How to Clean Yellow Soles

Are your shoes losing their once like-new qualities? Are you looking at your shoes, wondering how to clean yellow soles? When soles are new, they have perfect soles. Over time, it is natural for them to turn yellow for many reasons. However, you can make them look new again using a few different methods! 

How to Clean Yellow Soles

Your soles have turned yellow, and now you’re looking for a method that works to clean those yellow soles. There are a few methods out there that will make your shoes look new. 

In the process, you may get off some of the bacteria on the soles of your shoes, too. According to a study done by Arizona State University, shoes are even dirtier than toilet seats.

Sneakers with yellow soles

Use Baking Soda (and Hydrogen Peroxide If You Have It!)

You can use common household items to clean your yellowed soles. Baking soda has been used as a cleaning agent, especially when mixed with hydrogen peroxide.

Baking Soda Only 

Only have baking soda around the house? No problem. First of all, make sure you have at least an old toothbrush sitting around that you can use for cleaning shoes. Make sure it’s one that will never be used for brushing teeth again! 

Otherwise, you could try using a paper towel or napkin, but a brush with soft bristles will work much better. Then, simply follow these steps:

  1. Mix the baking soda with water using double the amount of baking soda to water
  2. Use the brush to scrub the yellow soles
  3. Rinse the soles
  4. Observe the result in good lighting
  5. Repeat as needed
  6. Dry by a vent or under the sun covered with tissues

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

This mixture will be more powerful than the baking soda only. If you have both household items around and a soft-bristled brush, follow these steps to clean your shoes:

  1. Create a mixture using two parts baking soda to one part Hydrogen Peroxide and one part water
  2. Use the brush to scrub the yellow soles
  3. Rinse the soles
  4. Observe the result in good lighting 
  5. Repeat as needed
  6. Dry by a vent or under the sun covered with tissues

Clean Yellow Soles with Toothpaste

Do you have whitening toothpaste around? You can use that to clean your yellow soles! Ideally, the whitening toothpaste would be white and not a gel. Otherwise, it may leave some stains or not work as efficiently. 

Toothpaste

Toothpaste isn’t for stains that are set in deep or tough stains, but it will work in a pinch on newer stains. To use this method, follow these steps:

  1. Use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush
  2. Use the same method you would as brushing your teeth—wet the brush, and start scrubbing
  3. When you are done scrubbing, rinse the shoe off completely
  4. Leave to dry by a vent or under the sun (covered with tissues!)

Clean Yellow Soles with a Magic Eraser

A magic eraser doesn’t only clean bathtubs and counters. You can use that same magic eraser on those yellow soles. For this method, follow the instructions on the magic eraser. Often, all you have to do is wet the magic eraser, squeeze, and scrub. It will do its magic in no time! 

Clean Yellow Soles with a Shoe Whitener

If none of these methods work for you and you’re looking for something guaranteed, you may search for a shoe whitener. There are products out there that can work to help restore your yellow soles back to white. 

If you follow this method, pick a shoe whitener and purchase it. Make sure to read all of the instructions thoroughly before you begin. Follow all the instructions, and you should have restored white soles when you are complete. 

Clean Yellow Soles with Bleach

While bleach is definitely a quick way to get your yellow shoes white again, it actually contains some yellow in it. This means if it is improperly cleaned (even by accident), yellowing will speed up. 

If all other methods fail, you can use bleach. We suggest for longevity to try the other methods first. Only use this as a last resort!

If you must use bleach, make sure to:

  1. Wear gloves
  2. Create a 1:1 ratio of bleach and water
  3. Use a soft brush to scrub the shoe using your bleach-water
  4. Rinse extremely thoroughly immediately after—use a different soft brush to scrub the mixture off
  5. Repeat if needed
  6. Dry by a vent or in the sun covered with tissues
Person holding a spray of bleach to clean yellow soles

Bleach is extremely effective at removing yellow from white shoes! There are times where this may be necessary. Using the method above, you should be able to get the best results without sacrificing your shoe to a future of quick yellowing. 

How Not To Clean Yellow Soles

While the methods we mentioned are the best way to clean yellow shoes, there are methods we do not recommend. Some methods can cause problems down the road, such as continued (and increasingly fast) yellowing. 

Do Not Clean Yellow Soles with Laundry Detergent

You may be tempted to throw your shoes in the wash using laundry detergent. We do not recommend this method for white shoes for a few reasons:

  • Your shoes might not be made to withstand the washing machine, causing damage to the shoe
  • If the detergent is not thoroughly washed off, it can cause the shoes to yellow further

Detergent can actually be a cause of why your shoes are yellow. If you keep throwing them in the wash, they may look good for a while but quickly return to their yellowed state. 

For other color shoes, this is a proven way to get rid of the bacteria. Washing shoes with detergent can help cut down on the transfer rate from shoes to tile. 

The shoe to tile or hardwood floor transfer rate is an alarming 90 to 99 percent! It is even more on carpets. So, while we don’t suggest it for white shoes, feel free to do it for other colored shoes that are machine washable. 

Why Do Soles Turn Yellow?

Have you cleaned your shoes thoroughly and now want to know why they yellow in the first place? There are a few reasons white shoes turn yellow over time. 

The Sun

The sun can cause a chemical reaction called oxidization that causes shoes to turn from white to yellow, especially after a wash. If you leave your newly white shoes out to dry in the sun, you should cover them with tissues. Otherwise, you may come out to some yellow shoes and have to start the process all over! 

Dirty shoes

The sun will naturally cause yellow discoloration over time, but leaving wet white shoes to dry in the sun unprotected is a sure way to speed that process up. 

Dirt

Repeatedly stepping in the dirt will not only make your shoes dirty, but it can leave discoloration even after the dirt is wiped off. White soles turning yellow from dirt happens naturally over time and can’t be fully avoided. 

Leftover Detergent or Bleach

If any detergent or bleach is left on the shoe, the shoes will turn yellow quickly all over again. This is why we don’t recommend this method unless it’s a last resort. If you do need to use bleach or detergent, make sure to cleanse it off the shoe as best as possible. 

How Can You Prevent Yellow Soles?

White is the cleanest looking color, but it’s also easily dirtied. Keeping them looking like new is important to many people, especially when they are some of your favorite shoes! 

Don’t Wear White Shoes in the Mud

Okay, so this one may be unrealistic. Many people don’t intentionally step in bird poop covered concrete with their white shoes. However, if you know you’re going to a place where your shoes will get dirty, maybe leave those pearly whites in your closet. 

Clean Your Shoes As Soon As Possible

The dirt residue that causes the yellowing of shoes gets worse over time. Especially if dirt is left on there for a long time. So, when you inevitably step in some mud with your white shoes on, make sure to clean it at your earliest convenience. This will at least cut down on the time you spend re-whitening your soles. 

Regularly Clean Your Shoes

To avoid the long process of whitening shoes, you should clean your shoes regularly. This does not have to take a long time. You could simply make sure the dirt is removed after you get home and take them off.

If you happen to notice them yellowing slightly, do a quick version of the whitening process. This may seem tedious, but it will certainly help cut down your time in the long run! 

Conclusion

When you see your white soles yellowing, don’t worry! It is a natural thing to happen and is easy to clean. Once you have found the method that works for you, make sure to dry them by a vent, in your clean Azek decking, or out in the sun covered with tissues. 

After your soles are clean and white again, try to keep up with maintenance, and you won’t need to worry about how to clean yellow soles anymore.