White cloth shoes are typically made from hemp or cotton and usually cleaned by hand, as washing them by machine can damage the fabric. The shoes are cleaned primarily with a toothbrush and mild detergent, with a bit of baking soda or shoe polish used when needed.
- Prepare the shoes
Place a few sheets of newspaper onto the floor or another flat surface. Hold the shoes above the newspaper, and strike the soles together to knock off any loose dirt or debris. Wipe the shoes with a damp cloth to remove caked-on dirt, and then remove the laces from the shoes. Laces can be washed separately in a washing machine.
- Wash the shoes
Rinse the shoes with warm water both inside and out to soften up any embedded dirt. Create a cleaning solution by mixing mild detergent with water until it becomes sudsy. Scrub the shoes inside and out with the cleaning solution using a toothbrush. Use the toothbrush to remove any dirt from the soles of the shoes as well. Scrub the liner inside the shoe to remove odors. Rinse the shoes with clean water.
- Remove any stains
Scrub any stained areas remaining on the shoes gently with a nylon scrub brush, using the cleaning solution until the stains disappear. Rinse the shoes again with clean water to remove the soap.
- Remove lingering odors
Scrub the liner with the toothbrush, using a paste consisting of baking soda and water mixed to the consistency of toothpaste. This removes any lingering odors. Rinse the shoes again.
- Dry the cloth
Stuff the inside of the shoes with crumpled brown paper bags, towels or white typing paper. Allow the shoes to dry away from any direct heat source, such as a heater or fireplace.
- Cover persistent stains
Check the cloth for any hard to clean stains. Cover the stains with white liquid shoe polish.