How to Clean White Pumps

Written by j.e. cornett
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How to Clean White Pumps
(Leonard MC Lane/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

White pumps are a fashion staple but, unfortunately, they often have a short lifespan. Many people find them too hard to keep clean and pristine, and they discard them rather than attempt to clean them. If your favourite pair of white pumps is looking dingy or scuffed, don't throw them out just yet. There is a cleaning method for almost any type of white pump, whether it's leather, suede or a man-made material.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Saddle soap
  • Soft cloths
  • Moisturising soap
  • Suede brush
  • White or tan art gum eraser
  • Household cleaner labelled for use on vinyl
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spray fabric cleaner

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine the material from which your white pumps are made. Different shoe materials require different cleaning methods. Patent leather, for instance, is an especially important distinction to make--patent leather that's actually leather versus patent "leather" vinyl.

  2. 2

    Clean white leather pumps using one of two cleaning methods: saddle soap, used as directed; or with a barely damp cloth rubbed over a bar of moisturising soap. Do not rinse the soap off; buff with a dry cloth.

  3. 3

    Brush white suede pumps with a suede brush to remove surface dust and dirt. Use a white or tan art gum eraser to remove stains. Brush again to raise the nap. Take care when cleaning white suede pumps not to soak suede with any liquid, which can further stain the shoes.

  4. 4

    Clean white man-made/vinyl shoes with a household cleaner labelled for use with vinyl.

  5. 5

    Clean genuine patent leather pumps gently; Real Simple's Michelle Madhok recommends wiping with a damp cloth, then using vegetable oil to remove scuffs. Vinyl patent leather can be cleaned using a household cleaner labelled for vinyl, such as Lysol wipes.

  6. 6

    Clean white fabric shoes carefully--over-wetting them can stain the fabric or cause it to lose shape and break down. Heloise recommends cleaning white fabric shoes by spraying "with a mild spray fabric cleaner. Allow the cleaner to dry to a powder, then brush it off."

Tips and warnings

  • White leather and vinyl pumps that have been cleaned but are still dingy can be revitalised with a coat of white shoe polish.
  • Protect white fabric and suede shoes with a coat of stain and water repellent. Apply when shoes are new for best results; clean and re-treat shoes according to label instructions.
  • Wearing white pumps with dark jeans or dark fabrics that may bleed should be avoided, as dyes can transfer to your pumps, staining them permanently.
  • Do not, if at all possible, wear white leather, suede or fabric shoes in wet conditions, as exposure to water can stain or discolour these materials permanently.

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