Photo of author

How to Wash Reef Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide for Keeping Your Footwear Clean

When it comes to taking care of your reef shoes, proper cleaning is essential to maintain their longevity and performance. Whether you use them for beach adventures, water sports, or simply as casual footwear, knowing how to wash reef shoes can significantly extend their lifespan. In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step process, ensuring your reef shoes stay clean, fresh, and ready for your next aquatic adventure.

Reef shoes are designed to withstand the harsh conditions of water activities, but they still require regular cleaning to remove dirt, salt, sand, and other debris that can accumulate over time. By following the tips and techniques below, you can ensure that your reef shoes remain in excellent condition and provide you with optimal comfort and performance.

Understanding the Material

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to understand the material your reef shoes are made of. Different materials require different cleaning approaches to avoid damaging the fabric or structure of the shoes.

Neoprene

Neoprene is a common material used in reef shoes due to its water-resistant and durable properties. To clean neoprene reef shoes, start by removing any loose dirt or debris. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Gently agitate the shoes in the soapy water, paying extra attention to any stained or soiled areas. Use a soft brush or cloth to scrub away dirt and stains, but avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that could damage the neoprene. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry naturally.

Mesh

Mesh reef shoes are lightweight and breathable, making them ideal for water activities. To clean mesh shoes, begin by removing any excess dirt or debris by tapping them against a hard surface or using a soft brush. Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the shoes in the soapy water and use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub away dirt and stains. Pay close attention to the mesh areas, as they tend to accumulate dirt and sand. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Rubber

Rubber reef shoes are highly durable and resistant to water, making them suitable for various water activities. To clean rubber shoes, start by removing any visible dirt or debris by tapping them against a hard surface or using a soft brush. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the shoes in the soapy water and use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub away dirt and stains. Pay extra attention to the sole and any textured areas where dirt may be trapped. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Removing Excess Dirt and Debris

Before proceeding with the cleaning process, it’s essential to remove any visible dirt, sand, or debris from your reef shoes. This step will make the subsequent cleaning more effective and prevent any abrasive particles from damaging the material during the washing process.

To remove excess dirt and debris from your reef shoes, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Take your shoes outside and gently tap them against a hard surface, such as a wall or the ground. This will help dislodge any loose dirt or debris.
  2. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the shoes, paying particular attention to the sole and any textured areas where dirt may be trapped.
  3. If there are stubborn stains or dirt that cannot be removed with brushing alone, consider using a mild detergent or stain remover specifically designed for the material of your shoes.
  4. After removing the excess dirt and debris, you can proceed with the cleaning method appropriate for your reef shoes.

Hand Washing Method

For delicate materials such as neoprene or mesh, hand washing is the recommended method to clean your reef shoes. Hand washing allows you to have more control over the cleaning process and reduces the risk of damaging the shoes’ fabric or structure.

Preparing the Cleaning Solution

Before you begin hand washing your reef shoes, you need to prepare a cleaning solution. Fill a bucket or basin with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Stir the mixture gently to create a soapy solution. Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as they can damage the shoes.

Scrubbing the Shoes

Once you have prepared the cleaning solution, follow these steps to hand wash your reef shoes:

  1. Submerge the shoes in the soapy water, ensuring that they are fully covered.
  2. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the shoes, paying attention to any stained or soiled areas. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously, as this could damage the material.
  3. Pay extra attention to the areas where dirt, sand, or salt may have accumulated, such as the sole and any textured parts of the shoes.
  4. If there are stubborn stains, you can create a paste using baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the stained areas and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
  5. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

Drying the Shoes

After hand washing your reef shoes, it’s crucial to dry them properly to prevent the growth of mold or mildew. Here are some tips for drying your shoes:

  1. Remove any excess water from the shoes by gently squeezing them or patting them with a towel.
  2. Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Direct sunlight or excessive heat can cause the shoes to warp or lose their shape.
  3. For faster drying, you can stuff the shoes with crumpled newspaper or paper towels. The paper will absorb moisture and help the shoes dry more quickly.
  4. Allow the shoes to air dry completely before wearing or storing them. This may take several hours or overnight, depending on the material and humidity level.

Machine Washing Method

If your reef shoes are made of rubber or are labeled as machine washable, you can opt for the machine washing method. However, it’s essential to remove any detachable parts, such as insoles or laces, before placing the shoes in the washing machine.

Preparing the Shoes for Machine Washing

Before machine washing your reef shoes, follow these steps to prepare them:

  1. Remove any insoles or inserts from the shoes, as they can become damaged or misshapen in the washing machine.
  2. If the laces are removable, take them out of the shoes. If they are not removable, secure them tightly to prevent tangling during the wash cycle.
  3. Inspect the shoes for any loose threads, tears, or damage. Repair any small issues before washing to prevent further damage in the machine.

Washing the Shoes in the Machine

Once you have prepared the shoes for machine washing, follow these steps:

  1. Place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash cycle. The bag will prevent the shoes from getting tangled with other items in the machine.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the shoes.
  3. Select a gentle cycle with cold water. High temperatures and vigorous cycles can cause the shoes to warp, shrink, or lose their shape.
  4. Start the washing machine and allow the cycle to complete.

Drying the Shoes

After machine washing your reef shoes, it’s important to dry them properly to maintain their shape and prevent any unpleasant odors. Here are some tips for drying your shoes after machine washing:

  1. Remove the shoes from the mesh laundry bag and inspect them for any remaining dirt or debris.
  2. Remove any excess water from the shoes by gently squeezing them or patting them with a towel.
  3. Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
  4. Allow the shoes to air dry completely before wearing or storing them. This may take several hours or overnight, depending on the material and humidity level.

Cleaning Insoles and Laces

When cleaning your reef shoes, don’t forget to pay attention to the insoles and laces. These components can accumulate dirt, sweat, and odor over time, affecting the overall cleanliness and freshness of your shoes.

Cleaning Insoles

To clean the insoles of your reef shoes, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the insoles from the shoes.
  2. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and a small amount of mild soap.4. Rinse the insoles thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

    5. Squeeze out any excess water from the insoles and pat them dry with a towel. Avoid wringing or twisting the insoles, as this can damage their shape.

    6. Place the insoles in a well-ventilated area to air dry completely. Ensure they are placed flat to maintain their shape.

    7. Once the insoles are dry, you can insert them back into your clean and dry reef shoes.

    Cleaning Laces

    To clean the laces of your reef shoes, you can follow these simple steps:

    1. Remove the laces from the shoes.
    2. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and a small amount of mild soap.
    3. Submerge the laces in the soapy water and use your fingers or a soft brush to gently scrub away any dirt or stains.
    4. Rinse the laces thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
    5. Squeeze out any excess water from the laces and lay them flat on a towel to air dry.
    6. Once the laces are dry, you can reattach them to your clean and dry reef shoes.

    Dealing with Stubborn Stains

    Sometimes, your reef shoes may have stubborn stains that are more challenging to remove. Here are some additional tips to help you tackle those stubborn stains:

    Neoprene and Mesh Shoes

    If your neoprene or mesh reef shoes have stubborn stains, you can try creating a paste using baking soda and water. Follow these steps:

    1. In a small bowl, mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste with a toothpaste-like consistency.
    2. Apply the paste to the stained areas of your shoes, using a soft brush or cloth.
    3. Gently scrub the stained areas with the paste, focusing on the stains until they start to lift.
    4. Allow the paste to sit on the stains for about 30 minutes to penetrate and break down the dirt.
    5. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove the baking soda paste.

    Rubber Shoes

    For rubber reef shoes with stubborn stains, you can use a soft cloth or sponge soaked in a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. Follow these steps:

    1. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with the warm water and mild detergent mixture.
    2. Gently scrub the stained areas of your shoes with the cloth or sponge, applying light pressure.
    3. Continue scrubbing until the stains start to fade or disappear.
    4. Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

    Treating Odors

    Reef shoes can sometimes develop unpleasant odors due to bacteria or moisture. Here are some methods to help eliminate odors:

    Baking Soda or Talcum Powder

    Sprinkling baking soda or talcum powder inside your reef shoes can help absorb unwanted odors. Follow these steps:

    1. Ensure your shoes are dry and clean before applying baking soda or talcum powder.
    2. Generously sprinkle baking soda or talcum powder inside the shoes, covering the entire insole area.
    3. Allow the powder to sit inside the shoes overnight or for at least a few hours.
    4. Shake out the excess powder and thoroughly air out the shoes before wearing them again.

    Vinegar and Water Spray

    Vinegar is known for its natural deodorizing properties. You can create a mixture of vinegar and water to spray the insides of your reef shoes. Follow these steps:

    1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
    2. Generously spray the mixture inside your shoes, targeting the insole area.
    3. Allow the shoes to air dry naturally. As the vinegar evaporates, it will help eliminate odors.
    4. Ensure the shoes are completely dry before wearing or storing them.

    When to Replace Your Reef Shoes

    Despite proper cleaning and maintenance, reef shoes have a limited lifespan. It’s important to regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and tear. Here are some indicators that it may be time to replace your reef shoes:

    Sole Damage

    Examine the soles of your shoes for any signs of excessive wear or damage. If you notice significant wear patterns, holes, or smooth areas, it may indicate that the soles have worn down and are no longer providing adequate traction and protection.

    Loss of Functionality

    If your reef shoes are no longer performing as they should, it may be time to replace them. Signs of loss of functionality include reduced support, decreased flexibility, or compromised water resistance.

    Visible Deterioration

    Inspect your shoes for any visible signs of deterioration, such as tears, rips, or loose stitching. These issues can lead to further damage and decrease the overall durability of your reef shoes.

    Uncomfortable Fit

    If your reef shoes no longer provide a comfortable fit or have become stretched out, it may be a sign that they need to be replaced. Ill-fitting shoes can cause discomfort, blisters, and foot fatigue.

    Regularly assessing the condition of your reef shoes will ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment during water-related activities. When in doubt, it’s always better to invest in a new pair of reef shoes to maintain optimal performance and protection.

    Related video of How to Wash Reef Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide for Keeping Your Footwear Clean