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  • March 31, 2021 3 min read

    "My Soles are Dirty, How Do I Clean Them?"

    This is a common question and an easy project to tackle with a few basic items you probably already have at home. It IS possible and quite simple to get them looking almost brand new.

    Word to the wise: To keep your soles cleaner longer and prevent damage to the suede, we always recommend you wear your Astoria felt slippers only indoors.  If you take them outdoors, wear them only on surfaces that won't transfer dirt or risk damaging the leather - like an outdoor rug, or a clean deck or patio.

    Walking on damp surfaces; rough or rocky surfaces or actual dirt will stain and could damage your soles permanently. Pre-treating with a waterproof suede protector spray will also help prevent dirt and junk from working it's way into the leather. 

    Please note: This guide is for the tan soles - For the noir (black suede) soles, we recommend cleaning only with Step #3: Restoring the Nap, as the suede will color transfer. Spot test before using any cleaning products on your black soles. 

    Keep reading for our step by step guide to sole care:

    Step 1: Gather your care supplies 

    • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol OR white vinegar for a more natural approach. White vinegar works well, but rubbing alcohol is the most effective tool for a deep clean. We advise that rubbing alcohol should be used sparingly as it will dry the suede. If you plan to clean your soles often, we recommend an initial deep clean with rubbing alcohol, and follow up cleans with white vinegar.
    • A clean, absorbent rag with texture for scrubbing 
    • A medium stiff brush for restoring the nap

    Other cleaning options: We have also heard from a customer that "Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Foam Cleaner" with the brush on top "has cleaned them up beautifully." They told us they followed the instructions on the bottle as they would for upholstery, using the brush to gently work the product into the suede. This product isn't recommended by Woolite for use on leather, so use at your own risk, but we can't imagine one cleaning would do much damage. 

    What have you tried? What you can take away from this, is that there are a wide variety of ways to get your soles clean with products you probably already have. Spot test first to see if your cleaning product changes color or dries out the suede. Then let us know what you had success with so we can add it to our felt slipper care guide!

    Step 2: Scrubbing & Drying

    • Wet your rag with the rubbing alcohol and scrub the suede until dirt and stains are no longer visible, and dirt is no longer coming off on the rag. 
    • You may want to use a couple of clean rags for this process so you can see if dirt is still coming out. 
    • Allow your soles to dry for several hours.
    • You may want to repeat this cleaning process if when dry, the soles are not as clean as you'd like. 


    The sole shown in the image has been scrubbed and is damp from the rubbing alcohol. 

    Step 3: Restoring the Nap

    • Make sure the suede is fully dry.
    • Use your medium bristle brush to brush the suede til the 'nap' texture returns. 
    • Be cautious at first to make sure your brush isn't too stiff. You may damage the suede of your pressure or brush bristles are too firm. 


    Photo: Before and after cleaning, drying and restoring the nap. Almost as good as new!


    Read our Care Guide for more tips and tricks