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Why Do White Shoes Turn Yellow?

Why Do White Shoes Turn Yellow?

Shoes are important for various reasons; they help retain heat, allow us to manage greater distances without much wear and tear, and may also provide good ankle support if they’re designed to do so.

While most of us have a variety of options in different colors and styles, having white shoes is almost inevitable nowadays, especially for people who are more aware of fashion. But why do white sneakers turn yellow?

White shoes may turn yellow for a number of reasons. The most common one being that they’ve been exposed to the air over time. This is because oxidation occurs naturally. Other reasons may include sweat and dirt being soaked into the fabric.

White shoes can also turn yellow if they’re cleaned incorrectly. To make it clear, these reasons have been discussed below to help understand why shoes turn yellow and learn how to properly clean your white shoes.

Chemical Reaction Due To Exposure

Almost everyone loves wearing white shoes outdoors, but when they get dirty, they’ll need to be cleaned. After washing the shoes and of course, putting them in under the sun to dry, they naturally oxidize while being exposed to air for a long time. This eventually causes them to turn yellow due to the presence of chemical reactions.

White shoes need to be soaked properly before putting them outside to dry under the sun. A good way to get around this problem is to wrap the shoes with tissues to stop the color from changing while under the sun.

Sweat & Dirt

Sometimes we tend to wear shoes for the longest hours during the day and hardly get a chance to give them a break. Consequently, the shoes become sweaty and dirty such that even after washing them, the stains of dirt and sweat are not completely cleansed. This, in turn, causes yellow marks on the shoes. To prevent your shoes from turning yellow due to dirt and sweat, you need to wash them properly.

The Sole

The sole is the most operational part of your shoes. Perhaps this is the reason why it gets dirty more quickly than any other part of the shoe. After washing the shoes, the dirt particles may not be cleaned properly and some elements remain inside the shoe. This, in turn, causes the shoes to turn yellow while they’re being dried out.

Using Detergent

Most people tend to use the same washing detergent to clean clothes and shoes. However, the detergent used for clothes might not be the most suitable for the construction of the shoes. 

As such, shoes might still contain detergent, especially if it’s not completely cleansed. The presence of the detergent in the shoes means that they’re likely to turn yellow when they’re put under the sun to dry. That means it’s best to use designated detergents for shoes.

How To Fix Shoes That have Turned Yellow

Baking Soda

One advantage to using baking soda to whiten your shoes is that it’s very easily available and acts as an effective stain remover. Get 1 tablespoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of water. Use them to make a fine paste and use a toothbrush to smear the solution onto the stains.

Leave the shoe for 15 minutes. Then scrub the shoes carefully using gentle circular motions. Then remove all traces of baking soda by rinsing them with lukewarm water. Dry the shoes in the sun or a cool ventilated room.

Using Toothpaste

The fact that toothpaste is meant to clean yellow stains from teeth means that it can be effectively used to get rid of yellow stains on white shoes. Get a small amount of non-gel toothpaste and scrub it generously on the yellow area.

Leave the paste on the shoes for 20 minutes before washing the shoes off. However, toothpaste is a very mild cleaner so there might be chances that yellow stains will still linger. But you can clean them using the method discussed below.

Using 40 Volume Creme

Another method in which you can fix yellowish-white shoes is to apply 40 volume crème. Note that this method should be applied in clean and dry shoes. The crème is affordable and can be found at your local beauty store for as low as $5.

Use a toothbrush to apply a good layer of the 40 volume crème to the shoes and check that you’ve covered every part without leaving any empty space. Again, make sure the shoes are clean and dry before applying the crème.

Once you’re satisfied the shoes are clean and dry, get a plastic wrap that’s a little longer than your shoes. Set the shoes on the plastic wrap with the sole down. To make this easier, you might want to start at the toe of the shoe and then wrap it using plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will trap the 40 volume crème in place, and make it hold in the heat.

The next thing is to set the shoes in the sun. After wrapping the shoes, you can proceed and put them in the sun. This should bake the 40 volume crème and whiten the shoes. We recommend rotating the shoes in this step for better results.

You might want to start with the shoes facing down with soles up and then place them with the sole down after 20 minutes or so. The point behind placing the shoes in different positions is to make sure every part covered in 40 volume crème gets hit by the sun. The shoes should remain under the sun for at least 45 minutes.

Rinse and Repeat

The last step is to remove the plastic wrap from the shoes. Then use warm water and a scrub brush to carefully rinse the shoes off while gently scrubbing. Be sure not to soak the shoes with water. You should only let enough water hit the shoes to help scrub off the 40 volume crème.

Subject to how yellow your shoes were, you might need to repeat the process a couple of times until you are satisfied they’re as white as you want them.