How to Clean Cork Shoes – 5 Easy Steps

Cork shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and environmentally friendly. However, like any shoe material, cork can get dirty over time. Cleaning your cork shoes regularly will help extend their life and keep them looking like new. Follow these 5 easy steps to clean your cork shoes at home.

Supplies Needed:

  • Soft brush (old toothbrush or shoe brush)
  • Mild dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Soft towel
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

Now let’s go through the 5 easy steps to clean Cork Shoes:

Step 1: Remove Laces and Clean Soles

Start by removing the laces from your cork shoes. This allows you to fully clean the uppers without damaging the laces. Use a soft bristle brush and warm water to gently scrub the cork soles and crevices. This will remove any deeply embedded dirt or debris.

Step 2: Create a Cleaning Solution

In a bowl, mix together warm water, a small amount of mild dish soap, and a tablespoon of baking soda. The soap will cut through dirt and oils, while the baking soda will help remove stains and odors.

Step 3: Clean Uppers

Dip the soft brush into the cleaning solution. Gently scrub the cork upper, using circular motions. Make sure to get into crevices and seams. The brush allows you to apply light pressure without damaging the cork. Continue dipping the brush and cleaning the entire upper.

Step 4: Rinse Shoes

Once finished scrubbing, rinse the cork shoes under warm running water. This removes all soap residue that could break down the cork over time. Stuff the shoes with a towel to help them retain their shape as they dry.

Step 5: Dry Completely

Allow the cork shoes to air dry completely, away from direct sunlight or heat. The cork needs to dry fully to avoid damage. Once totally dry, the shoes will look clean and renewed!

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Cork Shoes:

  • Soaking – Avoid fully soaking cork shoes in water as this can cause them to expand and lose their shape.
  • Harsh cleaners – Stick to mild dish soap and gentle scrubbing. Avoid bleach, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals.
  • Direct heat – Never place wet cork shoes directly into the sun or use a hairdryer. Allow them to air dry at room temperature.
  • Machine washing – The agitation and water pressure can damage the cork material. Always hand wash.
  • Storing wet – Cork can mold or rot if not fully dried before storing.

By following these simple cleaning steps and avoiding potential damage, you can keep your cork shoes looking fresh and new for many wears to come. Regular light cleaning will extend the life of the shoes.

Be sure to check for wear on the soles as well, and replace cork footbeds if needed. With proper care, your cork shoes will be comfortable, sustainable favorites for years of walking in style and comfort.


Cork shoes are a smart, comfortable choice. But like any shoe material, they need periodic cleaning to look their best. By using mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft brush, you can easily remove dirt and stains at home.

Allowing them to fully air dry and avoiding soaking or harsh chemicals will help extend their life. Follow these 5 easy steps to clean cork shoes and keep them fresh and durable for many more steps ahead.

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