what is reverse oxidation and how to treat it

What Is Reverse Oxidation and How To Treat It

We’ve all had that moment, no matter how much we love our shoes. It can happen to the best of us: you wear your favourite pair of white sneakers, and they start to turn a yellowish hue. We know that we should treat stains right away, but yellow soles are not treated with a simple shoe wash. You might think it’s time to throw them away, but there’s usually a way to reverse this process—and it doesn’t involve throwing them out at all!

In this article, we’ll explain reverse oxidation and how it happens (spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with actual oxidation). Then we’ll talk about how to treat yellow soles through reverse oxidation, so your sneakers don’t look like they’re about 25 years old after only a few months of wear. Finally, we’ll share some tips on how to prevent this from happening again.

Why Do White Shoes Turn Yellow?

reverse oxidation sole whitening

Like most people, you’ve probably owned a pair of white shoes at some point. Whether it was a pair of Jordans or some classic white Converse, the chances are that they didn’t stay looking pristine for very long. With so many reasons to clean your shoes regularly, you might be wondering what exactly causes the yellowing effect on your beloved footwear and how you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

The answer is oxidation—the same process that causes wood to turn brown after exposure to oxygen (also known as “aging”). When this happens with clothes or other materials made from organic dyes, such as cotton fabric dyed with indigo dye, they become discoloured over time due to exposure to air particles containing oxygen molecules.

Sometimes this discolouration results in a beautiful patina that adds character to the garment. However, when it happens with white Converse sneakers or other items made from synthetic materials, it’s more likely to look like an ugly stain. This is because these materials don’t contain organic dyes, so they won’t oxidize on their own once exposed to oxygen. Instead, the discolouration comes from a reaction between chemicals in the rubber or plastic and air particles containing oxygen molecules.

As the air particles come into contact with chemicals on the surface of a shoe, they combine to form new compounds. These new compounds are usually darker than either component and can cause discolouration and an unpleasant odour.

But how do you get rid of the yellowing caused by this process? This is where reverse oxidation comes in. This treatment is included in our Standard Shoe Restoration package.

What Is Reverse Oxidation?

why do white shoes turn yellow

Reverse oxidation is a process that removes yellowing from the soles of your shoes. It is not a physical process; it’s a chemical process; therefore, it’s not a dye!

Reverse oxidation occurs when you mix an oxidizing agent with a reducing agent. The oxidizing agent is a chemical that causes oxidation, and the reduction process removes the yellowing from your shoes. This process usually involves using a chemical agent, such as bleach, to break down the compounds that have formed on the shoe’s surface.

There are a few different ways to achieve this, but the most common method is to soak the shoes in a solution of bleach and water. The ratio of bleach to water will vary depending on the severity of the discolouration, but a 1:1 ratio is usually sufficient.

After soaking for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, the shoes should be rinsed with clean water and allowed to air dry. In most cases, this will remove the yellowing and restore the shoes to their original color.

If the discoloration is especially severe, you may need to repeat this process a few times or use a more robust bleach solution. You can also try using other household chemicals like vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Just be sure to test them on an inconspicuous shoe area first to ensure they won’t damage the material.

Although many chemical solutions claim to remove yellowing from your shoes, most of them are not safe or effective. Some can damage the shoe’s leather material and cause further discolouration. This is why Shoewash Supreme offers reverse oxidation to treat your shoes. This process is safe, effective, and guaranteed to remove the yellowing from your shoes. To maintain your shoes pristine condition, check out our other shoe cleaning services.

How To Treat Yellow Soles Through Reverse Oxidation

shoe care supplies

There are multiple ways to reverse oxidize your shoes, but the most effective method is to use a solution of sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • To create this solution, mix 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Then, use a sponge, brush, or cloth to apply the mixture to the affected areas of your shoes.
  • Allow the shoes to soak in the solution for 30 minutes before rinsing them with clean water. You may need to repeat this process several times to remove all the discoloration.
  • After cleaning, let the shoes dry for a few hours before applying clear shoe polish. Repeat this process at least once per week to maintain the white soles.
  • Once the shoes are back to their original color, apply a protectant spray or cream to help prevent oxidation from happening again.
  • You can also store your shoes in a cool, dry place when you’re not wearing them to reduce the risk of oxidation further.

Sometimes shoes discolor due to our sweat. Sweat is high in salt and other minerals, which can cause colors to run or fade when mixed with the dyes in shoes. If your shoes are starting to look too yellow, try cleaning them with a mixture of baking soda and water. This will help remove any built-up sweat and salt, restoring the shoes to their original color.

If you don’t want to use bleach or other harsh chemicals, there are a few natural alternatives you can try. One is to soak your shoes in a solution of one part lemon juice and two parts water. After soaking for about 30 minutes, rinse the shoes with clean water and allow them to air dry.

You can also try using a paste from equal parts baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the affected areas of your shoes and scrub gently with a toothbrush. Rinse the shoes with clean water and let them air dry.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can try using whitening toothpaste. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a toothbrush and scrub the affected areas of your shoes. Rinse the shoes with clean water and let them air dry.

While reverse oxidation works well for many people, it is essential to note that it can also be potentially damaging if you’re doing it at home. Any loose pieces of rubber on the sole of your shoe may become dislodged while using this method and end up floating around in your washing machine and causing issues with other clothes.

Additionally, the process can take a few hours to days to complete depending on how long your shoes were yellowed in the first place. If you want an easier alternative method for cleaning your yellowed soles and don’t mind spending money on a product specifically designed for this purpose, Shoewash Supreme offers reverse oxidation as an option for those who want added convenience or faster results. See an overview of our services to see how we can help you rejuvenate your favourite kicks today!

How To Prevent Your Shoes From Turning Yellow Again

preventing reverse oxidation

You can do a few things to prevent your shoes from turning yellow again in the future:

  • First off, be sure not to wear the same pair of shoes every day—that’s why they recommend having three or more pairs of different types! You should also avoid wearing white socks with dark shoes and opt for a darker color. Wearing black socks will help your shoes stay looking new longer.
  • On top of that, you can also try cleaning your shoes with a damp cloth and white vinegar. This will help remove any stains or dirt that may have accumulated during wear. If you’re looking for a more thorough cleaning, consider using a leather cleaner instead of regular soap or detergent.
  • Often, yellowing also occurs due to exposure to the sun. If you’re wearing your shoes outside, try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. You can also consider using a conditioner or polish with UV protection to keep your shoes looking new for longer.
  • Finally, you can treat your shoes with a waterproofing solution before wearing them outside. This will help prevent water from soaking in and staining the leather.


preventing yellow soles

Reverse oxidation is a brilliant way to revive old shoes and make them look new. You can quickly treat your shoes at home with a few simple household ingredients. However, it’s important to note that this method can be time-consuming and may not work for everyone. If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, you can try Shoewash Supreme’s reverse oxidation treatment. Whichever method you choose, be sure to take proper care of your shoes to prevent them from turning yellow again.


What are the benefits of reverse oxidation?

The main benefit of reverse oxidation is that it will make your shoes look new. It can also strengthen the leather and prevent future fading.

Will I be able to get rid of stains from my suede shoes using this method?

Yes! This method works for all types of leather, including suede.

Will reverse oxidation make my shoes waterproof?

No, it won’t. However, it might prevent future water damage if you regularly take care of your shoes.

What should I do if the leather is too dry or stiff afterward?

If this happens, apply some cream or wax to soften the leather again. It’s also a good idea to condition your shoes regularly to prevent dryness in the first place.

How many applications will it take until I can see the results?

It depends on the condition of your shoes and how often you apply the cream or wax. If your shoes are awful, you might need about 5-6 applications for them to look new again. If your shoes are in good condition, it might only take 2-3 applications. Please note that this is a rough estimate and may vary depending on the material of your shoes.

Tags: shoe cleaning

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