Step-by-Step Guide: How to Wash and Air-Dry Water Shoes Properly

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Wash and Air-Dry Water Shoes Properly

Ever come back from a day at the beach or a river hike with water shoes that are less than fresh? You’re not alone. It’s a common issue for outdoor enthusiasts. But don’t worry, washing your water shoes is easier than you might think.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to clean your water shoes, helping them look and smell as good as new. Whether they’re caked in mud or just have that funky post-adventure odor, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways

  • Gather the right cleaning supplies before washing water shoes. This includes a stiff-bristle brush for scrubbing off dirt, a mild detergent to avoid damage, a home-made vinegar solution for deodorizing, and baking soda for tough stains.
  • Remove insoles and laces before cleaning to ensure a thorough clean and to extend the lifespan of these parts.
  • Scrub the exterior of the shoes gently but thoroughly using a soap or detergent solution. This helps remove visible dirt and eliminate bacteria.
  • Pay special attention to cleaning the insoles. This process involves soaking them in warm water with mild detergent and scrubbing gently. Air-drying the insoles after cleaning prevents bacteria and fungi growth.
  • Air-drying water shoes properly is vital to prevent moisture from breeding bacteria and fungus, extend the lifespan of the shoes, and maintain their shape.
  • To speed up the drying process, you can use a fan, insert paper towels into the shoes for moisture absorption or prop the shoes up with the toe-end facing upwards. Never use artificial heat to speed up drying as it can damage the material and shape of the water shoes.

Properly washing and air-drying water shoes is essential to maintain their functionality and prevent odors or damage. Following the right steps can ensure your water shoes last through many water adventures. To effectively wash and care for your water shoes, consider consulting sources like U.S. News, which provides reviews of the best water shoes and discusses maintenance tips. For more detailed guidance, Travel and Leisure offers a comprehensive review of the best water shoes for women, including advice on how to clean and dry them properly.

Choose the Right Cleaning Supplies

Choose the Right Cleaning Supplies

Before you tackle the cleaning of your water shoes, you’ll need to gather the right supplies. Your choice of cleaning materials can make a significant difference in how effectively you’re able to remove dirt and eliminate odors. This section will guide you in selecting the best products and tools for the job.

To start, you’ll need a brush. Choose a brush with stiff bristles to effectively scrape off entrenched dirt and grime. A toothbrush or small scrubbing brush will work well. Steer clear of brushes with metal bristles as they might damage the fabric of your shoes.

Second, detergent is required. Opt for a mild detergent as harsher ones could deteriorate the material of your water shoes. Baby shampoo or dish soap are great options as they’re typically less abrasive and will help to remove both dirt and smells.

You might also consider using a vinegar solution to tackle bad odors. Vinegar is an effective, natural deodorizer that can kill odor-causing bacteria without hurting your shoes. Mix one part vinegar to two parts water and you’ll have a home-made odor solution on your hands.

For tough stains or particularly stubborn odors, baking soda might be your best friend. It’s often used in shoe cleaning for its absorbent properties that can pull out deep-seated dirt and smells.

Finally, you’ll need a towel or a piece of cloth to dry your shoes after they’re clean. Air drying is the preferred method but you may use a dry towel to speed up the process.

It’s important to note that all shoes are different and you should follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions if they’re available. The aforementioned cleaning supplies are generally safe for most types of water shoes. However, certain materials may require special care.

Let’s move on to the actual process of cleaning your water shoes now that you’re armed with the right cleaning supplies. Let me guide you through the steps to ensure your shoes look and smell as fresh as they did when you first bought them.

Remove Insoles and Laces

Remove Insoles and Laces

Paying close attention to insoles and laces often goes unnoticed when cleaning water shoes. However, these elements play a crucial role in maintaining your shoes in top shape. Let’s guide you through the process.

First things first, before cleaning starts, make sure to remove the insoles and laces. Think of these as mini sponges just soaking up all the dirt, bacteria and, yikes, odours. It’s essential to remove these pesky dirt-traps to give your shoes a thorough clean.

Now let’s get down to business. Start by extracting the laces from each shoe. It’s usually as simple as loosening them up all the way and pulling them out from the bottom eyelet. If they’re particularly grimy, consider replacing them entirely. If not, a mild detergent and warm water soak will do the trick.

Next, turn your attention to the insoles. They might be a bit trickier to remove if they’re glued in, but don’t worry. If they do not come out easily, it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be cleaned separately. In this case, leave them in place and proceed to the next cleaning step.

However, for those that can be removed, take them out and give them a good clean. You could use the same cleaning approach as your water shoes: stiff brush, mild detergent, and all. This tactic not only helps in reducing unpleasant odours but also extends the life of these often-overlooked parts. Remember, drying the shoe parts thoroughly is as important as the cleaning itself to avoid any potential for mildew growth.

Now that you’ve completed this step, it’s time to move on and turn our attention to the main body of the shoe. We’ll delve into that in our next section.

Scrub the Exterior

After understanding the necessity of cleaning the insoles and laces, let’s move to the next vital cleaning procedure: scrubbing the exterior. Since water shoes often come directly in contact with dirt, grime, and bacteria, this step cannot be overlooked. The exterior should be thoroughly cleaned to maintain shoe durability and promote high performance.

When it comes to choosing a cleaner, don’t just grab the most potent detergent available. What’s imperative is choosing a cleaning agent that’s both effective and gentle on your shoes. Stick to a mild soap or detergent. A harsh detergent can deteriorate your water shoes over time, leading to decreased lifespan and performance.

Prepare a cleaning solution

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide for preparing a cleaning solution:

  1. Fill a bucket or basin with warm water.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent to create a soapy solution.

The process is straightforward, but keep in mind that too much detergent can leave residue on your shoes, affecting their comfort and durability.

Start scrubbing! Use a soft-bristle brush to remove stubborn dirt and stains from the surface of your shoes. It’s critical to be thorough but gentle – you don’t want to tear or damage your shoes in the cleaning process. Scrub the upper fabric, rubber sole, and crevices where dirt might be hiding. This will not just remove visible dirt but also knock out the unseen bacteria that causes unpleasant odors.

After thoroughly scrubbing the exterior, you’ll likely notice a considerable difference in the appearance of your shoes. However, cleaning doesn’t stop here. There’s another critical step on “how to wash water shoes” tour – Rinsing! If you’re keen on knowing how to rinse your water shoes properly, continue reading. Super clean, fresh-smelling water shoes are closer than you think.

Clean the Insoles

After you’ve worked your way over the exterior of your water shoes, it’s time to zone in on those insoles. They’re the part of your shoes that have the most contact with your feet. Insoles can be a hotbed for sweat, dust, and bacteria – which are the prime contributors to unpleasant odors.

To clean the insoles, you need to remove them from the shoes first. Be careful as you do this to prevent tearing them. If the insoles are sewn into the shoes and cannot be removed, there’s no need to worry. You can still clean them while they’re inside the shoes.

Next, you’ll want to mix a solution of warm water and mild detergent in a basin or sink. It’s worth noting the temperature of the water here. Hot water can warp the shape of the insoles and cold water won’t dissolve the detergent as effectively. The mild detergent is easy on the materials of the insole and it effectively breaks down oils that water alone can’t handle.

Immerse the insoles in this cleaning solution. Use a soft brush to scrub away any stubborn dirt particles clinging on to the embossed patterns or crevices. Be sure to flip the insoles over and clean both sides.

It’s of utmost importance to remember not to be rough with your scrubbing. Hard scrubbing can degrade the comfortable padding of the insole. Remember, we’re going for a gentle, thorough cleanse.

Rinse the insoles under a stream of clean water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Without wringing them, leave them to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight as it can make the insoles hard and crispy.

Keeping the insoles of your water shoes clean and free from odors doesn’t just lend a fresh smell to your shoes. It also prevents the growth of fungi and bacteria which can lead to infections. Now we’ve got these insole cleaning essentials down, let’s move on to the next part of your water shoes’ wellness routine.

Air Dry the Water Shoes

Air Dry the Water Shoes

So, you’ve done a great job scrubbing the insoles of your water shoes. The next stage in the cleaning process cannot be overlooked: Air drying.

Why is air drying so important? It’s simple. Moisture breeds bacteria and fungus, which are common causes of unpleasant smells. Besides, moisture can lead to the deterioration of your shoes over time. So, you’ll want to make sure your shoes are thoroughly dried before storing them away.

Here’s how to air dry your water shoes effectively.

You’re already winning half the battle if you’ve rinsed your shoes properly, taking care to shake off any excess water. After this, you should place your shoes and insoles in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight to air dry. Why avoid direct sunlight, you ask? Exposure to extreme sunlight can potentially warp the shape and material of your shoes, hence our advice to stick with shade or indoor ventilation.

And don’t forget: patience is key here. Your shoes may take a good 24 to 48 hours to fully dry, particularly if you’re dealing with heavier or more robust models of water shoes.

Use of a fan in the room can speed up the drying process. But remember never to use any form of artificial heat like a hairdryer or heater. You might think such tools will fast track the drying process, but in reality, they’ll likely cause damage to your water shoes’ material and shape.

Ready for a few quickfire tips to speed that drying process up?

  • Insert paper towels: Placing paper towels inside the shoes can help to absorb any extra moisture, reducing the drying time.
  • Prop up: Standing the shoes upright with the toe-end facing up can help any residual water to run out.


So there you have it! By now, you’ve got the know-how to clean your water shoes effectively. Remember, it’s all about the drying process. Air drying is your best friend here, helping to keep bacteria and unpleasant odors at bay. Avoid the temptation to speed things up with a hairdryer, as this can damage your shoes. Instead, opt for a well-ventilated spot, out of direct sunlight, and give your shoes a good 24 to 48 hours to dry out completely. Use paper towels to soak up extra moisture and keep those shoes upright for the best drainage. With these tips in your arsenal, you’re ready to keep your water shoes in top-notch condition for many adventures to come.

Why is air drying water shoes important?

Air drying your water shoes after cleaning the insoles is key to preventing bacterial growth and unwanted odors. This process also helps to avoid moisture-related issues that could potentially harm the shoes over time.

What is the recommended technique to dry water shoes?

Place your water shoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight for approximately 24 to 48 hours. Avoid using artificial heat sources like hairdryers as they could cause damage.

Can I expedite the drying process using paper towels?

Yes, to hasten drying, you can place paper towels inside the shoes to absorb excess moisture.

How should I position my shoes during the drying process?

Prop your shoes upright during the drying process. This position helps to facilitate water drainage, ensuing a thorough and even drying effect.