We’ve all been there. You pull your favorite pair of sneakers out of the closet, ready to rock them for the first time in months, only to find that they’re not quite the same color they used to be. The once-pristine white soles have turned a dingy yellow, and it looks like it’s here to stay. But don’t despair—there’s still hope for your shoes! With a little elbow grease (and some common household items), you can remove that yellowing and make your shoes look good as new. Read on to learn how.
What Causes Yellowing?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to clean your shoes, it’s important to understand what causes that yellowing in the first place. Steroids found in footwear rubber degrade over time, causing a breakdown of the polymers that give rubber its strength and elasticity. This breakdown results in a loss of color, and as those polymers continue to break down, the yellowing becomes permanent.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to slow down this process and keep your shoes looking fresh. First and foremost, avoid storing your shoes in direct sunlight, as UV rays will accelerate the yellowing process. Additionally, try to keep your shoes as dry as possible; water accelerates the breakdown of rubber polymers, so if you do get your shoes wet, be sure to dry them thoroughly as soon as possible. Finally, if you’re not planning on wearing your shoes for an extended period of time (we’re talking months, not days), store them in a cool, dark place like a closet or storage bin.
The Cleaning Process
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
Now that we know what causes yellowing and how to prevent it from happening in the first place, let’s move on to cleaning those already-yellowed soles. For this process, you’ll need two things:
- hydrogen peroxide
- baking soda
Start by mixing together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda until you have a paste-like consistency. Then, using an old toothbrush (or something similar), apply the paste to the affected areas of your shoes and scrub gently until the yellow stains start to disappear. Once they’re gone, rinse off any leftover paste with cold water and allow your shoes to air dry completely before wearing them again.
- Start by removing the shoes’ laces and insoles. If the insole is glued down, carefully pry it up using a putty knife or razor blade.
- Fill a basin with warm water and add a tablespoon of laundry detergent. Gently swish the shoes around in the water until they’re evenly covered with suds.
- Use an old toothbrush (or a new one, if you’re feeling ~fancy~) to scrub the entire sole of each shoe, paying special attention to any discolored areas.
- Rinse the shoes thoroughly with warm water to remove all traces of detergent.
- Fill another basin with equal parts white vinegar and warm water and submerge the shoes for 30 minutes. The vinegar will help to brighten the soles’ color.
- Remove the shoes from the vinegar solution and rinse them off with warm water once again.
- Place the shoes outdoors in direct sunlight to dry completely (this could take a few hours).
- Re-lace your sneakers and enjoy your nearly-new kicks!
How to Prevent Shoe Soles From Yellowing
Now that you know how to clean yellowed shoe soles, it’s time to focus on preventing the problem from happening in the first place. As we mentioned earlier, storing your shoes in a cool, dark place is always a good idea, but there are a few other things you can do as well.
If you’re planning on storing your shoes for an extended period of time, consider wrapping them in acid-free tissue paper before putting them away. This will help to absorb any moisture that might cause the soles to yellow. Additionally, you can try sprinkling a little bit of baby powder on the soles before storing them; this will help to absorb any moisture and keep the soles from yellowing.
Following these simple tips will help to keep your shoes looking their best for years to come. So next time you go to pull your favorite pair out of the closet, you can be confident that they’ll still look as good as new.
Don’t let yellowed shoe soles ruin your style—with a little bit of effort (and some common household items), you can remove those stains and make your shoes look good as new! Just mix together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to form a paste, apply it to the affected areas of your shoes, and scrub gently until the stains start to disappear. Once they’re gone, rinse off any leftover paste with cold water and allow your shoes to air dry completely before wearing them again. With this simple cleaning hack, you’ll be able to keep your sneaks looking fresher for longer!