A good pair of house shoes is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest luxuries. They keep your toes warm, help you wind down after a long day, and offer support where you need it most. With all this in mind, it’s understandable to become attached to a beloved pair.
Of course, there comes a time when all house shoes will need to be replaced. But if they’re simply scuffed up, a little dirty, or slightly discolored but otherwise in solid shape, you might just need to clean them.
If you’re like lots of other people, you might be wondering, what are slippers and can you put slippers in the washing machine? The footwear enthusiasts at Vionic are here to answer this question and provide guidance on sprucing up your house shoes.
Can You Wash Slippers in the Washing Machine?
Can you put slippers in a washer? The short answer is that it depends. Certain materials like cotton and terry cloth can be laundered in a standard washing machine with cold or warm water on a gentle cycle. If your slippers are made of one of these textiles like our Lydia slipper, it might be OK to toss them in and then let them air-dry—that is, as long as they don’t have dense rubber soles.
But generally speaking, it’s best to avoid putting house shoes in a washer when washing slippers. Spot-cleaning or hand-washing slippers will suffice in most cases while preventing the material from shrinking and safeguarding your drum from potential damage.¹
Slippers with rubber outsoles (even those with cotton or terry cloth uppers), as well as suede house shoes and styles with shearling or faux fur lining, shouldn’t be cleaned in a washing machine. Find detailed care instructions for different types of home slippers below.
How to Properly Care for Slippers
The primary purpose of properly caring for your house shoes is to extend their lifespan. With this in mind, it’s important to be mindful about what you clean them with and what methods you use. While it depends on the specific material and style, there’s a good chance you already have all or most of the necessary supplies lying around your home.
Cleaning Slippers: What You’ll Need
To remove dirt, stains, and discoloration from your slippers, you may need:
- A plastic tub or large bowl (a pluggable sink can also work)
- Liquid laundry detergent or dish soap
- Baking soda
- A soft, clean toothbrush
- A nylon bristle brush (sometimes called a suede brush)
- Gentle makeup remover wipes or baby wipes
- A few clean cloths
- A sizable towel
Leather conditioner will come in handy, too, if you’re working with suede, nubuck, or calfskin house shoes. You can find both this in Vionic’s shoe care line.
How to Hand-Wash Fabric Slippers
If your slippers have fabric uppers, such as terry cloth, microfiber, cotton, or chenille, hand-washing is the way to go.
Here’s what to do:
- Begin by wiping down the outsoles to get rid of excess dirt and grime. A damp rag, makeup remover wipe, or a baby wipe will work.
- If the uppers of your slippers have distinct stains or spots (as opposed to simply being dirty or discolored), it’s best to pre-treat the material. Dab the stains with a few drops of dish soap or liquid detergent, then gently rub it back and forth with a clean, damp cloth. Let the pre-treatment sit for about a half-hour before starting the hand-washing process.
- Fill a large bowl, plastic tub, or large sink with lukewarm water, then add a generous drizzle of dish soap or mild detergent.
- Submerge your house shoes in the soapy mixture. (You may have to wash one at a time if your basin isn’t big enough for both.)
- With your slippers underwater, give them a gentle shake to agitate the dirty material. Next, massage the uppers and lining with your fingers to lift the grime.
- Allow your cloth slippers to soak in the soapy solution for 20 to 30 minutes. The water should darken after a few minutes as the muck and dirt wash out.
- Once the material looks clean, take your slippers out of the water and rinse them off either with your sink faucet or a bowl or tub of clean water. It may take a few minutes of rinsing before they’re entirely free of suds, but make sure you get it all out, as dry soap can impact the softness of the textile.
- Place your clean slippers on a large towel and wrap it around them. Then press down gently to squeeze out any excess water.
- Carefully reshape your house shoes while they’re still slightly damp and set them in a relatively cool, ventilated area to air-dry.
As we mentioned, it’s usually best not to launder slippers in a washer. And at the risk of stating the obvious, putting them in a dryer is also not recommended. The hot air can melt the adhesive connecting the soles to the footbeds and potentially warp the rubber.² There’s a chance the cloth uppers could shrink as well.
Running a blow dryer over damp slippers can speed up the drying process in a pinch. However, if you have 12 to 24 hours to spare, it’s best to let them air-dry.
How to Clean Suede Slippers By Hand
Do your house shoes have suede uppers? If so, the soapy water method is off the table, as the velvety-soft material is prone to moisture damage. But luckily, all you’ll need to clean suede mules or moccasins is a nylon brush and a bit of leather conditioner.
Here’s what to do:
- Begin by gently running the brush all over the suede without any solution, focusing on stains, spots, and discoloration. Dry-brushing may be enough to remove all the stains, but if not, you can try leather conditioner.
- Dab a couple drops of leather conditioner onto the nylon bristles, then rub it gently into the uppers. You can apply additional drops as needed, but it’s best to start slow to avoid oversaturating the suede.
- Wipe off any remaining residue with a clean, dry cloth.
- Let your house shoes air-dry in a cool, ventilated area.
To prevent future stains, discoloration, and water damage, you might also want to use a protective shoe spray, like Vionic’s Rain & Stain.
How to Clean Faux Fur or Sheepskin Slippers
There’s nothing quite like sliding your feet into a pair of fuzzy slippers on a chilly day. Having said that, cleaning faux fur, shearling, and wool can be tricky—doable, but tricky.
Here’s what to do:
- First, you’ll want to deodorize the furry material with a generous sprinkling of baking soda.
- Let your slippers sit with the baking soda for up to 24 hours, then shake them out thoroughly.
- Dab a small amount of liquid laundry detergent, mild soap, or wool detergent onto a clean, damp cloth.
- Softly rub the cloth all around the lining of your slippers, focusing on heavily soiled areas.
- To address more stubborn spots, apply a dab of liquid soap to a soft toothbrush and gently rub the stain until it lifts.
- When the fuzzy material looks clean, run another clean, damp cloth over the lining to get rid of any remaining soapy residue.
- Place your house shoes in a cool, well-ventilated area and let them air-dry.
Furry slippers can be blow-dried on the lowest heat setting to fluff them back up.³ However, excess heat may damage faux fur, so when in doubt, just stick to air-drying.
The Best Orthotic Slippers for Women and Men
It’s crucial to know how to care for your footwear, but as with all shoes, old slippers will eventually need to be replaced. If you’re in the market for a fresh pair, check out the comfortable men’s and women’s styles from Vionic.
Our fashion-forward house shoes include moccasins, mules, clogs, sandal-style slippers, and everything in between. Plus, each pair is embedded with our proprietary orthotics, meaning arch support and heel stability are built right into the soles.
Shop our selection of home slippers today!
- Mary Marlowe Leverette. “How to Wash Slippers”. The Spruce. Updated on 01/05/21, https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-clean-slippers-4779944
- Marc Sigal. “How to Wash Slippers”. Wiki How. Updated on September 16, 2021, https://www.wikihow.com/Wash-Slippers
- “How to Clean Fleece Lined Non-Washable Slippers”. How to clean stuff, http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-fleece-lined-non-washable-slippers/