How to Clean Waterproof Shoes: 4 Tips

About the Author

Daniel Shemtob

He was on Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race", ultimately winning Season 2. Soon after he launched multiple trucks and brand partnerships, progressing into his Brick and Mortar TLT Food (The Lime Truck), first store launched in Westwood in 2012. As well as a high-end restaurant in 2018, called Hatch Yakitori + Bar, a Japanese Yakitori restaurant based in downtown LA and winner of LA Weekly's "Best Yakitori Restaurant". He then partnered with Dr. Snibbe for a fully functioning work shoe that blends aesthetics and functionality called Snibbs. He’s on a mission to enrich worker’s lives, one shoe at a time by creating a work shoe that's inspired by everything that's wrong with the one you're probably still wearing.
How to Clean Waterproof Shoes

Waterproof shoes protect your feet and keep them warm and dry in wet conditions, but they can get dirty over time. The dirt and mud that accumulate on the surface can also reduce the effectiveness of water-resistant and waterproof shoes since the outer coat can be rubbed off or abated. So, cleaning and maintaining your shoes is important to keep them looking new and keep them waterproof. When the waterproof layer on your shoes breaks down, water can seep into your shoes, making your feet cold and wet. To ensure the longevity of your shoes, you’ll need to give them a thorough clean every once in a while.

To ensure your waterproof shoes are kept in the best possible shape, you need to follow a few steps. Whether you're trying to keep your work shoes slip-resistant or waterproof, follow along for how to clean waterproof shoes properly and prolong their life.

1. Brush Off Any Dirt or Mud

The first step in this shoe care process is to remove the laces and brush off any dirt and mud. This will ensure that no dirt or mud gets caught in the cleaning process and damages the shoe's waterproofing membrane.

You can use a soft brush to gently remove any loose dirt or mud from the surface of the entire shoe. If there are any stubborn spots, you can use a damp cloth to remove them.

2. Wash with Soap and Water

When it comes to cleaning your waterproof shoes, the next step is washing them with cleaning gel, or soap and water. The key to properly washing your waterproof shoes is to use a gentle, non-detergent soap and warm water. Avoid harsh soaps and detergents as they can strip the shoes of their waterproofing material. Follow these steps for the cleanest shoes:

  • Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and add soap
  • Place your shoes in the soapy water mixture
  • Gently scrub away any stubborn spots, dirt, or mud
  • Use a soft brush or cloth to help break up any stains

Make sure you reach any crevices or seams where dirt may have built up. Once you have scrubbed the dirt away, make sure to rinse off any soap residue.

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3. Rinse Thoroughly

After you’ve washed your shoes with soap and water, be sure to rinse them thoroughly. You want to ensure that all of the soap is removed and that it won’t leave any residue behind. To do this, use a bucket or fill your skin with clean, cold water and let it run over the shoes until all of the suds have been removed.

Once you’ve finished rinsing the shoes, make sure to use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess water. This will help them dry more quickly and prevent any potential staining or discoloration from any residue. Make sure to also check the laces and insole for any lingering soap or dirt, as these areas can be easy to miss when cleaning.

4. Let them Air Dry

Once you’ve rinsed them thoroughly, it’s time to let them dry. First, you’ll want to remove any excess moisture with a soft cloth or towel. After the shoes have mostly dried, leave them in an airy location like a porch, balcony, or open window. Avoid direct sunlight, which can damage the waterproof shoe material.

If possible, place a fan on a low setting in the same room as your shoes to speed up the drying process. It may also help to stuff the inside of your shoes with newspaper or a dry cloth while they dry. This will help absorb excess moisture and shape your shoes back to their original form. Ensure you avoid storing wet shoes in a closed container, as this can lead to mold and mildew growth.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Improper shoe care and cleaning can damage your waterproof shoes. Some common mistakes to avoid when cleaning your shoes include:

  • Not brushing off dirt and mud: When mud and dirt accumulate on your shoes, they can cause damage to the fabric or leather of the shoe as well as the waterproof material. Before tackling any type of cleaning, it is imperative to thoroughly brush away any dry mud or loose dirt from the surface of your shoes.
  • Not rinsing thoroughly: Once you've scrubbed your shoes clean with soap and water, be sure to completely rinse them off. If soap remains on the shoes, it could deteriorate the fabric over time.
  • Not letting them air dry: After you've rinsed your shoes, let them air dry in a cool and well-ventilated area. Avoid using direct heat, such as a hair or clothes dryer, as this can cause the material to shrink or weaken.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you'll be able to keep your waterproof shoes looking new for many years to come.

Find Your Next Pair at Snibbs

While regular maintenance and cleaning are essential to keep your water and oil-resistant shoes working properly, you’ll typically need to replace them after a while. Whether you’re searching for slip-resistant restaurant shoes or want to compare buying water repellent vs. waterproof shoes for your next adventure, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you're tackling difficult projects, dealing with liquid spills, or stepping through the rain, comfort and safety are our top priorities.

Face whatever the day throws at you with our water-resistant shoes.



  1. Snowys. How to Waterproof, Clean & Condition Hiking Boots.
  2. USA Today. How to Wash and Maintain Waterproof Shoes and Clothing.