How To Clean Vintage White Shoes

White shoes sometimes get dingy and yellow-gray when they get old, leaving shoe owners wondering how to clean vintage white shoes without making the discoloration worse. While there are many ways to get the cleaning job done, they can cause shrinking if water is involved and the vintage shoes are leather. However, inserting a shoe stretcher tool in the shoes while they dry will let you wash the shoes without causing the shoes to shrink.

Things you'll need:

  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • Two pillow cases
  • Two shoe stretcher tools
  • White shoe polish
  • Soft cotton cloth
  • One can waterproofing spray
  1. Turn on the washer so it fills with cold water. Set the washing machine to run on the gentle cycle. Add the laundry detergent.
  2. Place one shoe in each pillow case and tie the end of the pillow case shut. This gives each shoe a little extra protection.
  3. Put the encased shoes in the washing machine. Let the washing machine complete its wash cycle.
  4. Put the shoe-shaped end of the shoe stretchers into the shoes. Open the stretcher, so when the shoes dry they will maintain their shape and will not shrink.
  5. Allow the vintage white shoes to air dry. Air drying will take several hours, possibly even a full day. Remove the stretchers when the shoes are completely dry.
  6. Apply the white shoe polish, working in small swipes from the shoe's toe area, along the sides and top, and back to the heel.
  7. Buff the shoes by rubbing in small circles with the soft cloth to get a clean, even finish.
  8. Spray the shoes with waterproofing spray. Shake the can, hold it about six inches away from the shoes and mist a light coat of waterproofing spray over the vintage white shoes.
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