How to Clean Water Shoes

Cleaning your water shoes to remove bad smell may turn into a pretty annoying task for many. Water shoes could be very handy and owning a good pair is certainly worth it.  They provide comfort, grip and protection even from some of the most unforgiving terrains. 

To avoid bad smell, your shoes need good cleaning after use. There are a range of good options to help you keep your shoes fresh and clean that we found on Amazon:

  • Powder which kills odor-producing bacteria: FOOT SENSE All Natural Smelly Foot & Shoe Powder
  • Wash for wet suits which works on water shoes: Sink the Stink Wetsuit Cleaner
  • Spray which quickly eliminates bad smell: All Natural Shoe Deodorizer and Foot Deodorant Spray
  • Some myths busted

    • Can I just wash them in the washing machine?

    Yes, why not but it very much depends on the materials they are made of. You need to be careful with shoes made of animal based fabric like leather or suede. Delicate materials like satin or silk can also be easily ruined.

    Textile, cotton nylon or polyester are suitable for machine wash. There are some shoes with PU or PVC coating which you can also wash in your washing machine. Interestingly, many water shoes may have PVC coating for better grip and water resistance.

    However, it is not as easy as it sounds. Some shoes may not be suitable for washing. It very much depends on the material. You should always check the label.

    As a rule of thumb if your shoe feels delicate you better be cautious. You can still use your washing machine on ‘hand wash’ setting.

    A good article on generally how to prepare for a shoe wash is here: How to wash shoes in the washing machine? 

    • Can I put them in the freezer?

    Yes, you can put anything in your freezer but do you really want to put your water shoes in there? Would putting your shoes in the freezer remove bad smell? The idea is that the cold would kill odor-producing bacteria.

    There is some information online (not scientifically proven) that this life hack can certainly help. It makes sense and there is a good degree of logic but do you really want to do that.

    You need to be mindful of the type of shoe you are throwing in your freezer. Similarly, to washing them, freezing them might ruin them if you are not careful. Cold can influence the durability and stretch the textile. Water shoes need to offer you a snuggle fit and protection and using the freezing method to remove bad smell might compromise these essential features.

    In our opinion, this is not necessary, there certainly should be more practical ways of dealing with bad smell.

    There is a Quora answer you can refer to: What is the purpose of putting shoes in the freezer? 

    • Can you soak them in water – wouldn’t that make it worse?

    One of the most common way to deal with dirty shoes and bad smell is to soak them well in warm water and apply some wash.

    By applying warm water and shoes you are helping to kill bacteria, dirt and odor.

    This is a very common approach but you still need to be careful with the type of shoe you are washing.

    Leather, silk and delicate shoes may not do well in a warm water for a long time. 

    Understanding why they smell? Common mistakes. 

    • Bacteria build up

    Don’t get me wrong, all shoes start accumulating some smell after a period. In the case of water shoes, combining neoprene, rubber, water, dirt and others could make such maintenance hard for many. 

    If the shoes stay wet for a long period, they are more likely to grow bacteria and build up an unpleasant smell.

    If you try and clean your shoes as soon as possible after each use then things get a whole lot better. 

    This product which kills odor-producing bacteria could do a great job: FOOT SENSE All Natural Smelly Foot & Shoe Powder

    • Mistake No 1: Putting them in your bag after use

    The reason they tend to start smelling is that once they are used, people tend to put them in a plastic bag and keep them in a dark place.

    Understand your shoe to help it not smell

    It also depends on the type of water shoe you have. There are premium brands which provide great drainage and are equipped with technologies which allow them to dry up very fast.

    However, even the best of the best need cleaning to ensure durability, comfort and pleasure.

    • Beach, hike, water, aerobics?

    No shoes are made equal – there are different types which are best for the different sports activities you are looking to embark on.

    For example, beach and water aerobics shoes tend to be light and offer a decent level of protection.

    Hiking and trekking shoes are much different. They are bigger, more solid, with thicker sole and superb grip.

    Their purpose is to protect you from rocks, sticks, mud and everything else you encounter on your trail.

    In any case, your water shoes offer certain level of water resistance and drainage.

    You are more likely to be able to wash your hiking boots in the washing machine as they are much more durable. However, do it with care and check the instructions – leather and suede, and some other materials might get damaged.

    Our recommendation is to rinse them or use wet wipes, or antibacterial wipes to clean the inside.

    How to remove bad smell –  quick tips that can help if you act fast

    A lot of people are wary about cleaning their water shoes with traditional soap and water. You may also fear that this traditional method is likely going to ruin them.

    The first thing you need to do is to check what your shoes are made of and see what could possibly work best for them.

    If your shoes tend to accumulate smell quickly after use, then they are more likely made of neoprene which is a material that is very ‘welcoming’ to bacteria.

    • Shoes made of mesh

    If they are made of traditional materials such as mesh, just like a typical running shoe, we recommend that you use dryer sheets.

    As soon as your water shoes are dry, fill them with a couple of these sheets. This will allow the sheets to soak up any smelling toxins from the shoe.

    • How to clean neoprene shoes? How to air out neoprene?

    If your water shoes are made of neoprene materials, such as the material most wet suits are made of, then you may want to wash them with fresh, warm water.

    You can use cleaners that are designed for neoprene which can be used both for neoprene wet suits and water shoes.

    • Wet suite wash

    There is plenty of choice for neoprene wash products so you will have no problem finding them quickly.

    You can use a wet suit wash or soap for your neoprene shoes. If you have a neoprene wet suite or shoes you should never wash it in a washing machine. This is likely to ruin them.  

    A few good alternatives on Amazon to help you keep your shoes fresh and clean:

    Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo, 32 oz./Economy
    Sink the Stink Wetsuit Cleaner 4ounce Bottle

    The complete step by step process of removing bad stubborn smell:

    Preventing your shoes from smell is much easier than removing a smell which is already there.

    When your shoes already smell, it will take a little longer to fix the problem. In these cases, simply rinsing and airing would not do the job. Below we provide a few practical steps on what you can do to address this problem.

    • Remove the shoes as soon as you stop wearing them. Make sure that you avoid using them for a very long time. This is how you encourage the apparition of allergies and a variety of fungus types.
    • You will now have to loosen the rubber fasteners in the water shoe. It will allow you to perform the cleaning process properly and without any kind of
    • Make sure that you rinse your shoe with some hot, clean water for a few minutes. You can also put them in a sink for a few minutes, it will work quite well. The water shouldn’t be too hot, so try to consider that.
    • Wash your water shoes with some shampoo or wet suit soap. You might be able to replace this with hand soap or dish soap if necessary, not a problem.
    • Ideally, you may want to add a bit of baking soda into the water, then you can sprinkle some on top of the sponge. Dampen the sponge for a little while to ensure that you get the right result.
    • You must release the moisture that remains inside the water shoes.
    • Scrub the outside and inside of the shoe with the sponge, you will then have to let the water shoes soak for up to 30 minutes inside the water solution.
    • When the scrubbing process is completed, you can use old newspapers to rub off all the water inside. You can use a blow dryer to make the cleaning process faster. Then you can opt for a deodorizer solution or baking soda if you can still feel some of the unwanted smell!

    How to prevent them from smelling ever again – simple tips

    One of the best ways to keep your water shoes clean is to rinse and place them in the sun to dry up after each use.

    Avoid placing your clean water shoes in a bag which will make them even more damp and humidified.

    This is the number one mistake many of us make. Once you try and avoid this, you will notice that the smell is not as powerful – that is half the battle. 

    Try and put them clean outside in the fresh air where they can dry u properly. You can also use a little trick of putting a fan on them to speed up the process.

    A good product helping with removing and preventing shoe smell is this one: All Natural Shoe Deodorizer and Foot Deodorant Spray – Made in USA – with Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Essential Oils to Remove Bad Odor and Scent – Best for Stinky Shoes, Smelly Feet & Sport

    Now that they are clean, how to dry them up

    We already hinted a few possible options but let’s sum up what you can do:

    • You can rinse and put them to dry in the sun;
    • Preferably outside of your home where they can dry in the fresh air;
    • Use a fan or a hair dryer – this is quick but you spend electricity;
    • Use dry sheets to put inside the shoes to absorb the moist and bacteria.

    In any case, do not leave them dry in your bag or a small compartment. Avoid humid and damp places as this would only make it worse.


    Cleaning your water shoes is not a complicated task. However, due to the materials that they are made of they can often accumulate bad smell and bacteria.

    Not only is the smell unpleasant but it is also the bacteria that we want to avoid soaking our feet in.

    The best remedy is to focus on maintenance and avoid this happening in the first place.

    Simply rinse them thoroughly and air them out in the sun. Do not put them in a bag as this would make them more damp and humid, and much more difficult to clean.


    Q: Why water shoes smell?

    A: This is simply because of the odor-producing bacteria which gets in your shoes.

    Q: What is the number one mistake to avoid?

    A: Do not put wet shoes in a bag or small compartment – this generates more damp and humidity.

    Q: How to clean my water shoes?

    A: You can do many things but mainly: use warm water to rinse; apply neoprene wash products; use a washing machine for non-delicate shoes; use wet or antibacterial wipes.

    Q: How to dry your water shoes?

    A: Simply leave them out of the house to air and dry in the sun. You can also use a fan or hair dryer for a quicker result.

    Q: What type of materials you cannot put in a washing machine?

    A: Generally delicate materials but specifically leather and silk.

    Q: Can I put my neoprene shoes in the washing machine?

    A: This is not at all advisable, if you do that you are likely to ruin your shoes.

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