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How to remove black marks from white leather shoes

Updated February 16, 2017

Crisp and clean white leather shoes are the ultimate springtime footwear for linen suits and floral dresses. However, if you discover your white leather shoes have black marks on them, you will need a simple home remedy to clean your shoes in a hurry. Whether your shoes are off-white or pure white, common household products will easily remove the dirt and grime from your favourite sandals, oxfords or flats.

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  1. Wipe surface dirt from shoes. Fill a small basin with warm water and a teaspoon of mild dish soap. Dip the tip of the small white cloth in the soapy mixture. Clean the entire shoe with the rag. Wipe the shoes dry with another clean cloth; let dry.

  2. Clean shoes with baking soda paste. Mix 2 tbsp baking soda with 1 tsp warm water. Apply this paste to the black marks with a clean cloth. Gently rub the mixture into the white leather shoes, using a circular motion, until the shoe surface is covered, according to the experts at Good Housekeeping magazine.

  3. Wipe shoes clean. Remove any baking soda residue with warm water. Wipe off shoes with a damp cloth without soap. Let dry for five minutes.

  4. If a few black marks remain, apply white toothpaste to the leather. Whitening toothpaste that is gentle for tooth enamel will lift the black marks without damaging the white leather.

  5. Condition leather shoes after cleaning. Moisturise the leather with a white shoe cream for leather shoes. Apply a clear paste polish to condition and prevent darkening of the white leather. Buff shoes with a soft-bristled brush for additional shine.

  6. Tip

    If the black marks on your leather shoes include a layer of mud or dirt, use a premoistened leather wipe to remove the dirt.


    Avoid harsh chemicals like acetone nail polish remover or harsh detergents like Borax, Comet or Ajax to remove black marks from leather shoes. These chemicals may discolour the leather without removing the black marks.

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Things You'll Need

  • Small white rags or old white T-shirts
  • Mild dish soap
  • White toothpaste
  • Warm water
  • Small basin
  • Premoistened leather wipes
  • Small bristled brush

About the Author

Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in NewsOK.com and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.

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