how to clean sperrys

Sperrys are great for days out on the boat, yard work, and everyday wear. Tons of people wear their Sperrys every day of the year because they’re comfortable and durable, but so much wear can cause some serious tear from feet sweat, dirt, and scuffs. What do you do when you finally decide to take a day off from wearing them for cleaning? Since Sperrys are either full grain leather, suede, or nubuck based, it can be a tricky task to get every part of them clean. We’ve put together a guide on how to clean Sperrys without the risk of damaging their leather and laces.

Before You Do Anything, Make Sure You Know What You’re Working With:

Full Grain Leather

leather sperrys

Feels like leather; just feel your car seats or couch to make sure your shoes have the same feel.


suede sperrys

Feels velvety and is more rugged than nubuck.


nubuck sperrys

Has a smooth and velvety feel as well but is softer than suede. It has been sanded down and scars easily.


Before you clean your shoes, make sure to remove the shoelaces and insoles if you can to wash separately. Sperry shoe laces will get matted and knotted if you wash them in the washing machine, so only hand wash them if necessary.

Also, beware of specialty Sperrys that may have faux fur, metallic leather, and sequins because these will need to be treated with special care.

If your Sperrys have removable insoles you can clean them by scrubbing baking soda on both sides using a toothbrush. Rinse them with cold water and the stains and feet odors should be gone.

To prevent salt stains after your Sperrys are exposed to salt water, rinse your shoes with fresh water to remove all salt. Saltwater will dry and damage your shoe by leaving salt stains so try to rinse them as soon as you’re back on dry land. Then, stuff your shoes with news paper and allow them to air dry for 24 hours.

Cleaning Suede Sperrys


suede sperry brush

First, wait for any mud or dirt to dry on the shoes. Use a toothbrush or suede brush to gently brush your suede Sperrys to remove any dust, debris, or dirt. Remember to gently brush with the grain of the suede. If you aren’t gentle enough with your brushing, your suede can become scarred. Brushing your shoes can help remove salt and water stains, caked on dirt, and scuff marks. Then, follow the next step.


steaming sperrys

By using a steamer or kettle, apply steam to your shoes from about a foot away to further loosen and dirt/debris and to raise the nap of the suede. Brush the shoes again to lift the nap and to clear out remaining marks.

Suede Bar

Use a suede bar to get rid of any remaining stains and flattened areas after brushing and applying the steam. After you have applied the suede bar to your Sperrys, brush the shoes one more time and then treat them with a suede protective spray and allow them to dry for 24 hours.  

Cleaning Full Grain Leather Sperrys

Soap and Water

using soap and water to clean sperrys

Remove the insoles and shoe laces if possible. Then, dunk your Sperrys in a bucket of cool water (hot water may cause the leather to shrink) or spray them with cool water using a spray bottle. Apply one tablespoon of mild dish soap onto the outside of your shoe. Using a toothbrush or leather brush, lather the soap and spread it over the entire exterior of the shoe. Now, dunk or spray your insoles with cold water and scrub them with mild dish soap as well. If they’re especially smelly, sprinkle baking soda or foot powder over the dry insoles before scrubbing them with the brush. Make sure to not get any of the powder on the leather because this could damage it. Now, let your shoes and insoles dry for 24 hours.

Nail Polish Remover

nail polish remover to remove stains on sperrys

You can use nail polish remover to remove surface stains from your full grain leather Sperrys. Dampen any area of your shoe(s) with cool water. Using acetone nail polish remover, soak a cotton ball with the remover and blot stubborn stains. Dab the area with the soaked cotton ball until the entire stain has been lifted from the leather. Make sure to not scrub the nail polish remover on the shoe because it can damage the leather. Now, allow your shoes to dry for 24 hours. 

Leather Cleaner

leather cleaner

The first step to cleaning your Sperrys with leather cleaner is to remove the insoles from the shoes. Wash your insoles with soapy water by dipping a toothbrush or leather brush in soapy warm water. Scrub both sides thoroughly and to remove foul odors, scrub the insoles with baking powder or foot powder using a toothbrush. When you’re finished cleaning your insoles, apply a small amount of specialized leather cleaner or Sperry-specific leather cleaner to a soft cloth and massage it to create a lather on the cloth. Gently scrub the entire exterior of your shows the soapy cloth in small circular motions while paying extra attention to notably dirtied areas. You can use a toothbrush or leather brush to scrub out tough dirt and debris from the shoes. Then, gently apply leather conditioner into the surface of your shoes and allow them to dry for 24 hours out of direct sunlight so the leather doesn't dry out. 

Cleaning Nubuck Sperrys 

Rubber Bristled Brush

rubber bristled brush

After waiting for mud or dirt to dry on the nubuck, use a rubber bristled brush to loosen and remove and dirt and debris from your Sperrys. Other brushes like nylon can cause scarring and will have your shoes looking worse than when you started. 

Suede Bar

suede bar

Use a suede bar to rub out any stains or marks from your Sperrys. If you wish to deep clean and condition, dampen the suede bar and gently rub it into your shoes. After you use the Suede bar, re-brush to lift the nap of the nubuck and treat your shoes with a leather protective spray.

If you follow these steps to clean your different types of leather Sperrys, they should be looking as good as new in no time. If you remember to rinse them after being exposed to salt water and prevent the drying of leather, your shoes should stay in good shape in between cleanings.

Remember to check the Wireless Wipes Blog daily for new posts on cleaning tips, DIY hacks, how-tos, and more! 



Sources:, wikihow.

Images:,,,, wikihow.