How to Clean White Shoes

How to Clean White Shoes


It happens every year: I am completely unprepared for the first hot day of spring.

In theory, I should know it’s coming—the trees are in full bloom, and it’s May, after all—but still, the unpredictability of New York weather has a way of disarming you against common logic. One day, I’m debating whether I should put my winter coat away, and the next, boom, it’s suddenly summer, and I’m not ready at all. I struggle most when it comes to seasonally appropriate footwear.

Like last week, when the temperature in New York hit 80 degrees for the first time in 236 days. Instead of waltzing outside to read in the sun, I was stuck frantically rummaging around in my closet for anything that wasn’t a) winter boots, or b) running shoes. Finally, zipped away in a storage bag, I found my white tennis shoes, the only surviving pair from last summer.

They weren’t left totally unscathed, though. Three months of summer in the city—walking all over Manhattan, stepping in questionable puddles, riding the M train, taking the ferry to the beach—had left their canvas exteriors and rubber soles smudged, dingy, and discolored.

But I had a coffee meeting to get to and, at least for now, these shoes were my only option. I quickly took to Google for a solution. One in particular kept popping up: white non-gel toothpaste. Following instructions online, I scrubbed a little bit onto the canvas and soles with an old toothbrush, wiped the toothpaste off with a cool, damp cloth, and let them dry on a sunny windowsill while I got dressed. And just like that, my tired tennis shoes were were bright, smudge-free, and ready to hit the pavement. For the first time in years, I felt just a little bit more ready for summer.

It turns out that white toothpaste can clean more than just your teeth. It’s gentle but efficient, and works as a polish in all kinds of spots around the house. Here are four more unexpected things you can do with just a little squeeze. (Remember, use sparingly—a little goes a long way.)

1. Clean the sink. Add a drop of toothpaste to a sponge and scrub it around the bowl of your bathroom sink, then rinse. It won’t kill bacteria, but it’ll shine up your sink and make your bathroom smell minty fresh.

2. Polish faucets and fixtures. Polish your chrome fixtures (or kitchen sink) with a dab of toothpaste to remove splatters and soap scum and make them look shiny and new.

3. De-fog mirrors. Swipe a little toothpaste across a mirror and wipe clean before your shower, and it’ll magically stay fog-free.

4. Remove marks from painted walls. Toothpaste is like a DIY magic eraser: Add a bit to a clean toothbrush and scrub onto any kids’ crayon marks on walls, then wipe with a damp cloth. Make sure to test this in an out-of-the-way test spot first. Note: I also tried this on a stray pen mark and it worked like a charm.

Have any clever cleaning tricks? Let us know in the comments!

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