How do I clean suede indoor slippers with sheepskin linings?
October 11, 2018 5:31 AM   Subscribe

How to clean a pair of suede slippers with sheepskin linings without buying fancy suede or sheepskin cleaning products?

I have found the perfect pair of indoor slippers that I hope would keep my feet off the cold tile floor. Unfortunately, I am worried about sweating into the sheepskin linings. I've had some success removing stains from suede shoes in the past with white vinegar but how do I keep the insides fresh and fluffy without getting the suede wet?

I would prefer not to spend money on costly cleaning kits and wonder if there are common household cleaning supplies I could use to clean them. Can I clean them with the eucalyptus detergent I use for wool/silk or tea tree Dr. Bronner's?
posted by whitelotus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A quick Google search seems to suggest you can hand wash them. Have you contacted the retailer to see if they have recommended care instructions?
posted by XtineHutch at 5:37 AM on October 11, 2018

XtineHutch: I asked the seller (these are knockoffs, not name-brand from a big company) and he suggested just wiping them with a damp cloth but I'm pretty sure that it will not be enough to get ingrained dirt and sweat out.

I'm considering wiping the insides with diluted Cetaphil.
posted by whitelotus at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2018

I've cleaned mine in my front loader, cold water with a tiny capful of shampoo, short cycle. Do not put in dryer. Let air dry and maybe stuff with clean newsprint type paper to hold the shape. Works a treat!
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have expensive moosehide slippers from LLBean with a shearling lining. I dithered and fretted about cleaning them until they were a little stinky, and then I broke down and sent them through the washing machine. They’re fine!!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:06 AM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it is truly sheepskin/shearling, others have provided excellent advice.

My wife runs the only (known) all-natural sheep & goat (and alpaca) skin tannery in North America and she has a product care section on the website in case it is of interest/help.
posted by terrapin at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

So, this is probably too labor-intensive for everyone but me, but what I did does offer quite a lot of control over the process, so if you're interested in putting a lot of time and elbow grease in and getting very fine control back, here's how I took care of my fancy shearling slippers from LL Bean, after they had gotten truly grody and were falling apart and the fleece was decidedly un-fleecy:

- Unlace the rawhide that fastens the upper to the lower, so each slipper is now in two parts. (If your slippers are stitched together and in good shape, you can leave them in one piece, it just makes the brushing step a bit harder.)
- Submerge in cool water (I think I did it in a bucket), and wash the fleece part with shampoo. I may have used conditioner too. You want to get it really soapy, and then rinse thoroughly. I think I washed it a few times, with rinses, but I really cannot overstate how gross my slippers had gotten. (Regular soap is probably fine, honestly, or your eucalyptus detergent.)
- Air-dry the slippers *completely*, which might take a day or two.
- To get it to stop being mashed up and near-felted, I actually used hand-carders to raise the nap of the fleece and brush it out all nice and soft and fluffy. If you are not a spinner or don't know one, one of those flat wire pet brushes are basically the same thing and do not cost an actual small fortune.
- Since the old lacing had seen better days, I used some marline I had lying around to re-lace the upper to the sole. The sueded outside was a little hard right after drying, but once you wear them a few times, it softens up nicely -- I'm wearing these slippers now, and the outside is soft and very pliable. If your slippers are the same form factor, rawhide shoelaces are probably a good substitute; anything very strong and stiff would work.

This did take some time, but I had very precise control and could see what was happening at each stage, which I really appreciated. My slippers are good as new now too!
posted by kalimac at 11:03 AM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is very one-weird-trick!, but Jolie Kerr (of Ask a Clean Person) has recommended putting fur- or fleece-lined slippers in a bag with cornmeal - "essentially, Shake'N Bake for your shoes" - when they become matted and dirty.

I swear to God I'm not Jolie Kerr; she's just the first person I think of when people have questions about cleaning!
posted by Anita Bath at 1:44 PM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

kalimac: I'm truly awed by your technique but I just don't think I'm gonna put so much effort into cleaning a pair of cheap knockoffs.

terrapin: What your wife is doing is amazingly cool! Mefites are so awesome :) I visited the website and the product care section is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm a handspinner and have spun wool from most of the breeds your wife has tanned as well as alpaca (I have a project on the loom with handspun alpaca right now beside me as I type).

I'm just not familiar with the skins and it never occurred to me that there are sheepskin rugs from specific breeds available for sale since all the ones I have seen were just generic skins from Australia (presumably merino). I've always wanted to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool too, but living on another continent, that's kinda difficult...

Wishing you a flourishing business!!
posted by whitelotus at 7:58 PM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older Powder eyeliner reccs   |   A lamp that dims on its own at bedtime Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments