How to Wash Boat Shoes


Boat shoes may be seen as an accouterment of a life of luxury, but from their non-skid soles to their admiralty brass eyelets, they're made for a tough life. Worn aboard a boat, they'll suffer soakings in salt water and paint being dripped on them, while providing a mariner the comfort of a moccasin and a steady gait on a slippery, moving deck. All they need is to be cleaned and shined when you come ashore.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean rags
  • Paint thinner
  • Water
  • Saddle soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Shoe polish
  • Unlace the shoe, remove the inner sole, and slip the shoe on to one hand.

  • Remove paint stains by soaking the corner of a clean rag in paint thinner, then scrubbing the area with the rag. Wipe the shoe down with water and a clean rag.

  • Use a clean rag to apply a very small dab (a quarter-teaspoon) of saddle soap (which is in a paste form) to the shoe. Dip the rag in water, then rub the saddle soap in a circular motion, overlapping each time. Use a toothbrush to scrub the seams and the welt (where the rubber sole joins the leather upper). This will remove encrusted sea salt and some oil stains.

  • Wipe the saddle soap from the shoe with another clean rag and dry the shoe.

  • Polish the shoe as you normally would. Any remaining stains are reminders of "that time."

Tips & Warnings

  • Some people will judge you by the shine on your shoes, even after a thorough cleaning. But confronted with oil stains, perhaps a drop of paint, and brass eyelets that have gone from shiny gold to dull greenish brown, knowing persons will smile.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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