How to Clean Sperry Top-Siders

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Clean your Sperry-Topsiders whenever they're dirty.
Clean your Sperry-Topsiders whenever they're dirty. (Image: mrfox19/iStock/Getty Images)

After years of working to create a slip-resistant boat shoe, Paul Sperry, an avid sailor, had an epiphany one day as he watched his dog run across ice without sliding. The dog’s grooved paws provided grip -- just what the boat shoe soles needed. According to the Sperry website, Sperry carved grooves in the rubber soles of his shoes and, in 1935, the Sperry Top-Sider was born. The shoes became popular among the masses -- men and women alike, whether they’re boaters or not -- and proper care can help prolong the life of your Sperrys.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Cold water
  • Laundry detergent
  • Shoe brush or toothbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Leather shoe cleaner, for leather
  • Soft cloth
  • Leather conditioner, for leather
  • Cornmeal, for suede
  • Suede brush
  • Suede bar

Canvas Top-Siders

Step 1

Fill a bucket with cold water and detergent.

Step 2

Remove the shoelaces from the shoes.

Step 3

Tap the soles of the shoes together to remove any loose dirt.

Step 4

Use a dry, soft-bristled shoe brush or toothbrush to brush off any dirt from the canvas.

Step 5

Dip the brush in the water and detergent solution, and brush the canvas in a circular pattern until stains are removed, redipping in the detergent solution as needed.

Step 6

Rinse the shoes with clean water until the soap is gone.

Step 7

Place wadded paper towels in the shoes while they dry to help them retain their shape.

Full-Grain Leather Top-Siders

Step 1

Remove the shoelaces from the shoes.

Step 2

Tap the soles of the shoes together to remove any loose dirt.

Step 3

Use a dry, soft-bristled shoe brush or toothbrush to brush off any dirt from the leather.

Step 4

Apply the leather cleaner to the shoes, and use a soft cloth to gently work it into the leather.

Step 5

Let the shoes dry for 20 minutes, and then polish with a leather conditioner. Let them dry for 24 hours.

Suede Top-Siders

Step 1

Remove the shoelaces from the shoes.

Step 2

Tap the soles of the shoes together to remove any loose dirt.

Step 3

Sprinkle cornmeal onto the suede surface of the shoes. Rub it in gently, and let the shoes sit overnight.

Step 4

Brush the cornmeal off with a suede brush.

Step 5

Use a suede bar to remove any remaining stains, and use the suede brush again to brush the suede back into shape.

Tip

  • Before you wear your leather or suede Sperry Top-Siders, use a water-repellent spray that's appropriate for suede or leather to help protect them from the elements.

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