Which is the Best Way to Clean White Shoe Laces?

Which is the Best Way to Clean White Shoe Laces?Plenty of shoes feature white laces, and that’s not surprising. Shoe manufacturers like them because they’re cheaper to make, as they don’t have to spend more for extra colors. In addition, white tends to go well with just about any shoe color combination. Even if you’re sporting an all-black shoe, white laces won’t have to look out of place. You can even feature interesting ways to lace them.

The downside to all that whiteness is that the dirt on them becomes easier to see. They can get a bit grungy over time. Whenever you accidentally have your laces untied you can step on them and they can really look disgusting.

Sometimes even when you’re super careful the white laces can get dirty anyway. There have been reports of how the color on your sneakers can transfer to the laces. The metal sockets in the eyelets can stain, and transfer some grime to the pristine white laces.

Thus if you’re using white laces, part of your responsibility as the owner is to clean these laces at least every now and then. So how do you clean them? There are several methods you can try:

Use Bleach and Your Dishwasher

Bleach can work to keep your white laces white. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Put in about 3 tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water.
  2. Find a lingerie bag and place your white laces inside. A white pillow case works if you don’t have a lingerie bag, but then you won’t be able to see the shoelaces inside. The point of the bag is to keep the laces from getting snagged in the washing machine.
  3. Place the lingerie bag into the bleach solution. If the bag floats, use a stone (or a plate that’s dishwasher safe) to weigh it down.
  4. Leave the bag soaking for about 5 minutes. Use a spoon (that’s also dishwasher-safe) to stir the solution every now and then. Absolutely keep the bleach solution away from your hands as it can cause skin irritation.
  5. Once the 5 minutes are done, take out the bag and then take the laces out of the bag.
  6. Place the laces inside the washing machine. You may as well use the occasion to wash any of your other white items.
  7. Put in the washing machine’s recommended amount of laundry detergent, along with about half a cup of bleach.
  8. Wash the laces with hot water.

If you can see through the bag, you will notice if the bleach is working. The bleach should be safe enough to use for cotton and polyester laces.

Just don’t leave the bleach on the laces for too long, or else you’ll end up with yellow laces instead. You shouldn’t use bleach too often either, as the fiber in the laces can get damaged as a result. This method doesn’t work with white leather laces though.

Here’s a video outlining this process (steps maybe a little different from the ones listed here)

Alternatives to Bleach

You shouldn’t use bleach too often, so what are the alternatives?

  • You can use a special paste that you need to make first. To make this paste, add 6 tablespoons of baking soda to 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the paste and then dry the laces in the sun before you rinse them and dry them again.
  • You can soak the shoe laces in a gallon of water mixed with half a pint of hydrogen peroxide.
  • What if you don’t have hydrogen peroxide? If that’s the case, you can rub the laces with just baking soda instead. Wait about 1o minutes before you rinse the laces.
  • You can also just use hot water along with some stain remover.

Using Soapy Water

Even when you do have bleach, you can use the bleach solution only infrequently. So at other times, you can also just use soapy water. The same steps are used as with the bleach process, except you don’t use the bleach.

You can also just soak the laces in warm water first, and then just hold them in one hand while you use a bar of soap to scrub of the grime. Soak the laces again, and afterwards just wash them in the washing machine with regular detergent.

This method isn’t as powerful in getting your laces white again, but at least it doesn’t damage the fabrics. For mild dirt, it’s the better option.

To demonstrate the use of soapy water to clean your safety shoe laces, here is a video.

Using a Stain Stick

You can use a stain stick to pre-treat your laces when you you’ve splattered soda or coffee all over your laces. The stain stick can even work after the bleach process. The bonus advantage here is that you won’t even need to take out the laces from the shoes to clean them.

This isn’t a perfect solution, but it works if you’re in a hurry. The shoelaces, however, may show some uneven discoloration. Also, the stain stick can cause the colors on your shoes to bleed.

What about White Leather Laces?

You can find these laces on boat shoes and other types of casual footwear. The problem with leather is that the material doesn’t absorb as well as polyester and cotton. That also means it doesn’t really get as dirty. So you can first try cleaning it by brushing it first with a worn toothbrush.

If there’s still some stubborn dirt after that, wipe the laces down with a washcloth that’s been soaked in a solution of saddle soap and water. Let the laces dry completely, and then restore the sheen of the leather by applying some coconut or olive oil. Let the laces then air dry again afterwards for a few hours.

What about suede? These tend to get dirty very easily. Your best bet is to just have lots of suede laces handy, so you can just replace them as needed.

Additional Tips

  • You can clean the laces more effectively if you take them out of the shoes first.
  • Cleaning shoelaces frequently is a good thing (with warm water and no bleach). That’s because if you don’t let the stains set, they’re easier to remove.
  • Don’t place the laces in the dryer. The dryer can shrink the laces or even damage the tips. Just hang them up to air dry instead or even dry them under the sun.
  • Don’t use extreme heat to dry the laces either. While air drying can take 3 hours, using a hair dryer can damage the lace material.
  • When you’re done cleaning the laces, treat them with a fabric protector afterwards so later on they’re more resistant to spills and stains.
  • Sometimes the lace tips (known as aglets, FYI) are too dirty. You can just replace these tips with clear heat shrink tubing.
  • What if the white laces are still dirty? While you can buy replacement white laces, don’t throw your old laces away. Maybe you can dye them a different color!


Don’t say that these laces are cheap and easily replaced. It can cost you more when you have lots of shoes with white laces, and it will matter if you have to buy lots of these laces too frequently. Besides, think of the germs that transfer to your hands whenever you have to tie these dirty laces.

The crux of the matter is that when you clean your white laces, they look better. You save money, and you also avoid germs. So learn how to clean your white laces the right way.