How to clean your slippers: The ultimate guide

Why should you clean your slippers

Slippers are the most frequently utilised type of footwear, serving as both indoor and outdoor options, from the cosy confines of the bedroom to the open spaces of the garden. However, their widespread use makes them susceptible to accumulating dirt and grime, becoming a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Wearing slippers indoors offers various benefits including foot protection from injuries and contagious ailments like athlete’s foot, stability enhancement, and warmth. However, due to their extensive use, they need regular cleaning – probably more frequently than you currently do.

In the following sections, you’ll find valuable insights and practical tips on how to clean various slipper materials, including wool, fluff, rubber, and leather. Keep reading to ensure your slippers stay fresh and hygienic.

Why Do Slippers Become Smelly?

The primary culprit behind smelly slippers is none other than sweat! It may surprise you to learn that our feet have a higher concentration of sweat glands than any other part of the body. In fact, each foot can house as many as 250,000 sweat glands, leading to inevitable perspiration, especially when enclosed in cosy shoes.

As the sweat interacts with the skin, it breaks down bacteria, resulting in the emission of a foul and unpleasant odour. This odour permeates your slippers, causing them to become both smelly and sweaty.


Undoubtedly, one of the easiest and most straightforward methods for cleaning slippers is washing them with water and soap. Also, depending on the material, you can simply toss them into the washing machine and allow the machine to handle the rest. 

Here is a list of some tools and supplies that will help you to refresh your slippers:

Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Suede cleaner
Saddle soap
Leather conditioner
Baking soda
Wool wash or gentle detergent
Baby wipes
Equipment / Tools:
Washing machine or large sink
Suede brush
Soft cloth
Clothes drying rack

Cleaning tips for specific slipper types:

How to Clean Cotton and Synthetic Fabric Slippers

You can easily refresh and deodorise cotton terry cloth slides and slippers crafted from polyester fabrics, including those lined with faux fur, by either machine-washing or hand-washing them.

Detergent Standard or heavy-duty
Water TemperatureWarm
Cycle TypeRegular
Drying Air-dry only: do not machine dry
How Often to WashMonthly
  1. Wipe the Soles: Wipe down the soles with a damp cloth or baby wipes to remove any dirt or mud. 
  2. Treating Stains: Apply a small amount of heavy-duty detergent containing enzymes to pre-treat and break apart the stains. Gently work the detergent, into the stained area using your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow the detergent to work its magic for at least 15 minutes before proceeding with the washing process.
  3. Machine Wash Fabric Slippers: If you are machine-washing fabric slippers, add them to a load of similar colours and fabrics, ideally a load with towels. Use warm water and your regular detergent, and select a regular cycle for the wash. 
  4. Hand Wash Fabric Slippers: Fill the sink with warm water and add about one teaspoon of heavy-duty detergent. Submerge the slippers in the soapy water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes to loosen dirt. Afterward, gently squeeze the solution through the slippers, then drain the soapy water. Refill the sink with fresh water and rinse the slippers, until no more soap bubbles are visible. Gently press out excess water and then roll the slippers in a thick towel to help absorb remaining moisture.
  5. Drying Fabric Slippers: Regardless of whether you choose to machine or hand wash your slippers, it is crucial to let them air-dry for optimal results. Reshape the slippers and position them in a well-ventilated area to facilitate the drying process. If you are worried about preserving their shape, lightly stuff the slippers with paper towels or white tissue paper. Remember to change the paper frequently as the slippers dry to ensure they maintain their form and freshness.

How to Clean Suede Slippers

Suede slippers are crafted from leather hides and require spot cleaning to preserve their finish. It is essential to pay close attention to the interior of the slippers as moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria, contributing to a lingering odour. 

Cleaning AgentCornstarch/baking soda / gentle detergent
Special TreatmentsClean soles, interiors, and upper areas separately
How Often to CleanMonthly
  1. Remove Dirt: To eliminate loose soil from the surface of the suede, use a suede brush or a soft cloth. Gently brush or wipe the material to remove any dirt or debris. 
  2. Spot Clean Stains: Sprinkle cornstarch over the stains to absorb the grease. It’s best to do this as soon as the stains occur. Allow the cornstarch to sit on the stains for several hours before brushing it away, and repeat this process until no more grease is absorbed. For heavy soil and stubborn stains, consider using a commercial suede cleaner, 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, start by sprinkling a generous layer of baking soda inside the slippers. Use a suede brush to work the baking soda into the lining and let it sit for several hours. Once the time has passed, vacuum out the baking soda to reveal a fresher, odour-free interior.
  4. Deeper Cleaning: If the lining is heavily soiled, create a solution by mixing 2 cups of warm water with 1 teaspoon of wool wash or gentle detergent. Dampen a soft cloth with the solution (not soaking wet) and gently scrub the interior of the slippers until most of the visible soil is removed. Rinse the cloth frequently for a thorough cleaning.
  5. Air Drying: Complete the cleaning process by rinsing the cloth in clean water and using it to wipe down the interior of the slippers, removing the soapy residue. Let the slippers air dry for a couple of hours, or you can use a blow-dryer on a low setting to expedite the drying process. To restore the fluffiness of the fur, use your fingers to gently work the shearling lining.

How to Clean Faux-Fur and Fluffy Slippers

If you’ve ever experienced the delight of sinking your feet into the comfort of faux fur, you know that these slippers are a perfect blend of style and warmth. These shoes should be hand washed due to the delicate nature of the fabric.

Detergent Standard (Mild-Medium Strength) 
Water TemperatureWarm
Drying Air-dry only: do not machine dry
How Often to WashMonthly 
  1. Wipe Down Soles: If the slippers have been worn outside, use a damp cloth or baby wipes infused with gentle soap to wipe down the soles. This will effectively remove any mud or grit.
  2. Hand-Wash Fabric Slippers: Hand wash in a sink in warm water with about one teaspoon of detergent. Place the slippers in the soapy water and gently rub them with the washing agent. Next, fill the sink with fresh water and rinse the slippers until no more soap bubbles are visible. Finally, gently press out any excess water from the slippers. 
  3. Leave to Air Dry: Carefully reshape the slippers and position them in a well-ventilated space to dry, preferably outdoors in the sun. To maintain their shape, you can lightly stuff the slippers with paper towels or white tissue paper whilst they are drying.

How to Clean Wool Slippers

When it comes to cleaning wool slippers, a gentle approach is essential. Due to their natural odour-repelling nature, wool slippers require infrequent washing. To avoid any risk of shrinking and misshaping, it’s crucial to use cold water and air-drying in the sun. 

Detergent Very gentle
Water TemperatureCold-Lukewarm
DryingAir-dry only: do not machine dry
How Often to WashBi-Monthly 
  1. Take Out Insoles: Before you begin washing your slippers, check if they have removable insoles and take them out. Allow the insoles to air out outside for a few hours while you work on cleaning the slippers. 
  2. Brush Away Any Debris: Take an unused toothbrush and carefully brush away any dirt from the surface of your slippers. Focus on the areas around the toes and heels, as these are the spots where debris tends to gather the most. Handwash: Begin by filling a bucket or sink with warm water and adding a small amount of wool-safe soap or mild detergent, and stir until it is completely dissolved. Submerge your slippers in the soapy water and let them soak for approximately 15 minutes – this soaking process will help loosen any embedded dirt or debris in the fabric. After the slippers have soaked, use a damp cloth to gently scrub them with the soapy water, targeting and eliminating any stubborn stains
  3. Rinse and Pat: Make sure to rinse them thoroughly with cold water to eliminate all traces of soap or detergent. Gently squeeze the slippers to remove any excess water. Then, use a clean, white towel to pat the slippers dry. For the best results, allow the slippers to air dry in the sun.

How to Clean Leather Slippers

Machine washing leather slippers is not recommended, but they can be very effectively hand cleaned. By taking meticulous care of the leather, you can ensure that your slippers remain in excellent condition for many years to come.

Cleaning AgentSaddle soap
Special TreatmentsFinish with leather conditioner
How Often to CleanMonthly 
  1. Remove Loose Soil: Gently wipe your slippers down with a slightly damp cloth or baby wipes (make sure to wring them out a bit to remove excess wetness). 
  2. Clean With Saddle Soap: Create a solution by mixing warm water with Castile or saddle soap, carefully following the product’s directions. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and wring it until it’s slightly damp. Begin working in sections and gently wiping down both the exterior and interior of the slippers. If the interiors are shearling-lined, clean them separately using the method described above, after you have cleaned and conditioned the exterior leather. 
  3. Buff Dry: Allow them to sit for approximately five minutes, and then buff it with a clean, soft cloth. 
  4. Apply Leather Conditioner: To maintain the leather’s softness and suppleness, use a commercial leather conditioner and follow the product’s directions for application. 
  5. Allow to Dry: To prevent stretching, allow the slippers to air-dry for several hours before wearing them. This will help maintain the shape and fit of your slippers.

How to Clean Sheepskin Slippers

Few things compare to the heavenly softness and natural warmth that genuine sheepskin provides. These slippers should also be hand washed due to the delicate material, but using gentle shampoo. 

Cleaning Agent Gentle Shampoo / Wool Detergent
Water TemperatureCold-Lukewarm
Drying Air-dry only: do not expose to direct sunlight
How Often to WashMonthly
  1. Handwashing Preparation: Dip the slipper completely in a bucket of cold water, and add a spoonful of wool detergent or shampoo directly into the water. 
  2. Dunk and Soak: Soak the footwear in the water and detergent mixture for five minutes. Afterwards, use a sponge to clean the sheepskin slippers gently. Next, take a small amount of shampoo on a damp cloth and use circular motions to rub the shampoo all over the slippers. Rinse the slippers thoroughly in cold water to remove any remaining shampoo and detergent.
  3. Leave to Air Dry: Allow the slippers to air-dry naturally in a cool place. Avoid direct sunlight during the drying process, and refrain from using artificial heating mechanisms like a heater.

How to Clean Rubber and Plastic Slippers

When it comes to cleaning rubber slippers, their durability and water-resistant nature make the process super straightforward. You can easily rinse them under running water or wipe them with a damp cloth to remove dirt and grime. 

Cleaning Agent Vinegar and Detergent
Water TemperatureWarm
DryingAir-dry only 
How Often to WashMonthly 
  1. Remove Loose Soil: Gently wipe them down with a slightly damp cloth or baby wipes, ensuring to wring out the cloth or wipes slightly to remove excess wetness. 
  2. Soaking: Soak them in a 3-1 mix of water and vinegar for about 10 minutes. After soaking, scrub them with soapy water until all dirt is removed. 
  3. Air Drying: Leave them to air dry, and you’ll be left with a fresh pair of slippers. This should only take 5–10 minutes because of the fast drying material, you’ll be ready to go in no time!

Some other simple and home remedy methods For cleaning slippers include:

  • Harness the power of the sun by leaving your slippers under the sun for as long as possible, as the UV rays of the sun are super effective for killing bacteria. While it may not completely eliminate the stink, it will definitely refresh them and help get rid of the overpowering odour, leaving your slippers feeling fresher for a while. 
  • Consider investing in specialised commercial cleaning products, like sprays and powders, which are specifically designed to combat smelly shoes. These products often include antibacterial agents and essential oils, which work wonders in effectively eliminating unwanted odours and leaving your shoes smelling fresh and clean. 
  • If you have any leftover citrus peels from oranges or lemons, you can harness their natural power to kill the smell by sticking a peel or two on the inside of your slippers. Allow them to work their magic overnight and check in the morning if the smell is gone. Citrus peels contain natural oils with antibacterial properties that can effectively eliminate unwanted odours. 

The benefits of different slippers

Different types of slippers offer various benefits based on their materials, so it is important to consider them to buy a pair that best suits your needs. Here are the advantages of some common types of slippers:

Sheepskin Slippers: 

  • Sheepskin is an excellent insulator which provides natural warmth to keep your feet cosy, so they are particularly beneficial in the winter. Sheepskin also wicks away moisture, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. The material also allows for great air circulation, preventing sweaty feet, thus keeping them clean and hygienic. The plush texture of sheepskin provides a luxurious and comfortable feel, and the high-quality material will make them long-lasting with proper care.

Leather Slippers:

  • Leather slippers are sturdy and can withstand regular wear, so they are a great option if you plan on wearing them a lot throughout the day. Leather also moulds to the shape of your feet over time, offering a more comfortable and customised fit. It is also a breathable material that allows air to circulate, which reduces the chances of odour and sweat. They also often have a classic and elegant appearance, which creates an appearance of luxury.

Cotton Slippers:

  • Cotton slippers are perfect for warmer weather, as they allow airflow and keep your feet cool. They are usually soft and gentle on the skin, making a comfortable pair of slippers. They can also be simply machine washed and dried for simple maintenance.

Plastic Slippers:

  • Plastic slippers are not only perfect for home wear, but they are also ideal for poolside or beach use as they don’t absorb water. Maintenance of them is very simple because they can easily be rinsed and wiped down. They are typically more budget-friendly compared to other materials and can be worn outside the household. 

Faux Fur Slippers:

  • Faux fur provides a warm and luxurious feel, similar to real fur. Faux fur slippers are cruelty-free and suitable for those who prefer not to use animal products but still maintain warmth and style.

Wool Slippers:

  • Wool is an excellent insulator and will keep your feet toasty in cold weather. Wool can also absorb moisture, preventing sweaty feet and smelly slippers, because wool has natural antimicrobial properties, reducing the likelihood of unpleasant odours.

Suede Slippers:

  • Suede has a velvety texture, offering a comfortable, smooth fit. Suede slippers often have a sophisticated and refined look and allow for air circulation, making them suitable for various weather conditions. 

Slippers Care and Repairs

While many people discard worn-out or damaged slippers and purchase new ones when they can be easily repaired. And for those who have a beloved pair they can’t part with, there are many potential repair options.

Seam Repair:
Any loose seams can be easily resown if you have a thread and needle, or even on your sewing machine. If you aren’t able to do this, take them to your local sewing shop for a low cost repair. Also, if you have any small holes or tears in the material, you can use fabric glue or a needle and thread to patch them back up.

On cloth or slippers that have wear to the sole, you can simply cut out felt by tracing the outline of the slipper. Stitch over it to create a new sole. 

Insole Replacement:
If your slippers have started to lose their cushiness, you can simply sew or glue an insole or piece of felt to the inner area. They will feed as good as new!

Leather Conditioner:
If they have leather inner or outer material, you can use leather conditioner to refresh their appearance and to prevent future cracking. 

Odour Removal:
A simple odour repair is to sprinkle baking soda inside the slippers to absorb odours and keep them smelling fresh. Apply it overnight and vacuum in the morning for a low cost, minimal effort repair. 

Storing Your Slippers 

Slippers are versatile footwear that can be enjoyed year round, in both warm weather and cold winter conditions. It’s common for people to have different pairs of slippers for each season, which may result in the need for storage during certain periods of the year. Properly storing your slippers is essential to maintain their quality and extend their lifespan.

Firstly, before stowing away your slippers for the season, take the time to give them a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt or debris, and ensure they are completely dry to prevent the growth of mould. This step is crucial, especially if your slippers have been exposed to moisture or sweat during recent usage. 

To help your slippers retain their shape while in storage, consider stuffing them with paper towels. This not only prevents them from becoming misshapen, but also helps maintain their comfort when you take them out for use again.

The original shoebox or plastic containers can be excellent storage options. Opt for storage containers that provide ample space to avoid squeezing or crushing the slippers. Additionally, arranging them side-by-side rather than stacking them on top of each other is advisable, as it minimises the risk of deformation.

For leather slippers, it’s crucial to avoid storing them in sealed plastic bags. Leather needs to breathe to maintain its quality during months of storage, so it is best to keep them in storage containers that have air circulation. 

How to Prevent Your Slippers from Becoming Smelly Again between washes 

Nothing is worse than slipping your feet into smelly slippers after a long day, especially if you recently put in the effort of deep cleaning them. Here are some quick tips to prevent them from becoming malodorous again:

  • Only wear your slippers barefoot with clean feet, or with clean socks. 
  • Deodorise your sippers overnight with baking soda and vacuum in the morning.
  • Wash them according to our instructions, usually once a month.
  • Always ensure that your feet are dry before putting them into your slippers.

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