Expert Guide: How to Wash Moccasins & Keep Them Like New

Washing moccasins can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re worried about preserving their shape and softness. I’ve been there, staring at my favorite pair, wondering if I’d ever get them clean without ruining them. It’s a common concern, but luckily, with the right approach, you can keep your moccasins looking and feeling great.

Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about caring for these delicate shoes. Whether they’re your go-to for indoor comfort or your stylish outdoor choice, I’ll share some tips and tricks to wash your moccasins effectively. Let’s dive into the best practices to ensure your favorite footwear remains in top-notch condition.

Key Takeaways

  • Select the Right Cleaning Method: Depending on the material, choose between hand washing and machine washing. Leather moccasins require gentle hand washing, while fabric moccasins can occasionally be machine washed on a delicate cycle.
  • Prepare Moccasins for Washing: Always remove insoles and laces, brush off loose dirt, and spot clean stains before proceeding with a full wash to ensure a thorough clean and to maintain the shape and integrity of your moccasins.
  • Gentle Handwashing Technique: For most moccasins, especially those made of delicate materials, handwashing with a mild soap solution and lukewarm water is recommended. Avoid soaking and harsh cleaning to preserve the material.
  • Careful Machine Washing Instructions: If machine washing, use a mesh laundry bag, a gentle cycle, and cold water. Protect delicate materials and ensure not to overload the machine for optimal results.
  • Proper Drying and Maintenance: Air dry moccasins away from direct heat or sunlight and stuff them to maintain shape. Post-drying, condition leather or suede to restore softness and protect against future damage.
  • Consistent Care Extends Life: Regular cleaning, conditioning, and deodorizing will keep moccasins looking and feeling new, prolonging their lifespan and ensuring they remain a valuable part of your wardrobe.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Method

When it comes to giving my moccasins a thorough clean, picking the right method is crucial. Over the years, I’ve learned that the choice between hand washing and machine washing depends heavily on the material of the moccasins. Leather moccasins require gentle care, whereas fabric-based ones can handle a bit more agitation.

For leather moccasins, I always opt for hand washing. Using a soft cloth, I gently apply a mixture of mild soap and water. It’s important not to soak them, as too much water can damage the leather. After cleaning, I pat them dry with a towel to remove excess moisture before letting them air dry.

On the other hand, fabric moccasins are a bit more forgiving. I still prefer hand washing for the best results, but when I’m short on time, I place them in a mesh laundry bag and select a delicate cycle on the washing machine. Cold water is a must to prevent any shrinking or fading.

Regardless of the method, removing the insoles and laces (if any) before cleaning is a step I never skip. This ensures a more thorough clean, reaching parts that are usually hard to get to when the moccasins are fully assembled.

I’ve also compiled a list of dos and don’ts that’s helped me avoid common mistakes:

  • Do use a soft-bristled brush for stubborn dirt.
  • Do condition leather moccasins after drying to maintain their softness.
  • Don’t expose your moccasins to direct heat or sunlight while drying.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the material.

By choosing the correct cleaning method and following these simple tips, my moccasins stay in pristine condition, ensuring they’re always ready for my next adventure, indoors or out.

Preparing Your Moccasins for Washing

Before diving into the washing process, it’s crucial to properly prepare your moccasins. This step ensures that not only do they come out looking fresh and clean but also maintain their shape and integrity for years.

Firstly, remove the insoles and laces if your moccasins come with them. These parts often require a different cleaning approach due to their material and structure. For the insoles, a gentle scrub with a mixture of mild soap and water will do the trick. Laces, on the other hand, can generally go into a mesh laundry bag and be tossed into the washing machine on a delicate cycle.

Next, give your moccasins a good brush-off. Using a soft-bristled brush, gently remove any loose dirt or debris. This step is especially important for suede or napped leather moccasins where dirt can become ingrained. It’s easy to overlook this step, but it makes a significant difference in the effectiveness of the cleaning process.

After brushing, assess the material of your moccasins. This is crucial because the material dictates the best cleaning method. Leather moccasins, for instance, require more care and should never be submerged in water. In contrast, fabric moccasins are more forgiving and can often withstand a gentle washing machine cycle.

Lastly, spot clean any stains before the main wash. For most materials, a simple solution of water and mild detergent will work. Apply the solution to the stained area and gently dab with a soft cloth. Avoid rubbing as this can spread the stain or damage the material. This preparatory spot cleaning can prevent setting stains during the wash cycle and is a step I always recommend.

By following these steps, you’re setting the stage for a successful cleaning. Proper preparation not only makes the washing process smoother but also extends the lifespan of your beloved moccasins.

Handwashing Your Moccasins

When it comes to cleaning moccasins, handwashing is my go-to method for ensuring they stay in pristine condition. The gentle process helps preserve their shape and texture, particularly with delicate materials like suede and soft leather. Here’s how I make sure my moccasins come out looking their best.

First, I prepare a mild detergent solution by mixing a small amount of mild soap with lukewarm water. It’s crucial to avoid hot water as it can damage the material. I always test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the moccasin to ensure it won’t cause any color bleeding or damage.

Next, using a soft brush or a cloth, I gently clean the surface of the moccasins. For tougher stains or dirt in the crevices, I use a soft-bristled toothbrush, ensuring I work on the stains gently to avoid harming the material.

After cleaning, rinsing is a step that requires attention. I rinse my moccasins with cold, clean water, making sure not to soak them completely. Too much water can damage the structure, so I’m careful to only dampen the material enough to remove soap residues.

Drying is just as important as the cleaning itself. I never expose my moccasins to direct heat or sunlight as it can lead to fading or cracking. Instead, I pat them dry with a clean, dry towel and stuff them with paper towels to help them maintain their shape while air-drying.

Throughout the handwashing process, I remind myself that gentle handling is key. By following these steps, I’m able to keep my moccasins clean and in great condition, ensuring they last for years to come.

Machine Washing Your Moccasins

In the world of moccasin care, machine washing often comes with its own sets of rules and warnings. It’s not recommended for all types of moccasins, especially those made from delicate materials like soft leather or suede. However, for more durable varieties, tossing them in a washing machine might be an option if done correctly.

First off, let’s talk about preparation. I always begin by removing any excess dirt or debris with a soft brush. This initial step helps prevent any additional strain on the material during the washing cycle. Pre-treating any stubborn stains with a gentle cleaner can make a huge difference in the outcome.

I can’t stress enough the importance of putting the moccasins in a mesh laundry bag before throwing them into the machine. This extra layer of protection helps minimize friction and potential damage. I then set the washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water – hot water might shrink or warp the material.

Choosing the right detergent is crucial; I opt for a mild, non-bio detergent that’s less likely to harm the moccasins. Overloading the machine is a no-go for me. It’s better to wash them with a few towels or softer garments to buffer any possible impacts during the spin cycle.

Drying is just as important as the washing process. I always air dry my moccasins away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Heat can deform them, so patience is key during the drying phase. Inserting crumpled paper or a shoe tree can help them retain their original shape as they dry.

While machine washing moccasins can be convenient, I proceed with caution, keeping the fabric’s resilience and care instructions in mind. It’s a method that, when done thoughtfully, can save time and preserve the quality of durable moccasins.

Drying and Maintaining Your Moccasins

After thoroughly washing your moccasins, the next crucial step is drying them correctly. Air drying is the safest method, ensuring that the material doesn’t shrink or become damaged by excessive heat. I always place my moccasins in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and heat sources like radiators or heaters. This prevents the leather or suede from drying out too quickly, which can cause it to crack.

To maintain their shape, I gently stuff the moccasins with white paper towels or a shoe tree immediately after washing. Avoid newspaper, as the ink can transfer onto the material. Changing the stuffing a few times throughout the drying process helps in absorbing moisture evenly and keeps the moccasins from developing an unpleasant odor.

Once dry, it’s key to condition the leather or suede to restore its natural oils. I’ve found that applying a quality conditioner or suede protector not only brings back the moccasin’s softness but also enhances its resistance to future stains and water damage. Here’s how I do it:

  • For leather moccasins, I use a small amount of leather conditioner, applying it in circular motions with a soft cloth.
  • For suede moccasins, I prefer a spray protector specifically designed for suede and nubuck, ensuring even coverage without saturating the material.

Consistent care is vital for extending the life of your moccasins. Regular deodorizing can prevent odor build-up; baking soda sprinkled inside the shoes overnight works wonders. Also, addressing stains or scuffs promptly ensures that your moccasins look their best for years to come.

By incorporating these steps into your routine, you’ll significantly impact the longevity and appearance of your moccasins. Taking the time to dry and maintain them properly pays off, preserving the unique comfort and style that drew you to them in the first place.


Washing moccasins doesn’t have to be daunting. By adhering to the steps I’ve outlined, you’ll ensure your moccasins remain in pristine condition. Remember, the key is in the drying and maintaining. Air drying away from direct heat, using white paper towels or a shoe tree, and conditioning the material are all essential practices. It’s these consistent care efforts that will keep your moccasins looking and feeling great. Trust me, a little attention goes a long way in preserving the unique comfort and style of your moccasins for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I wash my moccasins?

Wash moccasins using a gentle, damp cloth and a mild detergent. Avoid immersing them in water to prevent damage.

What is the best way to dry moccasins after washing?

Air dry moccasins in a well-ventilated area away from direct heat sources. Direct heat can damage the material.

Can I use a shoe tree for drying moccasins?

Yes, using a shoe tree or stuffing moccasins with white paper towels helps maintain their shape and absorb moisture evenly.

How often should I condition my moccasins?

Condition leather or suede moccasins periodically with appropriate products to restore oils and softness. The frequency depends on use and exposure to elements.

What can I do to extend the life of my moccasins?

Consistent care including deodorizing, promptly addressing stains, and using the correct products for conditioning are key aspects in extending the lifespan and appearance of moccasins.

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