As a devout sneakerhead, you’ve probably experienced the heartache that comes with having your favourite pair of white Stan Smiths turn yellow.

Yellowing usually comes from cleaning your shoes with the incorrect product, and is unfortunately almost impossible to reverse, explains Sneaker LAB shoe care expert Cody Felix.

“At home cleaning hacks usually rely on what is readily available in your kitchen. But unlike the natural cleaning power of Sneaker LAB, these chemicals oxidise and can cause a yellow tint on your previously white shoes. Any product that leaves a soapy residue behind, requires UV light or if it utilises heat when cleaning, will rapidly increase the rate of yellowing”

Cody Felix

Sneaker LAB is the scientific authority on cleaning, caring and protecting sneakers and Felix suggests avoiding the following popular home cleaning remedies:

  • Dishwashing liquid: This is a highly abrasive solution made to cut through grease and grime. While great for those tough-to-clean dishes, this solution is a definite no for sneakers as it will damage any adhesive, prints and rubber on your sneakers. Not only will this turn those white sneakers yellow, it will also seriously shorten the lifespan of your shoes.
  • Bleach: This strong chemical relies on an oxidisation process to work and a primary culprit for turning sneakers yellow. This yellow tint usually creeps in during the drying phase after you’ve applied bleach.
  • Cornflour: This home remedy might offer a short reprieve from yellowing, but it’s only a temporary fix. “Cornflour works as a mask to cover yellow stains, but the starch will eventually fall off. The particles left behind, when in contact with water, will harden fabric and can cause yellow stains,” explains Felix.

While other “home cleaning hacks” might not turn your sneakers yellow, they’re likely to cause long term damage. Felix advises giving the following a skip:

  • Baking soda: This may be a great solution for removing tough stains, but it’s not a solution for dirty sneakers. When the baking soda dries, it causes damage to the fabric on your kicks. Felix strongly suggests that you avoid using baking soda on leather sneakers.
  • Toothpaste: Not only does this product leave a residue  on your sneakers – and one that is particularly tricky to remove, the colour reagent found in toothpaste can transfer on to your sneakers.
  • Soaking in water: Submerging your sneakers is never a good idea, as it can damage the adhesives and prints, as well as the colour bleeding out. If your sneakers do get wet, you need to make sure you thoroughly dry them out to prevent mould and bacteria build up.
  • Direct sunlight: Sunlight will do your sneakers no favour. Heat and UV light are the main drivers of oxidization – the process that turns sneakers yellow. Rather store or dry your sneakers in a cool, aerated space away from direct sunlight.

“Most chemicals or products found in the pantry will damage the fabric of your shoes or turn them yellow. This process can only be reversed by using harsh chemicals that will irreversibly damage your kicks. Instead, turn to Sneaker LAB’s range of products, which are safe for use on all fabrics and work at a microscopic level to clean, care for and protect your sneakers. It is far easier to prevent your sneakers turning yellow, than to try get them back to their original colour again. Sneaker LAB offers natural cleaning power, that works,”

says Felix