Cleaning & Care Tips to Make Your Barefoot Shoes Last Longer

For many, buying a new pair of shoes feels like a commitment; one that is given careful consideration and, if you’re buying a high-end brand, typically comes with a pretty hefty price tag, too. When you factor in all that goes into buying new footwear, money included, one of the top priorities should be maintaining the shoes to ensure that they last as long as possible.

Of course, the wrong cleaning methods for specific types of materials could do even more damage than not cleaning or caring for the shoes at all! This is, perhaps, why many people don’t attempt to clean their barefoot shoes (also known as minimalist or natural footwear) to begin with. While the thought of being responsible for ruining your favourite shoes can be scary, leaving them to deteriorate with all that comes with regular use is far worse! 

With that in mind, today, we are sharing the best care and cleaning tips to keep your barefoot shoes in tiptop condition! Let’s get started.

Pre-Treatment for All Barefoot Shoes

The instructions below are applicable for all types of natural footwear. 

  • Use a soft brush to remove dry mud and loose debris from the outer material of the shoe. 
  • Remove the laces and soak them in a soapy cleaning solution made with laundry detergent and warm water. Rinse and dry them thereafter.
  • Wipe all around the edges of the soles with a damp cloth.
  • Brush the outsoles of the shoes, and wipe them with a damp cloth to remove as much dirt as possible. This will make the rest of the cleaning process less messy. 

After you have pre-treated your barefoot shoes, you can proceed to clean them using a material-specific method. To learn how to clean different types of barefoot shoes, take a look at our safe and effective cleaning guides below.

How to Clean Fabric Barefoot Shoes

As tempting as it may be to put fabric shoes in a laundry bag and throw them in the washer, unless the shoe manufacturer recommends machine-washing, it is best to clean the outer fabric by hand.

Follow the steps below to remove dirt and stains from your fabric footwear.

  • Make a mild fabric cleaner by combining two cups of water and two teaspoons of liquid dish soap. Give it a good mix so that you have a nice soapy solution to work with.
  • Use a soft toothbrush or cleaning brush to scrub the fabric gently. Dampen the bristles in the cleaning solution, and clean in the direction of the grain, section by section. Rinse the bristles as they gather dirt, and soak up excess moisture or brown suds from the fabric using paper towels. Continue to scrub the shoes with the cleaning solution until the dirt and stain are removed.
  • Using a clean, white microfibre cloth, dampen it with water, and wipe the fabric repeatedly to remove the soapy residue.
  • Soak up as much moisture as you can using paper towels, and then place the shoes in a well-ventilated spot (away from direct sunlight) to air-dry. Be sure to stuff some paper towels into the shoes to help maintain their original shape while drying.

  • How to Clean Synthetic Barefoot Shoes

    If you’ve got mesh trainers or any type of minimalist footwear made from synthetic material, you will find cleaning them relatively easy. It’s important to note that the more regularly they are cleaned, the less likely the material is to develop stubborn, set-in stains.

    Follow the steps below to deep clean your synthetic barefoot shoes by hand.

  • Take out the insoles and clean them separately. A soft brush and a mild cleaning solution consisting of dish soap and water will suffice.
  • In a basin, mix warm water and clear liquid laundry detergent (enough to make a mild cleanser for your synthetic shoes to soak).
  • Spot clean any marks or stains on the material using the solution and a sponge or cloth.
  • Place the shoes in the basin and press down on the material gently. This will allow the cleaning solution to pass through the mesh and push out dirt. 
  • Ensure that the footwear is completely submerged, and allow it to soak for up to half an hour.
  • Rinse the footwear under cool running water to remove all traces of the detergent. Try to squeeze out as much water as you can by lightly pressing the material. Avoid squeezing the shoes tightly or out of their original shape.
  • Leave the washed footwear to dry away from direct sunlight.

  • How to Clean Leather Barefoot Shoes

    Although you may see some cleaning methods suggesting homemade solutions, we strongly recommend using specially formulated products to safely clean and preserve your barefoot leather shoes.

    Whether genuine or faux, moisture can cause leather to lose shape, texture, and colour, and therefore, requires commercial cleaning products that do not use water or other damaging liquids to clean the material. It is best to use a natural leather cleaner or one that is recommended by the manufacturer of the shoes. 

    Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label, and finish off with a leather conditioner to keep your leather looking as good as new!

    How to Protect Your Barefoot Shoes

    Protection is everything when it comes to truly maintaining or preserving your footwear. Along with keeping dirt and stains at bay, damage caused by water and outdoor elements can be avoided with the right protectants. 

    • For leather, wax is definitely a great choice of protectant, however, be aware that some wax products may slightly darken the colour of the leather. 
    • Water-proofing barefoot fabric shoes regularly will save you the trouble of scrubbing away stains while also preserving the fibres that are prone to weakening with prolonged exposure to moisture.
    • Suitable water protectants for synthetic shoes are also advised if you want to retain their new appearance.

    Additional Maintenance Tips

    • Air out your minimalist footwear for a few hours after use and then store them away
    • Never store shoes that are damp or sweaty
    • Avoid direct sunlight if the shoes are wet/damp
    • When not in use, stuff shoes with crushed newspaper to keep them in shape
    • Store shoes in boxes away from hot/humid areas
    • Spot clean stains immediately to avoid permanent marks
    • Reapply protectants as suggested by the product manufacturers to ensure that your barefoot shoes are protected all through the year


    Considering the many benefits that come with healthy barefoot shoes, the price you pay for a pair may be slightly higher than the average modern shoe. With that in mind, shoe care and maintenance goes a long way in preserving natural footwear, therefore, making your investment all the more worthwhile. With regular cleaning using the simple cleaning guides above, coupled with the tips to protect footwear from weathering, you can make your favourite pair of barefoot shoes last for years to come!


    The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read the full Terms and Conditions & Disclaimer here.