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How To Clean Grass Stains Off White Shoes: The Complete Guide


If you lead an active lifestyle, you’re likely going to get grass stains on your shoes somewhere along the way. White shoes are notoriously difficult to keep clean, making dealing with grass stains all the more crucial. There’s a wide variety of cleaning methods and solutions — both brand products and home concoctions — that can get your white sneakers back to pristine condition. 

Here’s how you can clean grass stains off white shoes:

  1. Clean white shoes with white vinegar.
  2. Gently scrub white shoes with dish soap.
  3. Wash white shoes with laundry detergent.
  4. Scrub and soak white shoes in isopropyl alcohol. 
  5. Clean white shoes using a baking soda mixture.
  6. Bleach clean white shoes.
  7. Clean white shoes with hydrogen peroxide.
  8. Use a stain remover product.
  9. Clean white shoes with toothpaste.
  10. Address stains right away.

Grassy sneakers are usually the sign of a good time, but it’s important to keep your shoes clean and maintained as well. Whatever cleaning method you choose, it’s important to tackle the stain as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about how to remove grass stains from white shoes, as well as a few tips on how to prevent future stains. 

How to clean grass stains off of white shoes.

Why Are Grass Stains So Hard To Get Out?

If you’ve ever tried to get grass stains out of your shoes and clothes, you know it takes the right material and sometimes a little elbow grease. As you’re scrubbing away at your sneakers, you may wonder: why are grass stains so difficult to get out? The answer, according to Treehugger, is a little green chemical called chlorophyll. 

Grass stains are so hard to get out due to the chlorophyll’s chemical nature. It makes the stain work itself into the fiber of the fabric rather than spread out across the surface. As more time passes, the naturally occurring compound will bind to the material, making the stain harder to remove.

That’s why it’s very crucial that you remove the grass stains on your white shoes as soon as possible. 

1. Clean White Shoes With White Vinegar

White vinegar diluted with water is a good place to start if you’re trying to get grass stains out of white shoes. According to Healthline, it’s a powerful cleaning agent because of its acidic nature, which allows the vinegar to eat away the stain, even if it’s bonded with the fabric (source). 

In order to avoid damaging the material of the shoe, dilute the vinegar with warm water. The ideal mixture for cleaning shoes is a 2:1 ratio, with two cups of water for every cup of white vinegar.

The risk of discoloring a white shoe isn’t as high as for colorful materials. However, properly diluting the acid in the vinegar is still beneficial. 

When you have your solution at the right ratio, apply it to the stained area. Using a toothbrush or similar tool, scrub in small, gentle circles. Rinse, dry, and repeat as needed until the stain is removed. 

2. Gently Scrub White Shoes With Dish Soap

Prior to washing your white shoes with dish soap, check it to ensure there’s no manufacturer’s warning against it. If the material of the shoe is suitable for it, dish soap can be effective in removing grass stains from white shoes. 

The Dawn Platinum Dish Soap (link to Amazon) is highly recommended by many sources for removing grass stains. Grass stains contain protein, which Dawn is designed to lift and remove. If you’re cleaning fabric sneakers with dish soap, make sure to clean the entire shoe. This will help prevent rings or spots of color variation.

Mix dish soap into one cup of warm water. With a rag, sponge, or brush, apply the solution to the stain, gradually working your way over the whole shoe. After you’ve gently scrubbed the shoes with the dish soap solution, rinse them with cold water and allow them to air dry. 

3. Wash White Shoes With Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent can be a helpful cleaning solution for dissolving grass stains. They tend to be highly concentrated, so it’s important to dilute the mixture with water before applying it to the shoe. According to Family Handyman, the solution should mix into soapy water but not into a full lather. 

Using a cloth or toothbrush, apply the solution in gentle circles to the grass strain. Be sure to wipe away any excess as you’re cleaning to help avoid discoloration spots around the area you’re cleaning. 

When the stain is removed, allow the shoes to air dry at room temperature. Avoid using a tumble dryer, as it can cause damage to the material and structure of the 

4. Scrub and Soak White Shoes in Isopropyl Alcohol

If you’re using isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, you’ll need to allow the shoes to soak.

Depending on the material of the shoe, it can be okay to soak them in undiluted isopropyl alcohol. However, for more sensitive materials, such as leather or high heels, Love to Know recommends a 3:1 ratio of alcohol to water (source). 

Allow the shoes to soak in the isopropyl alcohol for about 30 minutes. Then, using a stiff-bristled toothbrush, scrub the stained area. Soak, rinse and repeat as needed until the stain is removed. 

5. Clean White Shoes Using a Baking Soda Mixture

Baking soda is an effective and low-risk method of removing grass stains. It’s an alkaline sodium bicarbonate. This chemical compound reacts with biological protein, such as the grass staining your white shoes, and eats it away.

Both on its own and in combination with other simple ingredients, baking soda can be a powerful cleaning agent.  

The Arm & Hammer recommends combining baking soda with either hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to clean white canvas shoes (source).

Cleaning With Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide 

If you have hydrogen peroxide on hand, adding it to your baking soda cleaning solution can be beneficial, but it’s not essential. Baking soda can be effective at removing grass stains both with and without the addition of hydrogen peroxide. 

To clean with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, follow these steps:

  1. In a non-metal bowl, combine one tablespoon of baking soda with ½ tablespoon of water and ½ tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, if you have it available.
  2. Mix the ingredients until the consistency is pasty.
  3. Using a toothbrush or similar instrument, apply the paste to the stained area and scrub in small circles. 
  4. Once you thoroughly work the paste into the affected area, allow the shoes 30 minutes to dry.
  5. Once the paste is dried, clap the shoes to get rid of any excess and rinse them thoroughly with water.
  6. Use a sponge or wet rag to wipe away any remaining paste, and allow the shoes to air dry. 

Cleaning With Baking Soda and Vinegar

This chemical combination is well known for science-fair-volcano uses, but the chemical reaction caused when basic baking soda combines with acidic vinegar can be used to remove grass stains as well!

To clean with baking soda and vinegar, follow these steps:

  1. Combine equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and warm water. A tablespoon of each ingredient should suffice. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients into a paste and apply to the stained area.
  3. Using an old toothbrush or the corner of a wet rag, cover the shoes in the baking soda and vinegar paste.
  4. Set the shoes out for several hours, allowing the paste to dry in the sun.
  5. If your laces are white, you can soak them in any leftover solution after you’ve finished the shoes. 
  6. Once the paste is completely dry, clap the shoes to knock off any excess. To remove the dried paste from more intricate nooks and crannies of the shoe, gently scrub using a toothbrush or wire brush. 

6. Bleach Clean White Shoes

Whenever you’re cleaning with bleach, be sure your work area is well ventilated. Never use bleach with ammonia-based cleaning solutions, as the chemical reaction creates noxious gas.

Similarly, mixing bleach with hydrogen peroxide rapidly generates so much oxygen that it’s liable to cause an explosion. Avoid mixing household cleaners, and use extra caution when cleaning with bleach. 

When you’ve ensured the workspace is safe, combine the bleach with warm water in a 5:1 ratio, five parts water to one part bleach. This will ensure that the bleach is diluted enough not to damage the shoes. 

Using an old toothbrush, gently scrub the bleach water into the stained area, working around until you have bleached all the white components of the shoe. When this is complete, rinse the shoes with water and allow them to air dry. 

7. Clean White Shoes With Hydrogen Peroxide

In a five-gallon (22.73 L) bucket or equivalent container, combine one gallon (4.54 L) of water with one pint of hydrogen peroxide. After you’ve scrubbed the shoes, either with baking soda or another cleaning agent, soak the shoes in the diluted hydrogen peroxide. 

The Red Hanger suggests letting shoes soak in the hydrogen peroxide bath for roughly an hour before setting them on a towel to air dry. 

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Extra Durable, Shoe, Bathroom, and Shower Cleaner, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 10 CountOpens in a new tab.

8. Use a Stain Remover Product

There’s a broad array of stain-remover products on the market, ranging from roll-on sticks to stain remover spray and more. While many of the brand-name products listed so far have been manufactured for other uses, there are some solutions designed specifically to lift stains out of clothes, fabrics, and shoe materials. 

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (available on Amazon.com) is a popular, easy-to-find product specifically designed to lift stains out of clothes and fabric. It’s a simple but highly effective cleaning tool.

Simply wet the eraser and then wipe down the stained area. Repeat as needed until the stain is lifted, and then allow the shoes to air dry. 

According to the Strategist, Windex can be used to clean stained shoes. Spray the Windex cleaner onto the corner of a washrag or onto the bristles of an old toothbrush (source). 

Other spray-on cleaners, such as OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover (link to Amazon), can be effective as well. Just apply the cleaning solution to the affected area, wiping away any excess grime that’s lifted out of the material. 

9. Clean White Shoes With Toothpaste

The Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste (link to Amazon) can also be used to clean grass stains out of white sneakers. It’s made using baking soda, which reacts with the proteins in the grass to eliminate the stain. 

WikiHow warns, however, that using too much toothpaste can damage shoes (source). Depending on the brand of toothpaste and how concentrated the alkaline element is, too much toothpaste can break down the shoe’s material and the grass stain. 

Use only non-gel toothpaste to clean grass stains off of shoes. Apply a small amount of toothpaste, moisturize with warm water, and scrub the affected area with an old toothbrush. It may take a few rounds of scrubbing and rinsing, but this method should leave your white shoes looking bright and clean. 

Pro Tip: Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner (link to Amazon) is one of the best commercially-available products for cleaning shoes and giving them back that new look.

Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit Bottle Fabric Cleaner for Leather, Whites, and Nubuck SneakersOpens in a new tab.

Address Stains Right Away

If you notice a grass stain on your white shoes, it’s crucial to address it as soon as possible. As the chlorophyll in the grass has time to bond with the fibers of the shoe, the stain becomes embedded deeper, making it much more difficult to lift the stain. 

If a grass stain has been in the shoes for a long time already, you may be able to lighten it with these cleaning methods. However, there may still be some discoloration even after intense treatment, especially if the stain has been neglected for a long time. 

How To Clean Grass Stains Off White Leather Shoes

If your shoes are made of a high-end material such as leather, you’ll want to be more careful with what you use to clean them. Some soaps and detergents, while effective, can be harsh on the material underneath and cause damage to the integrity of the leather. 

A diluted vinegar solution can be a safe option for leather shoes. According to How to Clean Stuff, the ideal ratio is one part white vinegar to two parts water. Apply the solution to the stained area using a soft-bristled brush or soft rag, reducing the likelihood of scuffing up the leather while you’re cleaning off the grass stain.  

A combination of baking soda and water is another relatively low-risk cleaning solution that can help lift stains out of white leather. When cleaning stains off leather, it helps to blot with a dry rag instead of wiping, as this may cause the stain to spread across the leather. 

How To Protect White Shoes From Grass Stains

Cleaning grass stains out of white shoes can be a tiresome and repetitive task. In order to preemptively reduce the chances of getting grass stains on your white sneakers, apply stain repellent to the white components of your shoes. 

Stain repellent is typically a spray-on substance. It serves to coat the entire shoe with a thin, clear protective layer. If you’ve just cleaned your white shoes, allow them to dry before applying a stain repellent. 

This Kiwi Sneaker Protector (available on Amazon.com) can help repel water and hold off mud and grass stains. This extra step can save you from repeating the labor-intensive process of grass stain removal.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning grass stains off of white shoes can be a hassle, but with the right cleaning solution and little effort, you can restore your shoes to almost-new condition.

There are products available on the market for stain removal, or you can make your own cleaning solution using household substances. The use of a diluted solution, either with baking soda or acidic with vinegar, is among the easiest and most commonly suggested methods. 

Once you’ve got the stains out, protect your shoes with a coat of stain repellent to keep them looking fresh and clean for as long as possible. 

Marsha

I'm obsessed with cleaning (maybe to an unhealthy degree) and want to share all of my best tips and hacks with you.

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