How to Clean Keen Shoes

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While Keen offers a wide variety of men's and women's apparel, its strappy, mesh-y active footwear characterizes the manufacturer's lineup of shoes. Because these styles cater to hiking and outdoor wear, they call for relatively simple and straightforward cleaning techniques. Each shoe's care needs vary, though -- the key to cleaning your Keens depends on what sort of material the shoe is made from.

Synthetics

Keen's distinct styles of activewear shoes for women, men and children often feature webbed uppers and solid outsole elements made of waterproof materials such as polyurethane, rubber, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), or other synthetic, water-wicking materials. When it's time for a cleaning, start by removing loose dirt with a soft rag or a stiff-bristled brush, and then thoroughly wipe the shoes down with a rag or sponge dipped in cold water and mild soap, such as gentle dish soap or detergent. Once you've cleaned them, allow the kicks to air dry in a cool environment away from direct sunlight.

Use this same method to freshen up footbeds -- remove the footbeds, give them a thorough wipe-down with soapy water, and then allow them to air dry in a mild, well-ventilated area.

Naturals

Some of keen's casual shoes and boots -- such as men's Portsmouth casual loafers and women's Tyretread riding-style boots -- feature leather uppers, often in full-grain leather or oiled nubuck. For a catch-all solution, pick up nubuck cleaner and leather conditioner from your local shoe store. Spray or wipe on a thin, even coat of the nubuck cleaner, and then wipe the surface clean with a soft, dry cloth. Follow this up with an application of conditioner. Gently rub the conditioner into the leather with another soft, dry cloth and let the conditioner set in for about two hours, then use a clean section of the cloth to buff away any excess conditioner.

Warning

  • Always spot test a small, inconspicuous area before using any cleaning products on your shoes.

Sandals

If you have Keen water sandals with leather or polyester uppers, you can simply toss them into the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent, and then allow the sandals to air dry in a shady environment.

A handful of Keen styles, such as the Brixen series, feature wool accents or lining. Remove dirt and debris from wool with a gentle brushing using a stiff-bristled brush, going against the wool's nap. If you have soiled wool or a tough spot, tackle it with a foaming cleaner specifically formulated for real wool. Follow the instructions provided by the cleaner's manufacturer, and then follow the application up with a dry brushing.

Warning

  • Never machine wash natural wool footwear, or you risk permanently damaging the shoe.

Odor Issues

Machine-washing your Keen's footbeds doesn't just clean them, it helps fight odor. If you still have stinky soles after cleaning the footbeds, Keen suggests applying an odor-absorbing powder directly to the footbed or rubbing a few drops of tea tree essential oil into the beds and upper lining.

Tip

  • Keen's website includes specific cleaning instructions for each of its currently offered shoes, so give it a visit before you set to scrubbing.

    If you need to order replacement laces to top off your freshly cleaned shoes, have additional care questions, or want to ask about your warranty, contact the manufacturer.

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