How to wash slippers

washed slippers drying on the line

No matter whether you favour sheepskin mules, terry cloth sliders or suede moccasin slippers, the secret to keeping your indoor footwear looking, feeling and smelling their best is regular cleaning. However, with such a wide range of materials used to make both men’s and women’s slippers, all with different washing and care instructions, this can be easier said than done.

To help ensure your slippers stand the test of time, we’ve put together this handy guide that tells you everything you need to know when it comes to different washing methods and cleaning slippers of all kinds.

Can you put slippers in the washing machine? 

The short answer is that it completely depends on what your slippers are made from. Slippers made from terry cloth, cotton and synthetic velour-like fabrics, for example, can be washed in a machine, just as long as you use cold or warm water on a gentle cycle.

On the other hand, slippers made from materials like leather, suede, sheepskin and velvet should not be machine-washed. This is because these materials can be easily damaged or even shrink when subjected to this form of washing, and some could damage the drum of your machine. As we will discuss later on, these types of slippers should be spot cleaned and hand washed where possible. 

It’s also essential to note that, even when your slippers are made from terry cloth, cotton or other ‘machine-safe’ fabrics, if these indoor shoes also feature a rubber outsole or faux fur lining, they should not be cleaned in the machine. With this in mind, it’s important to always check the care label that comes with your slippers when you purchase them, as this should recommend the best form of washing.

Can you put slippers with rubber soles in the dryer? 

Slippers with rubber soles should not be put in a tumble dryer. This is because the heat generated inside a tumbler can cause non-skid rubber soles to crack, separate and even melt. This can ruin your slippers and may cause damage to your tumble dryer. 

How to clean leather slippers

As mentioned above, leather slippers should never be machine-washed. This means when it’s time for a refresh, they will need to be cleaned by hand. To do this, follow the simple steps below.  Using a slightly damp cloth, wipe down the entire surface of your slippers. This will remove any excess dirt and debris.

1.       Wipe down Using a slightly damp cloth, wipe down the entire surface of your slippers. This will remove any excess dirt and debris.

2.      Clean with saddle soap After mixing warm water and saddle soap in a bowl, dip a clean cloth in the solution and thoroughly wring it out until it only feels damp. Using small circular motions, clean small sections of each slipper. You may have to repeat this process several times to properly clean dirty or stained areas of leather.

3.       Buff dry Once you have cleaned both slippers, allow the leather to rest for five minutes and then buff dry using a fresh, dry cloth. 

4.       Use leather conditioner Apply commercially available leather conditioner to your slippers using another clean cloth and following the product instructions. This will keep the leather soft, supple and crack-free. Leather conditioner can be bought at most supermarkets.

5.       Air dry Finally, allow your slippers to dry naturally for three to four hours before wearing them.

Can you wash suede slippers? 

As mentioned above, we do not recommend washing suede slippers using a machine. However, as this material is easily marked and stained, the time when you will have to clean your suede slippers will inevitably come. When this happens, spot cleaning is the best method. This can be done in two ways and should be carried out as soon as you notice a stain or mark. The two methods are:

-       The vinegar method

Put a very small amount of vinegar on a clean cloth and lightly dab and rub the area of suede affected. It’s important you don’t use too much vinegar, as this will result in a lingering smell, and it’s also advisable not to rub too hard, as this can cause damage to the fabric. Once the spot is no longer visible, leave the slipper to naturally air dry. Any slight vinegar smell will dissipate over a few days. 

-       The eraser method

Simple but effective, this method involves using a traditional pencil eraser to remove spots and stains. Gently rub the affected areas, as you would if you were removing a pencil error, until the spot or stain has vanished. 

How to clean sheepskin slippers

Just as is the case with leather slippers, when it comes to cleaning sheepskin footwear, there are certain processes you should follow. This is what we recommend:

-       Dip in cool water and shampoo

Submerge both slippers in a bucket of warm water. When their entire surface is sopping wet, apply specialised sheepskin shampoo. This can be purchased at most cobblers as well as many supermarkets. The shampoo should be gently rubbed in using a small, clean cloth. Remember to also clean the inside of your slippers using this method - this should remove any bad smells.

-       Rinse

Once both slippers have been thoroughly washed with shampoo, rinse them using cool water. This may need to be repeated a number of times to ensure all soap suds are removed.

-       Air Dry

Just as you would when cleaning leather slippers, the final stage of the cleaning process is to allow your sheepskin slippers to dry naturally. For best results, this should be done in an airing cupboard.

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