.
  6. Wipe the rest of the paste off the soles with a wet rag.
  7. Repeat the process if necessary.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of techniques to clean the white soles of your shoes with common and inexpensive household items. Whether you choose bleach, baking soda, white vinegar, or toothpaste for the job, you should be able to get the job done.

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