How To Clean Shoelaces

Make it a habit to clean your shoelaces. Dirt, mud, and stains can spoil the fashionable look of your costly shoes. Besides, a clean shoelace improves the appearance of your shoes by a notch.

Good To Know Facts And Trivia About Shoelaces


It is hard to pinpoint or determine the exact history of how shoelaces came to be. Data from a well-known museum in London reveal that medieval footwear uses laces. The laces pass through holes that run along the sides of the boot or shoe and then they are tied into a knot.

Popular Myth

British soldiers crawl on the ground to feel the pattern of the shoelaces of the fighters they come across. British soldiers have a horizontally lacing in a parallel manner, while troops hailing from Japan have utilized a pattern called the criss-cross. The emphasis given to British soldiers is that laces with an “X” pattern imply life or death. At night when the skies are dark, this is one way for them to find out if the soldier they encountered is a friend or a foe.

All About Shoelaces

Shoelaces are also known as shoestrings or bootlaces. They are to secure your shoes or boots. Adjusting the laces loosens or tightens the shoe opening. Loosening the laces allow the shoe to open wide for ease in inserting and removing.  Tightening allows the shoes to be in place when worn. They consist of strings or cords, finished off with aglets at both ends.

Shoelace Care

We can’t deny the fact that when our shoes get dirty, our shoelaces do too. We should clean and care for our shoelaces as much as we care for our shoes. Shoes are incomplete without them and a clean one improves the look of our shoes.

Shoelaces get dirty when we use our shoes often. They turn darker and become black when they are not cleaned often. They can also turn yellow because of persistent deposits, like dirt and sweat stains.

Cleaning your shoelaces can be quite puzzling. How it varies depending on the color, material, and how you can brighten white ones. Here are the steps and different care tips depending on the type of shoelace you have:

How To Clean White Shoelaces

White shoelaces have various durability depending on your preference. Most shoelaces are of excellent quality. They may differ in a lot of factors but they will never go out of style as they go with every pair of sportive shoes you own. Production of shoelaces is abundant, they’re seen in every mall and any local store you visit. Here are tips and tricks you can follow in cleaning your white shoelaces:

Before The Washing Process

1. Remove your shoelaces from your shoes

This may seem like an obvious step but some of you may wash your shoes with the shoelaces on. This practice can damage them in the long run. Removing them makes you clean your shoelaces better. This way you can reach all the areas and spaces. You can also focus on spots that are dirtier than the rest of the shoelaces.

2. Clean them using a dry brush first

You may use your old toothbrush at home. It is manageable and perfect for the job. After removing the shoelaces from your shoes, the first thing you do is brush them with a clean and dry brush. This way, you can remove superficial dust and dirt and clean the exterior part of the shoelace.

Manual Washing Of White Shoelaces With Bleach

If you did not know already, bleach is only used for white garments or in this case, shoelaces. It is ideal to make a personal mixture to get the best results.

  1. In a bowl or basin, place a small amount of hot water.
  2. Then, add a tad bit of bleach – a splash would do – and mix them with the ends of the toothbrush you used earlier.
  3. Let your laces soak for a couple of minutes (hard-to-remove stains may need longer soaking). Do note that you should not hold the bleach solution with your hands. This can irritate sensitive skin.
  4. Add minimal drops of laundry soap or detergent.
  5. Soak for 10 to 12 minutes
  6. After soaking, if they look clean enough for you, rinse them to remove all soap and bleach.
  7. Let your shoelaces air dry. Remember that bleach weakens the fibers of the lace. Try washing your shoelaces in a mixture of a shoe cleaner and warm water instead.

Manual Washing Of White Shoelaces Without Bleach

When washing white laces, it is ideal to place them inside a mesh bag. You then hand wash them in warm water with soap or detergent. Regular use of bleach for washing your laces can end up turning them yellow. The best and safest alternatives are toothpaste or baking soda.

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
  2. Run the shoelaces under streaming water. You can also make use of a toothbrush or shoe brush in removing any debris.
  3. You can remove bad stains or spots using a laundry detergent or a spot treatment.
  4. Put your shoelaces in a mesh bag to prevent the laces from getting tangled inside the machine.  In the absence of a mesh bag, a knotted pillowcase would be a good alternative.
  5. You can create a cleaning solution using warm water and detergent in a bucket.
  6. Submerge the entire bag with the laces into the solution from step five.
  7. Soak for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the bag from the solution and get the shoelaces in the bag.
  9. Rinse off your shoelaces. Swish them in a bucket of water or run them in streaming water.
  10. Let your shoelaces air dry.

Cleaning Your Shoelaces Using Baking Soda

  1. Make a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a glass of water.
  2. Remove the laces from your shoes.
  3. Soak them in the mixture from step 1 for 15 minutes.
  4. Squeeze the laces and rinse them in streaming water.
  5. Place an appropriate amount of dishwashing soap and rub them. In removing old stains and stuck-on dirt between the thread, use a soft brush or an old toothbrush.
  6. Rinse them in running water.
  7. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda to whiten the laces.
  8. Allow standing for 10 minutes.
  9. Rinse the laces without squeezing to prevent tearing of softened thread.
  10. Drain water drops from the laces. Hold an end of the lace and press the lace while running in down with your hand down to the other end.

Cleaning Your Shoelaces With Hydrogen Peroxide

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
  2. Mix up your soaking solution. In a cleaning bucket, pour half gallon water and add one and a half-pint of hydrogen peroxide. Mix well.
  3. Scrub stains out of the fabric. Remove surface dirt first using a dry scrub brush before getting the shoelaces wet. Remember to scrub along the lengths of the fiber otherwise, the fibers break and frizz.
  4. Soak the shoelaces. This can be overnight. Check on its progress often to avoid overexposure to the cleaning solution.
  5. Rinse out the laces. When you are happy with its appearance already, rinse them under running water.
  6. Let your shoelaces air dry.

Cleaning Your Shoelaces Using Your Washing Machine

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
  2. Remove any stuck-on grime. You can make use of a toothbrush or shoe brush in removing any debris.
  3. You can remove bad stains or spots using a laundry detergent or a spot treatment.
  4. Put your shoelaces in a mesh bag to prevent the laces from getting tangled inside the machine.
  5. Put them in your washing machine and run a regular wash cycle.
  6. Let your shoelaces air dry. Do not use the dryer because it shrinks the laces and melts the aglet.

How To Clean Colored Shoelaces

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
  2. You can brush loose dirt from the laces using your hands or a scrub brush.
  3. In a basin filled with water, add soap or laundry detergent. The water saturates the laces, while the soap loosens up the dirt from the fabric.
  4. You can use a small brush or an old toothbrush and scrub the shoelace. The aglets might crack and peel off if not handled with care.
  5. Rinse the laces with fresh water.
  6. Remember to air dry. Do not use the dryer because it shrinks the laces and melts the aglet. Wrap the ends of your shoelaces with scotch tape if the aglet gets damaged in the cleaning process.

Cleaning Stained Or Yellow Shoelaces

A simple bleach solution or simple stain remover is not enough. You need to soak your shoelaces in stronger bleach water instead.

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your shoes.
  2. You can brush loose dirt from the laces in running water with a toothbrush.
  3. Pour three tablespoons of bleach in a bowl with a gallon of hot water.
  4. Place your shoelaces in a mesh bag. You can use a small plate to keep it submerged. Remember to protect your hands and wear rubber gloves.
  5. Soak your shoelaces for five minutes. Overexposure to bleach weakens the fibers of the shoelaces
  6. Remove the shoelaces from the bleach water solution.
  7. Wash your shoelaces either by hand or by washing machine. Add a half cup of bleach to the washing machine if the laces are still too stained.

How To Clean Leather Shoelaces

  1. Remove debris from your leather shoelaces with a toothbrush or a similar small brush. Leather laces are not as absorbent as synthetic laces. They do not need handling as if they absorb dirt.
  2. In cleaning your leather shoelaces, use a bar of saddle soap and warm water. Apply the soap to the whole shaft of the leather shoelace. Soaking leather in a soap solution ruins the tan and cause discoloration
  3. Wipe it off with a damp rag.
  4. Allow drying on an old newspaper or drop cloth.

Aftercare Tips:

  • Apply natural oil. Examples include olive or coconut oil. Remember to use a clean rag.
  • Work above a drop cloth and use gloves as leather-treating oil may stain surfaces. Let the oil soak in. This particular treatment softens the leather lace and improves its appearance.
  • Allow the laces to air dry for a couple of hours.
  • Wipe off excess oil after the first hour.
  • Let the laces dry before placing them back in your shoes. This will avoid staining your shoe and damaging your laces.

Do’s And Don’ts

Do’s Don’ts
●     Clean the laces after taking them out of your shoes.

●     Clean your shoelaces often, avoid dirt and stain buildup.

●     Treat them with a fabric protector after every wash.

●     Use mesh bags when washing which avoids tangling laces.

●     Do not place your shoelaces in the dryer.

●     Do not use bleach for colored shoelaces.

●     Do not use stiff brushes.

●     Avoid overexposing your vibrant colored shoelaces in direct sunlight.


Keeping Them Fresh

If you do not have the time to wash your shoelaces often, here are some tips on how you can keep them fresh and clean:

  • Avoid going to places that are too muddy
  • If you go somewhere you know your shoes will get stained or dirty, wear laces with the darkest color. This will prevent dirt and stain from showing.
  • Keep or store your shoes away from dust.
  • Store your shoes from places where they can most likely get dirty.


Our shoelaces are the dirtiest part of our shoes. They tend to drag on the ground, get splashed with dirt, mud, and muck. Our shoelaces may contain harmful substances unseen by the naked eye, yet we hold and tie them. We wash them not only to look clean but for health precautions as well.

I recommend you wash your shoelaces often, prevent stains and dirt from building up. The longer you wait to clean them, the harder it is to get off the dirt. Our shoelaces ensure the proper fit of our shoes, thus preventing injury.

Our shoelaces are part of our daily lives. We tie them before we go to work, to school, to the mall, wherever. Since they have become vital to our daily lives, we must ensure their cleanliness.

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