How to Clean Fabric, Canvas or Mesh Shoes: White & Colored

How to safely Clean Fabric, Canvas or Mesh Shoes White & Colored
How to safely Clean Fabric, Canvas or Mesh Shoes White & Colored

The most common fabric shoes are canvas and mesh or knit shoes. Both of these will need to be cleaned either frequently or infrequently depending on how often they are worn and where they are worn.

Obviously, the dirtier they get, the more they will need to be cleaned. Canvas or mesh shoes can be hand-washed, or spot cleaned. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. 

Can you wash fabric or canvas shoes without damaging them?

Yes. You can wash fabric (canvas and/or mesh) shoes without damaging them. 

It is important that you pay attention to the material and quality of your shoes. This will determine the method you choose to wash them and the cleaning agent you use. 

Related Article: Why Shoes Smell After Getting Wet & What to Do to FixOpens in a new tab.

Can you put fabric shoes in a washing machine & dryer

It is not recommended to put fabric shoes in a washing machine or a dryer. 

Fabric shoes are made of different materials that are of different qualities and dyes. Putting them in the washer and dryer, even on gentle cycles can prove to be too much for them. The material can fade, shrink, warp, or damage. The shape of the shoe can be affected. Stitching or even glue can become loose. 

While some shoes may be able to withstand this washing method, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you are unsure. 

Related Article: 7 Hacks To Fix Smelly Shoes Overnight Without WashingOpens in a new tab.

How to Hand-Wash Canvas & Mesh Shoes 

The safest bet is to hand-wash your canvas and mesh shoes. 

What you will need:

  • Soft-bristled brushes (a regular-sized brush and a toothbrush)
  • Laundry Detergent (and a whitening agent if your shoes are white)
  • Water
  • A melamine sponge or a regular sponge
  • A Clean Cloth 
  • Newspaper or brown paper
  • Bowl

What to do:

  1. Remove the laces from the shoes and wash them separately.
  2. Use the soft brush or the toothbrush and brush off all the excess dirt from all over the shoes.
  3. Mix a small amount of the laundry detergent (and whitening agent if needed) in a bowl with some water. If you are using bleach, ensure to dilute it well enough (5 parts water to 1 part bleach). 
  4. Test patch a small area of your shoes to make sure the detergent will not damage the color.
  5. If it is safe, then dip your brush into the detergent mixture and start scrubbing around the shoes. Try to work with the grain of the material rather than against it. 
  6. You may also let the detergent mixture sit on the shoes for 15 minutes and then continue to scrub around the shoes with the brush and sponge. 
  7. Use the sponge to wipe away any scuff marks from the soles of the shoes. 
  8. Rinse the sponge in clean water and use the damp sponge to wipe away the soapy residue from the shoes. 
  9. Wipe the shoes dry with a clean cloth, stuff them with newspapers or brown paper, and place them in a well-ventilated area to air-dry. 

Note: If your canvas or mesh shoes are very dirty and they can withstand soaking, you may clean them using the brush and remove the inside soles. Then, mix a larger amount of detergent and soak the entire shoe in the mixture.

After soaking for a while, you may take them out, scrub them, and rinse them out well. Then you can place them to air-dry. However, using this method will probably take days for the shoes to dry properly.

Video: How To Clean Canvas Shoes

How to Spot Clean & Remove Stains from Canvas & Mesh Shoes

Canvas and mesh shoes can be hand-washed or spot-treated to remove stains. 

For colored shoes, you can use suitable stain removers or mild detergent and water. 

For white shoes, you can use diluted bleach, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or even toothpaste. 

Always patch-test your shoes first to make sure the cleaning agent you are using will not damage the material and/or color of the shoes. 

What you will need:

  • Detergent, Stain remover, or (bleaching agent if shoes are white)
  • Water
  • Soft-bristled Brush
  • Bowl
  • Clean Cloth
  • Newspaper or brown paper

What to do:

  1. Remove the laces from your shoes to clean separately and use the brush to brush away excess dirt and grime. 
  2. Mix your cleaning solution. For colored shoes mix a mild detergent with some water. For white shoes, you can use 5 parts water and 1 part bleach, or baking soda and water paste. 
  3. Test patch a small area of the shoes first to make sure your solution will not damage the material or the color of the shoes. 
  4. If safe, then dip your brush into the solution and apply it to the stain. Start scrubbing the stain in a circular motion. Add more of your cleaning solution if necessary. Do this on all of the stains on the shoe. 
  5. Try not to saturate the material too much. 
  6. When finished, use a clean cloth to remove as much of the cleaning residue as possible. 
  7. Stuff your shoes with newspaper or brown paper and let them air dry. 

What to Use to Clean Colored Fabric Shoes

Dyes on the fabric of shoes can be resilient during the cleaning process or they can be easily lifted. It depends on the quality and how rigorous your cleaning method is. Generally, these agents are universally safe for cleaning most colored shoes:

  1. Mild Laundry Detergent
  2. Bar of Mild Bath Soap
  3. White Vinegar
  4. Colored Shoe Cleaner or stain remover

What to Use to Clean White Fabric Shoes

  1. Bleach (well diluted)
  2. White Toothpaste
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide
  5. White Shoe Cleaner or Stain Remover

These can be used all over the shoes or as spot cleaners in the same way as described above. Also, check out some other great articles below for more detailed directions:

Tips on How Safely to Clean & Whiten Shoes with BleachOpens in a new tab. 

Cleaning Shoes with Toothpaste: All that You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab. 

Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Stains & Odor from ShoesOpens in a new tab. 

How to Clean Shoes with OxiClean – What You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab. 

6 Ways to Clean White Vans Without Turning YellowOpens in a new tab. 

Cleaning Suede Shoes with Vinegar – What You Need to KnowOpens in a new tab.


How to Clean Your Shoes in 6 Easy Steps. Nike.comOpens in a new tab. 

5 Steps for Cleaning Canvas SneakersOpens in a new tab. 

How to Clean Shoes, Including Canvas, Leather, Suede, and MoreOpens in a new tab. 

How to Clean 5 Types of Shoes ProperlyOpens in a new tab. 

Saskiya Inshanally

Saskiya Inshanally is the editor-in-chief at The HomeKeeperHub. She has years of experience researching and experimenting in a wide array of topics. Saskiya has also co-founded which is dedicated to helping individuals have better skin.

Recent Posts