Useful Ways on How to Clean Boat Shoes Quickly

Boat shoes, also known as deck shoes or top-siders, were previously used for smoothly traveling while working on the ship. They were inspired by Paul A. Sperry after he went for a walk with his dog on ice. He then founded the company Sperry Top-Sider, and it was known for its brand of these shoes. Therefore, when talking about the boat shoes produced by this company, people also often call them Sperry shoes.

In 1980, through “The Official Preppy Handbook” – a book about preppy fashion guide, written by Lisa Birnbach, boat shoes began to be identified as an important and indispensable part of the preppy style. Then even those who were not preppy but still loved and must have a pair of boat shoes in their shoe cabinets.

How to Clean Boat Shoes

How to Clean Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are variations from the sneaker with a low base combined a little with the design of the loafer. However, their colors and designs are much more various; thereby, proving their attractiveness. They are the perfect choice for men because they are easy to wear and take off and very comfortable to walk.

To keep boat shoes new and use them for a long time, you have to clean it regularly and correctly. However, boat shoes are made of different materials including canvas, leather, and suede so how to clean boat shoes is different for each type of boat shoes.

How to Clean Boat Shoes Made of Canvas

To clean the canvas Sperry shoes, it is necessary to determine the characteristics of this fabric. You should not use strong chemicals with this type of boat shoes because they can deform the canvas fibers; moreover, they do not as smooth and pleasant as the new purchase. In addition, boat shoes made of canvas have flexible forms so washing and drying them improperly also make the shape of the boat shoes to deteriorate.

Here are the steps to clean canvas shoes that you can refer:

  • Fill the basin with water. You should use lukewarm water because it helps to remove stains on boat shoes significantly faster.
  • Add a little washing powder or liquid to it and stir well until soap bubbles begin to form.
  • Slowly put your boat shoes into the basin of water so that they are submerged under water but do not let water overflow into them.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to dip into the basin and then rub over the surface of the shoes until all stains are removed, and the shoes are as bright as the new ones.
  • Rinse the boat shoes with water to get rid of soap bubbles thoroughly.
  • After that, wrap the boat shoes into a soft towel and then use your hands to squeeze it down into your shoes so that it can absorb water as much as possible. It helps your Sperry shoes dry quickly with losing their form.
  • Dry your boat shoes in a well-ventilated place and allow them to dry completely before storing them.

Note that you should not wear your boat shoes when the shoes are still wet because it can make them moldy and stains which appear then are difficult to remove.

How to Clean Boat Shoes Made of Suede

Suede boat shoes are always a favorite item of a majority of men. However, they are easily stuck by dust and slightly difficult to clean. If you want to keep your suede boat shoes used for a long time, apply the simple tips on how to clean boat shoe quickly at home without using chemicals.

Removing dust with a suede brush

Use a suede brush to rub on the surface of the boat shoes gently to get rid of dust. The reason is that it is neither too hard to hurt the suede surface nor too soft to eradicate dust.

When using the suede brush, you should brush continuously in the same direction in short marks so that your suede boat shoes are not scuffed.

Removing persistent scuff marks with an eraser or a nail file

With stubborn scuffs, an eraser or a nail file is a powerful aid in cleaning up suede boat shoes.

  • Using an eraser

Rub the eraser repeatedly on the scuff marks until you get all of them out of the shoes. Remember only to rub the affected area and avoid the rest.

  • Using a nail file

Warm the nail file over the fire and then rub it gently onto the dampened suede. Repeat the process until these persistent scuffs disappear.

Removing mud stains with a horsehair brush

When your boat shoes have mud stains, do not hurry to bring them to soak in the water. It can make the color of the sperrys change. The best way on how to boat shoes is to get them dry until you can peel mud stains off and brush gently again to remove these stains thoroughly.

Removing gum by using the freezer

That your boat shoes come with chewing gum will cause a lot of trouble for you. But don’t worry about that. Simply, you place your sperrys into the freezer. After a couple of hours, you take them out and easily remove gum from them.

Removing water stains with a sponge and rice vinegar

Rain splashing onto your suede boat shoes will make them look unattractive. However, getting rid of water stains is very simple. Use a sponge to dab over the surface of the shoes. You should keep your shoes by balling up papers and fill them.

Alternatively, you can dip the sponge into rice vinegar and rub it on the tough water stains to remove them completely.

How to Clean Boat Shoes Made of Leather

For your leather boat shoes, most of the people usually bring them to bootblacks to clean them. However, you can do cleaning approaching at home easily and quickly with the simple ways in the following.

Removing mold from the leather boat shoes

  • Mix 5 ml of fungicide with 500 ml of water in a bowl.
  • Dampen a sponge with this mixture and then rub gently on the affected area.
  • Use a cloth soaked with mouthwash to wipe them again.
  • Keep the leather boat shoes in a dry place and rub them with shoe polish.

Repairing cracks in the leather boat shoes

  • Dip an inkstick into egg whites and apply it evenly on the surface of the boat shoes.
  • Place them in a well-ventilated place until they are dry.
  • Add more a layer of shoe polish to the surface to have a pair of boat shoes as new ones.

Polishing the leather boat shoes

  • Using a banana peel

Using the inside of the banana peel instead of the cloth to wipe the leather shoes does not only remove dust and dirt but also make their surface shiny. It is because the banana peel contains a substance which acts to remove dust and protect the surface of the leather material. After rubbing the banana peel over the shoes’ exterior, use a cloth to wipe again until the boat shoes are dry.

  • Using expired milk

Thanks to substances in leftover or expired milk, you can clean your leather boat shoes. Not just that, they also help to preserve the shoes without cracking.

  • Using vinegar or lemon juice

Instead of only using shoe polish to shine your boat shoes, you can mix it with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to prevent dirt from sticking.

  • Using skin socks

You can make your boat shoes cleaner and shinier by wrapping the shoe brush with your old skin socks and rubbing them normally.


When you possess boat shoes with different materials, you may worry about the ways of cleaning them. However, your problems will be dealt with quickly when you apply the effective ways on how to clean boat shoes introduced above. You will use your boat shoes longer and save yourself a small amount of money to do your other plans instead of buying new ones.

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