How to Clean Sperrys Without Ruining Them

Updated
Categories Doing Laundry
Don’t let dirt and stains get you down. 

During the summer months, your Sperrys will get a lot more action. That means one thing — they’ll need to be cleaned more often.

We’ll teach you how to clean Sperrys whether yours are made of canvas, suede, or leather. Next time you get your Sperrys dirty, you’ll know how to restore them to perfection!

How to Clean Leather Sperrys

Gently brush away dirt and debris from the shoes. Clean the shoes with a soap and dish soap solution. Go in circular motions until the shoes are slightly damp. Dry with a microfiber cloth. Use a leather conditioner and polish to protect the shoes. Wipe away excess residue, then buff the shoes.


Can Sperrys Get Wet?

If you’re wondering whether you should wear your Sperrys to the beach, go right ahead (1)! They won’t keep your feet dry because they’re not waterproof. But they are water-friendly. If they get wet, they will dry without any damage.

In fact, according to Sperry, getting them wet only makes them look better! Being exposed to water, salt water specifically, gives them a more seasoned look that adds a unique vibe to your shoes.

Plus, their water-friendliness makes them a breeze to clean. You can use water to clean your shoes.

Types of Sperrys

Within the Sperry brand, they offer a few types of shoes:

  • Leather: Leather is Sperry’s most popular shoe type, and their leather shoes come in a range of different styles. Leather is stylish and ages really well, so you’ll get your money’s worth! Even though leather is sensitive and can get dirty easily, it’s not hard to clean. Keep in mind that these are made of real leather, so if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, they’re probably not the shoes for you.
  • Canvas: Sperry canvas shoes are lightweight, flexible, and also come in many styles. They’re stylish enough for most occasions and perfect for summer. However, they’re not the most supportive shoes, as they don’t offer much backing around the ankle, so keep that in mind.
  • Suede: Sperry’s suede shoes also come in a range of styles from sneakers to slippers. Suede shoes are highly durable and breathable. Keep in mind that they do attract dirt pretty easily, so you’ll need to clean them more often than canvas shoes. Plus, they’re made with animal skin, so if you’re a vegan or vegetarian — or just don’t like wearing animal products — keep that in mind.

Sperry also offers shoes made from chambray, linen, mesh, nylon, rubber, tweed, wool and nubuck. Today, though, we’re focusing on leather, canvas and suede only.

How to Clean Sperrys

We’ll take you through how to clean leather, canvas and suede Sperrys, as well as flip-flops and Sperry insoles.

Leather Sperrys

What You Need

Instructions

  1. Remove dirt: Use your shoe brush or toothbrush to gently brush away dirt and debris from the surface of the shoes. Use gentle strokes and go in the same direction across the shoes.
  2. Mix a cleaning solution: Put on your rubber gloves. In a basin, mix together cool water with a few drops of dish soap.
  3. Clean the shoes: Dip your microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution. Rub the cloth along the shoes in circular motions while applying a decent amount of pressure. This will remove dirt and scuffs. Don’t soak the shoes, but they can get slightly damp.
  4. Dry: With another microfiber cloth, wipe the shoes dry in a circular motion. You may need to leave them to air dry for a little while before moving onto the next step.
  5. Leather conditioner: If you buy an all-in-one conditioner and polish, you can do this step now. If you have two separate products, you need to leave 20 minutes between both products. Apply some leather conditioner & polish to a cloth and wipe it along the shoes, creating a thin layer. Let it dry for 20 minutes before wiping the shoes with a clean dry cloth to remove excess residue.
  6. Buff: With another microfiber cloth, buff your shoes in circular motions using a bit of pressure. This will leave a nice shine and neat finish.

What About Stains?

Well, the dish soap solution will get out the majority of stains. But for things like grease or oil, sprinkle half a teaspoon of baking soda or talcum powder over the affected area. Rub it in gently with a damp cloth before letting it sit overnight. Wipe it off in the morning and hopefully the stain will be gone!

For dark stains, like ink, mix isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle at a 1:1 ratio. Spray onto the affected area and pat the stain gently with a clean cloth until the stain removes. Wipe with a separate cloth, then dry with a towel before letting the shoes air dry completely.

Canvas Sperrys

What You Need

Instructions

  1. Mix a solution: Wearing your rubber gloves, mix together warm water and enough laundry detergent for there to be bubbles at the top.
  2. Scrub: Dip the shoe brush into the solution and scrub the shoes to remove dirt, debris and stains. If this doesn’t work, you can dip the stained part of the shoes into the solution. Don’t submerge the shoes fully, as soaking wet shoes can increase the chances of mold and mildew.
  3. Rinse: Soak a cloth in clean warm water and wipe the shoes to remove all soap residue.
  4. Air dry: Remove the soles and hang the shoes and soles to dry outside. Stuff the shoes with newspaper to help them keep their shape. Wait until they are completely dry before wearing again.

When it comes to stain removal, you can actually put your canvas Sperrys in the washing machine! Use a gentle cycle, cold water and half the normal amount of detergent. Run the full cycle.

Warning

Don’t put the shoes in the dryer. The heat can melt shoe glue and your canvas shoes might fall apart.

Suede Sperrys

What You Need

Instructions

  1. Brush: Use the suede brush to gently brush the shoes in short strokes, going in the same direction. This removes surface dirt and debris.
  2. Sandpaper: For scuffs that are matted down, use sandpaper to gently lift the scuff.
  3. Erase: If the scuff mark remains, use a suede bar or an eraser to rub over the scuff mark with a decent amount of pressure.
  4. Clean: Use a wet sponge to dampen the shoe’s exterior. This will help remove water stains.
  5. Steam: If the shoes still aren’t clean, use steam from your kettle or a garment steamer to lift up stains and dirt. When the dirt is loosened, use the suede brush to wipe it away.
  6. Protect: Spray the shoe’s exterior with the protector spray.
  7. Stuff: Stuff the shoes with newspaper so they hold their shape while air drying. This should take about 24 hours.

If you have persistent water stains, dampen the sponge with distilled white vinegar instead of water in place of step four.

For oil stains, sprinkle cornstarch over the affected area. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe it away with a cloth. The cornstarch should absorb the oil so you can clean the shoes normally.

Act Quickly

For stains on suede, treat them as soon as you notice them for more successful results.

Sperry Flip-Flops

Sperry flip-flops are made from leather, so follow our same tips for leather Sperrys. To recap, here are the instructions:

  1. Use a shoe brush or toothbrush to wipe away surface dirt and debris.
  2. Mix together a few drops of dish soap and water.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to apply to the solution to the outside and straps of the shoes.
  4. Wipe dry with another microfiber cloth. Let the shoes air dry until they are completely dry.
  5. Spread a thin layer of leather conditioner and polish over the shoes with a microfiber cloth.
  6. Let it sit for 20 minutes before buffing in circular motions with a microfiber cloth.

Sperry Insoles

The insoles of your Sperrys can get pretty dirty and smelly, too! Here’s how we recommend washing them.

What You Need

  • Dish soap, vegetable soap or glycerine.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Baking soda.

Instructions

  1. If the shoes have removable insoles, take them out and do this separately.
  2. Rinse the insoles under cool water.
  3. Pour a little bit of dish soap, vegetable oil or glycerine onto a microfiber cloth. Rub it onto the insoles.
  4. Rinse the insoles again.
  5. Let the insoles air dry.

If the insoles are not removable, and the insoles aren’t made of leather, then sprinkle baking soda into the shoe. Just make sure it doesn’t come in contact with any leather part of the shoe as this can cause damage. Scrub the baking soda with a damp toothbrush to work it in. After a few minutes, vacuum the remaining residue out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Wash Sperry Sneakers?

Yes! Sperry sneakers come in a range of materials including leather, canvas and suede. When washing Sperry sneakers, use our tips depending on the shoe’s material.

How Do You Clean White Sperry Shoes?

When cleaning white Sperrys, our step by step instructions will work. Just always make sure the sprays and conditioners are safe for white shoes.

There are two other tips you can try for white shoes:

  • Mr Clean Magic Eraser: For white leather shoes, use this to remove dirt and stains on the soles of the shoes.
  • Baking soda and white vinegar: For white canvas shoes, mix together a tablespoon of baking soda, two tablespoons of white vinegar and a cup of warm water. Using a cloth or brush, apply the solution to the entire exterior of the shoes. Brush off remaining paste and let the shoes air dry.

How Do I Stop My Sperrys From Smelling?

The best way to stop your Sperrys from smelling is to use a versatile shoe spray. There are many shoe sprays that work on all types of shoes, including suede, leather, and canvas.

These sprays fight off odors and freshen your shoes. If you use them regularly, they can prevent smells as well.

We also recommend wearing socks with your Sperrys. This will keep your feet cool and prevent bad odors in the shoes.

Do Sperrys Get Ruined in the Rain?

Sperrys are boating shoes, so they can get wet. While they won’t keep your feet dry, the shoes will survive! They’ll dry up soon enough and there will be minimal evidence they were ever wet. However, if you do notice water stains, just go through our cleaning steps to remove them.

How to Clean Sperrys Without Leather Cleaner

If you don’t have leather cleaner, use our handy dish soap and water solution to clean your shoes. While we do recommend leather conditioner to protect your Sperrys, it’s not entirely necessary.

Just keep in mind, your Sperrys might show signs of wear and tear sooner than they would if you did use leather conditioner and polish.


Good as New

With our tips and tricks for cleaning Sperrys, your shoes will look as good as new, even after a day at the beach or on the boat!

Make sure to check the material of your Sperrys before cleaning them, as you should use the proper method for your shoe type.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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