How to Clean and Care for Slippers

Four pairs of slippers

Getty Images / Carol Yepes

Slippers are as varied as the feet who wear them. There are terry cloth slides, fleece-lined leather slippers, and novelty superhero booties. No matter the style you prefer, they should be cleaned regularly to keep them soft, comfy, and looking good for as long as possible.

How Often to Clean Slippers

How often slippers need to be cleaned depends on several factors:

  • Do you wear the slippers outside?
  • Do you wear socks with the slippers?
  • Do you deal with foot fungus and odor?

Every type of slipper should be cleaned as soon as any odors or heavy soil become apparent. Most slippers should be cleaned at least monthly.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Suede cleaner
  • Cornstarch
  • Saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • Baking soda
  • Wool wash or gentle detergent
  • Baby wipes

Tools

  • Washing machine or large sink
  • Suede brush
  • Vacuum
  • Soft cloth
  • Clothes drying rack

Instructions for Washing Cotton and Synthetic Fabric Slippers

Cotton terry cloth slides and any slippers made from polyester fabrics, even those lined with faux fur, can be machine or hand washed.

  1. Wipe Down Soles

    If the slippers have been worn outside, wipe down the soles with a damp cloth to remove any mud or grit.

  2. Pretreat Stains

    If the slippers have food stains or heavily soiled areas like interior soles, use a dab of heavy-duty detergent that contains enzymes to break apart stains (Tide, Persil) to pretreat stains. Work the detergent into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow the detergent to work for at least 15 minutes before washing.

  3. Machine Wash Slippers

    If you are machine washing slippers, add them to a load of similar colors and fabrics. A load of towels usually works well. Wash in warm water with your regular detergent on a regular cycle.

  4. Hand Wash Slippers

    Slippers can also be hand washed in a sink in warm water with about one teaspoon of a heavy-duty detergent. Add the slippers to the soapy water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes to lift the soil. Gently squeeze the solution through the slippers and then drain away the soapy water.

    Fill the sink with fresh water and rinse the slippers until no more soap bubbles appear. Gently press out excess water. Roll the slippers in a thick towel to help absorb water.

  5. Drying Washable Slippers

    Warning

    Never place slippers in an automatic dryer. The high heat can cause the soles to become distorted and any glues used in construction to dissolve.

    Whether machine or hand washed, all slippers should be allowed to air dry. Reshape the slippers and place them in a well-ventilated space to dry. If you are concerned about them holding their shape, stuff the slippers lightly with paper towels or white tissue paper. Don't use newspaper because it can leave ink stains in your slippers. Change the paper frequently as the slippers dry.

Instructions for Cleaning Suede Slippers

Suede slippers are made from leather hides and must be spot cleaned to maintain the finish.

  1. Remove Loose Soil

    Use a suede brush or a soft cloth to remove loose soil from the surface of the suede.

  2. Spot Clean Stains

    Treat grease stains by sprinkling them with cornstarch to absorb the grease. This is most effective if done as soon as stains happen. Allow the cornstarch to sit on the stains for several hours and then brush away. Repeat until no more grease is absorbed.

    Use a commercial suede cleaner to treat heavy soil and stains following the product instructions.

  3. Clean the Interior of Suede Slippers

    Most suede slippers have a shearling-lined interior. To clean and freshen the lining, sprinkle in a heavy layer of baking soda. Use the suede brush to work it into the lining and allow it to sit for several hours. Vacuum out the baking soda.

    If the lining is heavily soiled, mix a solution of two cups warm water and one teaspoon wool wash or gentle detergent. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and wring until just damp. Gently scrub the interior of the slippers until most visible soil is removed, rinse the cloth frequently.

    Finish by rinsing the cloth in clean water and wiping down the interior of the slippers to remove any soapy residue. Allow the slippers to air dry for several hours.

Instructions for Cleaning Leather Slippers

Leather slippers should not be machine washed but can be hand cleaned.

  1. Remove Loose Soil

    Wipe down leather slippers with a slightly damp cloth to remove loose soil.

  2. Clean With Saddle Soap

    Mix a solution of warm water and Castile or saddle soap following product directions. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and wring until only slightly damp. Working in sections, gently wipe down the exterior and leather interior of the slippers.

    If the interiors are shearling-lined, clean them separately after the exterior leather has been cleaned and conditioned.

  3. Buff Dry

    When the leather is cleaned, wait about five minutes and then buff with a clean, soft cloth.

  4. Apply Leather Conditioner

    To keep the leather soft and supple, apply a commercial leather conditioner following the product directions. Finish by buffing to a shine.

  5. Allow to Dry

    Allow the slippers to air dry for several hours before wearing them. This will help prevent stretching.

Tips to Keep Slippers Looking Their Best Longer

  • Do not wear the slippers outside.
  • Put on fresh socks before changing into slippers after work.
  • Clean slippers regularly.
  • Rotate slippers so they have a chance to breathe between wearings.