White pumps are a fashion staple but, unfortunately, they often have a short life span. Many people find them too hard to keep clean and pristine, and they discard them rather than attempt to clean them. If your favorite 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.

Things You'll Need

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.

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 moisturizing soap. Do not rinse the soap off; buff with a dry cloth.

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.

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

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 labeled for vinyl, such as Lysol wipes.

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.”


  • White leather and vinyl pumps that have been cleaned but are still dingy can be revitalized 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.