There’s not many better things for a cyclist then getting new shoes, aside from maybe a new bike! That fresh look, so clean and bright. That feeling doesn't last for long though, the shine quickly disappears and those vibrant tones in your new crystal white shoes turn a funny brownish yellow colour.
It’s worth noting that your white shoes will never be as clean and fresh as the day you bought them… But… you could possibly use a few tricks along the way that may help them retain their sparkle for as long as possible.
Here’s a few of the favourites we've unearthed, but it's totally up to you if you want to try any of them out.
This method takes commitment from the start. Baby wipes are exceptional at getting gunk off things… think about their intended function. So as soon as you get back from your ride, take one baby wipe per shoe, and give them a good going over removing anything you can see. This method will keep the shoes clean without exposing them to excess moisture.
This is a two part process and may cause your friends to think you have a serious case of OCD. Again, this is best done as soon as you finish your ride, although can be left until after you’ve had a coffee and uploaded your ride onto Strava.
First step is to keep the toothbrush dry and go over the whole shoe removing any dirt and breaking up any harder substances. After that put the toothbrush into hot water, shake off the excess and start going over the shoe, removing anything that shouldn't be there. If your shoes are especially dirty you can add in some detergent or other cleaning product, but be very careful it is not to acidic or abrasive as it could cause more harm than good. 99% of the time hot water will do the trick.
The first two options take a little bit of elbow grease and manual labour. So if you can’t be bothered with that, these next two options are for you. The washing machine… let it do the work. Before putting your shoes in the washing machine, put them in some pillow cases or care bags, to prevent damage to your machine. Also best to put some thick towels in there so the noise levels don’t become overwhelming. Special note - Put the machine onto the delicate cycle!
The washing machine can be quite harsh and after all, there’s no point your shoes being their whitest if the straps and boas on them are broken! The dishwasher is a far more delicate option. The shoes won’t get thrown around, instead they will stay still and gently be cleaned. Before placing the shoes in the dishwasher be sure to remove the cleats, and inner sole. The inner sole can go in separately, but the cleats are a big no no.
This is a key component of keeping your shoes white, and especially important given the above two points. Shoes need to be dry to avoid going that terrible off yellow colour. They also need to dry evenly from the inside. So avoid putting your shoes in front of the heater or drying them from a source that is limited in its scope. The midday sun is perfect.
Another hot tip when drying out your shoes is to put some newspaper in there. The inside needs to be dry as well, so whilst your shoes are sitting in the sun drying on the outside, insert some newspape to help absorb any moisture, which should also prevent the stitching and any seems turning brown or yellow.
The easiest way to keep white shoes clean and fresh is to keep them covered. Either a traditional Belgian Bootie, or the myriad of other options to cover them from the elements. In winter this is almost a given, but for those in-between seasons, this is a potential option on iffy weather days.
This option unfortunately has a pretty big con and a pretty big pro…
The CON is that if they shoes are covered, no one can see them, so what’s the point in having some shiny white shoes? The PRO is that they will indeed stay shiny and white.
Have a second pair
We all know the rule regarding the number of bikes you should own. N+1… while this doesn't necessarily apply to everything else associated with cycling, it almost could. If you have limitations as to when you can ride, then there is a strong likelihood you will inevitably ride in the rain or poor conditions. So why not spend $100 on a pair of entry level shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty? Get them in black or dark grey and save your pristine pair for when the sun is out.
Learn to read the weather
A weather app should be a cyclist’s second best friend, next to chamois cream. Being able to read the weather and prepare for what might come is crucial. Packing a gilet, jacket, warmers, are all elements associated with riding in changing weather conditions. And if you want to keep your shoes white, then this applies as well. If it looks like rain may soon fall, or it has rained in the last few hours, then booties may be the way to go, or referring back to the above point about having a second pair (it might be a case of putting on the old pair and being better safe than sorry).