You can clean white shoelaces in the washing machine or wash them by hand, depending on the material and your preference. You can use a normal detergent, a shoe cleaner or a magic eraser to get the stains out.
If you’re trying hard to keep your white kicks clean, you already know laces are usually the dirtiest part of your shoe. The fabric fibers gather lots of dirt from the street, and you can’t simply wipe the laces clean.
Clean laces make your sneakers look much fresher, so we wanted to let you in on all our secrets to make those whites really pop.
Check out our step-by-step guide to find out for yourself how to clean white shoelaces the easy way.
How to Clean White Shoelaces at Home
There are a couple of different methods for cleaning your white shoelaces and making them look as fresh as those kicks. But first things first, let’s talk a bit about what you need to know before washing.
Pay Attention to Materials
Before you wash your shoelaces, it’s important to know if you should do it. While normal cotton or synthetic laces are easy to wash, there are special types of laces that require extra care for cleaning.
Woolen laces, such as those in Allbirds sneakers, can be so sensitive they shouldn’t even be washed. Wool generally is a material that should be washed as little as possible and in cold water. In the case of Allbirds, you can wash the shoes but not the laces.
Another special type of shoelace is satin. Reebok’s Freestyle Hi sneakers with a satin bow, for example, have these types of laces. The satin ribbon should be washed with some mild detergent, by hand or in the machine inside a laundry bag.
The ribbons may need ironing afterward but if you’re not sure of the temperature, keep it low.
If your ribbons are silk, they’re much more sensitive than synthetic satin mixes. These types of laces should be washed by hand, with mild detergent and warm water. Only use low heat when ironing silk laces.
In the Washing Machine
If your shoelaces are a traditional cotton or synthetic mix, the easiest way to wash them is by tossing them in the machine with your washing. Here’s how to do it.
1. Remove Excess Dirt
If your shoelaces are filthy, you may want to remove some of the dirt before you put them in the machine with your clothes. You can remove mud, sand and dirt from your shoes by giving them a pre-treatment in cold water and getting out any clumps with your fingers.
2. Put Them in a Bag
Use a laundry bag to separate the laces from the rest of the clothes and to prevent them from getting tangled during the wash. If you don’t have one, you can use a pillowcase and tie it up, so the laces don’t fall out.
3. Pop Them In
You can use a normal cycle on your laces, but we recommend using cold water so that the stains don’t get stuck on the fibers.
The best thing to use is a liquid, blue detergent, especially one made for white clothing. These detergents are designed to reflect light to make your whites look whiter, so they’ll work great on your laces, too.
4. Leave Out to Dry
Take your laces out of the machine and leave them to dry, in the sunshine if possible. When they’re dry, check them to see if you’ve successfully removed all the stains. If not, you can try the next step.
If you don’t want to use a machine or don’t have access to one, here’s how to clean white shoelaces by hand.
1. Pretreat Stains and Get Them in Water
If you’ve got your laces very dirty, run some cold water on them to get some of the mud out. Find a container that’s big enough to cover the laces in water, and dip them in.
Try to pick a container you won’t use for other purposes, especially in the kitchen. You’ll be using some harsh detergents, and your shoelaces gather tons of dirt and bacteria from the street. I’ll bet you wouldn’t want either in your food.
2. Choose Your Detergent
We leave the picking of the detergent up to you, but here are your best options. Remember that many of them are extremely strong and can be tough on your hands, so it’s best to wear gloves when washing the laces.
Investing in a good shoe cleaner for washing the laces is a great option. It removes tough stains, and you can use it all over the shoes, but it won’t damage them.
Shoe cleaners are sometimes color-specific, and the best thing for white shoes is a white-specific cleaner that won’t stain your shoelaces. Just put a couple of drops into the water, and it should do the trick.
A magic eraser is another good product that not only works on your laces but also the rest of the shoe. It removes stains effectively from canvas and rubber, but you should check if it’s appropriate before using on other shoe materials. For laces, it’s usually fine. Just apply some water on the eraser and use it directly on the stains.
Some people use vinegar on their laces and leave them overnight, but it’s not ideal. Vinegar is very acidic and may weaken the more sensitive fibers, and it’s also not as effective as other products.
Bleach is very strong and may affect the fibers in the long run. However, it works well on tough stains, especially if you mix it with a machine wash detergent.
3. Move Around and Leave for a While
Move your laces around in the water with detergent, so it gets to all the fibers. Leave the laces fully submerged in the water for half an hour for the best result.
4. Use Some Force
If you still have some stubborn stains, you may want to use a brush to get them out. However, this may damage the laces a bit, depending on the material. If you need to use a little more force on the stains, try with a softer sponge.
5. Rinse and Dry
Rinse the laces well before you take them out, especially if you’re using bleach. Any leftover bleach can end up affecting the color of your shoelaces, even turning them yellow.
Leave the laces out to dry and check the result. If it didn’t work, try with another detergent until they’re spick and span.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Clean White Shoelaces With OxiClean?
You can also use OxiClean to wash your white shoelaces to replace the detergent. Just throw some in the water, move them around and let the laces soak for a while. Rinse thoroughly after about half an hour, and let dry.
What Happens if You Bleach White Shoelaces?
Nothing bad is necessarily going to happen if you bleach your white shoelaces, but it’s possible that the fibers of the laces weaken. Some types of synthetic shoelace materials can change their color slightly with bleach. This can also happen to cotton if you use too much bleach, so the key is to go easy on the whitening.
Does Bleach Destroy Rubber?
Bleach weakens rubber, so it’s ideal to avoid it when washing your shoes. You can use it on most shoelaces, but remember to use gloves and be mindful of the dosage, so they don’t turn yellow. Other parts of the shoe would be better if washed with other detergents.
The Bottom Line
As you probably noticed, learning how to clean white shoelaces is very simple. The simplest trick is to put them in the washing machine in a laundry bag. The best detergent for white shoelaces is one that’s made for white clothes because it makes them brighter.
If you’re washing your white shoelaces by hand, you have quite a lot of options. We recommend investing in a good shoe cleaner that you can use for the rest of your kicks, too. Another great option is a magic eraser, but if the stains are tough, you may need to recur to bleach or OxiClean.
Many of these options will work and get your shoelaces snowy white, but make sure you protect your hands with some gloves.