How To Clean White Shoelaces Without Bleach? [Grass, Mud, Blood, & Oil Stains]

Brilliant, bright, and white! As much as we try, those vibrant, snow-colored shoelaces tend to attract dirt, grass and grime over time.

This is especially true with our ever so messy kids! However, what do you do when your son’s lucky pair of cleats are not in the right condition for game time?

No need to fret! We have some simple, easy and fast ways to clean white shoelaces and get them back to their crisp, clean appearance, without the harsh help of bleach AND just in time for him to hit the mound!

There are many effective methods to clean white shoelaces without bleach, but the best option is to use white vinegar!

Mix a 1:2 ratio of vinegar and water solution (1 part vinegar and 2 parts of water). Then, soak the laces in a  for fifteen to thirty minutes. Next, grab your preferred dish soap and scrub away! Finally, throw the laces into a mesh bag and wash them on a cold cycle with regular laundry detergent. This will whiten, brighten and disinfect your shoestrings and make them look as good as new! 

The Top 9 Tools To Rid Your Shoelaces Of Stains

The first step to attaining clean white shoelaces is determining the type of blemish and then treating it appropriately.

Thus, we highlight the top shoe stain culprits and how to handle each of them properly. 

Grass Stains

Plant-based stains can be quite a nuisance, especially with cotton fabrics. These powerful pigments tend to bind more effectively to natural materials, making removal a bit of a headache.

Thankfully, your home is already equipped with all of the tools that you will need to combat any laundry issue!

White Vinegar

Our favorite remedy is the ever-so-magical laundry solution, white vinegar! This stinky liquid does it all.

It whitens, brightens, softens, disinfects, reduces odors and pet hair, AND fights tough stains!

Moreover, it is a much more effective way to clean your white shoelaces without bleach and it is 100% natural!

The process is easy — make a mixture of one part white vinegar to two parts water. Then add a dash of your favorite dish soap and drop your shoelaces in to soak!

This normally takes at least fifteen minutes to be effective. Once the time has passed, put the laces in a mesh bag and throw them in with your next load of wash.

Ensure that this is done on the cold cycle to further break apart the stain!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another fantastic and natural laundry tool! In this case, you will create a paste to apply directly to the spots and allow it to sit for fifteen to thirty minutes.

Just combine baking soda and water at a 3:2 ratio. If you do not have baking soda on hand, then take whatever type of powder detergent is available and conduct the same process.

However, since most detergents are not as strong as sodium bicarbonate, you will do this at a 2:1 ratio.

Once the paste has done it’s work, brush off the mixture, rinse the laces and wash them on a cold cycle.


This is a product that normally includes baking soda in the ingredients so it should come as no surprise that it can also tackle pesky grass marks!

Look for the white paste variety, then grab your toothbrush and lightly scrub the affected area.

Rinse and repeat until the streaks are gone for good!

Mud Stains

Ironically enough, fighting mud and dirt marks is quite easy and you are guaranteed to have the tool that you need to wash them away! 

Dish Soap

First, remove any excess material prior to treatment and ensure that the shoelaces are dry. Next, grab the Dawn and combine it with a small amount of water.

Then, dip a cloth in the mixture and blot the stain until it is fully saturated. Finally, grab a clean toothbrush and gently scrub the blemish.

Rinse and repeat until the mud is gone!

Clean White Shoelaces Without Bleach

Blood Stains

For the true sportsman in your life, their shoe situation is likely a bit messier than a normal individual. Scabs and scrapes can lead to inadvertent blood spots on their laces. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Fortunately, if you just pour hydrogen peroxide directly over the stains, they will miraculously bubble away!

However, it is extremely important that after application, you thoroughly rinse the laces and then immediately put them in the washing machine.

With this technique, we also recommend adding a quarter cup of white vinegar to the load.

If you do not follow these additional steps, it is likely that your white shoelaces will turn yellow.

Oil Stains

For the car aficionado in your life, it can be quite easy for motor oil and gasoline to make their way onto conveniently placed footwear.

Thus, for shoelaces riddled with grease and sludge, we have a few solutions to clean those white shoelaces without bleach. 

Chalk / Baking Soda / Baby Powder

The first step in removing grease and oil is to soak it up! Your options are to sprinkle a hefty helping of baking soda or baby powder onto the stain and let it sit for fifteen minutes OR you can rub white sidewalk chalk on the affected area.

Both of these remedies will help to absorb some of the solutions.

Baby Shampoo / Dish Soap

Some good old-fashioned elbow grease is the second step for removing unwanted oils from your shoelaces.

Both baby shampoo and dish soap are fantastic grease-fighting remedies that you should have around the house.

Grab a bucket of warm water and scrub a dub dub those stains away! The final step is to throw the laces into the wash, on the hottest cycle possible, and let your washing machine do the remainder of the work!


This solution is best suited for stains that have set for a little too long. If you are someone who continuously works on cars, it seems like a fruitless effort to wash your laces every single time they get a stain.

Therefore, after letting the oils set for a period of time, grab the WD-40 and spray away! This is best done over a piece of cardboard to avoid staining other surfaces. 

This lubricant will help to loosen the grease from the fibers of the fabric. After allowing this to sit for thirty minutes, follow the aforementioned steps for removing recently acquired oil stains.

Then voila! You will be good as new!

Important Tips To Achieving Clean White Shoelaces Without Bleach

First and foremost, NEVER rub a stain! By doing this action, you are working the material further into the fabric, making your goal of removal MUCH more difficult.

Instead, dab or blot the area of concern until the spot disappears. 

If you would like to use different stain fighting methods back to back that utilizes these ingredients, make sure to rinse the fabric thoroughly in between treatments. 

Third, be careful when removing debris that is attached to the fabric. Gently scrape the material off with a butter knife and then rinse the item until the caked-on debris washes away.

When conducting the second step, you want to hold the affected apparel with the stain facing away from the flow of water.

This forces the stain out, instead of pushing it further into the fibers. 

Finally, unless battling grease stains, ALWAYS wash stained laces on a cold cycle while in a mesh bag! Keep this advice in mind when hand washing these items as well!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Shouldn’t I Use Bleach to Clean my White Shoelaces?

While advertised as the go-to solution for whitening and disinfecting fabrics, bleach is a harsh chemical that, if used incorrectly, can cause damage to certain materials.

There are much safer and extremely effective solutions available. This includes white vinegar, which not only exhibits the same whitening and disinfecting properties as bleach, but it also provides other benefits as well.

Remember to never double down on laundry solutions. White vinegar and bleach should NEVER be combined, as they will create lethal chlorine gas

Can I use these same methods for Leather Shoelaces?

No! Leather shoelaces need to be spot treated. Do not submerge them in water or put them in the washing machine as this could permanently change the coloring of the material.

In this instance, the best tools are saddle soap and baking soda to remedy stains.

Can I use Lemon Juice to clean white shoelaces?

Yes! If there are no particular stains on the fabric, lemon juice is a great tool to brighten your white shoelaces back to their former glory!

Shoelace and Juice

Just grab a cup of water and mix in two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Then take a toothbrush, gently scrub the fabric and rinse in cold water.

Finally, lay the laces in the sun! This will enhance this acid’s bleaching abilities!

What Methods are Safe for My Kids to Use?

Supervision is always recommended for when kids are involved in any cleaning process, but many of the aforementioned methods are completely safe for kids to handle!

White vinegar, toothpaste, baking soda, lemon juice, dish soap, baby shampoo, chalk, and baby powder are all simple and easy solutions.

Best of all, no gloves are necessary!

However, ensure that your kids never mix the baking soda and white vinegar. While both natural ingredients and safe when separate and together, they will create a colossal mess!

Finally, the only products that we recommend supervision with are the WD-40 and the hydrogen peroxide.

Final Thoughts

Nothing catches the eye more than a radiant pair of perfectly white sneakers! Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for that crisp look to disappear.

However, if you take the time to treat stains as they arise, you can keep your footwear looking flawless!

Moreover, make it a habit to wash your shoe strings every few weeks either by hand or in the washing machine.

No matter which method you choose, let the laces air dry for the best results.

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