How to Clean Espadrilles: A Helpful Guide

You probably love your espadrilles because they’re the kind of versatile canvas shoe you can put on to go anywhere, from a brunch date with your friends to a day at the office. But, over time, any pair of grab-and-go shoes will begin to experience wear and tear from being worn so often. 

If you want to save your favorite pair of espadrilles from this fate, or at least extend their life a little longer for planning your espadrilles outfits, it’s critical to clean and care for them regularly. But, how do you clean them without damaging them?

In this guide, we’ll explain how to clean espadrilles in five easy steps so that you can keep your favorite pair looking and feeling as good as new. 

Step 1: Make a Cleaning Solution for the Soles

If you’re wearing your espadrilles often, eventually, you’ll reach the point where you notice their previous shade of white has become more of a beige. When this happens, you might be tempted to throw them in the washing machine to restore their former color—the same way you would with your athletic shoes.

But espadrilles hate being submerged in cold water. The jute rope that makes up their soles can become soggy when submerged, which can cause long-term damage. And throwing them into the washer will only compound the issue. All the tumbling can cause the rope to fray or, in extreme cases, unwind completely.

Since your espadrilles sneakers have delicate soles, they need a little extra care when it comes to cleaning them properly. That’s why it’s a smart idea to use a cleaning solution on them. You can make your own solution by:

  • Grabbing a bowl
  • Adding two cups of clean water to it
  • Pouring in a tablespoon of unscented laundry detergent or mild soap
  • Mixing the two until a few bubbles form (but not so much that the solution becomes sudsy)

If that seems like a lot of hassle, don’t worry. TOMS offers a foaming cleaner in our shoe care kit that’s safe for all shoes and doesn’t require any prep on your part. Plus, you can apply it the same way you would a DIY cleaner.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Shoes Are Dry

Even if your shoes are visibly dirty or have stains (for instance, covered in mud or grime), it’s worth pausing before cleaning them—especially if they’re wet. Trying to remove any mud or muck as soon as it splatters onto your shoes can be counterproductive because it will only press the mud further into your espadrilles and rub grime deep into the fabric.

Doing this can make the job of properly cleaning them much more difficult for you later on.

Instead of instinctually cleaning your shoes as soon as you notice they’re dirty or after accidentally stepping into a rain or mud puddle, you should:

  • Wait for them to dry (if they’re wet)
  • Tackle the mud or grit by gently brushing it off the outside of your shoes

You can easily brush off any mud, grit, or loose dirt with an actual brush, but you can also feel free to use your fingers if you don’t mind washing your hands after. Remember: you don’t want to brush off any mud or dirt while your shoes are still wet. 

Step 3: Use a Brush to Clean the Rope Soles

While some delicate fabrics can benefit from hand washing, the same can’t be said for the soles of your canvas espadrilles. Aside from the fact that your fingers would likely become dirty, they’re simply not able to work their way into the nooks and crannies of an espadrille’s jute rope sole.

That’s why it’s best to use a brush when applying your cleaning solution and scrubbing your shoe soles. A brush can properly spread the solution onto your espadrille’s textured sole and remove dirt in hard-to-reach places.

If you’re looking for a suitable brush to clean your shoes with, consider one of the following options:

  • An old (or new) toothbrush – This is an easy option if you have one lying around the house that you’re not planning on using. It’s the perfect at-home instrument to scrub jute rope and slowly apply cleaning solution. If you’re using an old toothbrush, make sure the bristles are clean first. 
  • A specialty shoe-cleaning brush – While a toothbrush will do the job in a pinch, if you don’t have a shoe cleaning emergency, it’s worth investing in a proper shoe cleaning brush like a suede brush. You’ll see better long-term results with it, and your favorite shoes will thank you for the purchase.

To apply cleaning solution to your espadrilles’ soles, dip your brush into the cleaning mix and spread it by gently rubbing the brush over the rope. It’s best to brush in one direction and stick with that direction to prevent the rope from frizzing or fraying.

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Step 4: Make Sure You Properly Clean the Tops

When picking out your espadrilles, the rope soles are probably one of the first features that caught your eye—it’s part of what makes these versatile shoes so unique. But there's more to an espadrille than the soles alone. And that means there's more for you to clean.

The tops of your espadrilles can become just as dirty as the soles, which means they need care and attention as well if you want your entire shoe to stay in top condition. But not all espadrilles are made of the same materials. Depending on the type of material used, your shoes may require different types of care.

Below are some tips on how to clean the most common types of espadrille top materials:

  • Canvas or fabric – This type of espadrille is the easiest to clean because you can use the above cleaning solution on the tops of the shoes as well. Simply use a soft cloth to rub the solution in circles, then use a damp cloth to wipe it off. A variety of shoe cleaners are also an option for fabric espadrilles.
  • Leather – These shoes need specific cleaning foams and products that are leather friendly, or else you could accidentally damage your espadrilles while trying to clean them. Wipe the shoes down with a soft rag once you’re done applying the product.
  • Suede – Suede is probably the trickiest material to care for. In fact, suede espadrilles require several special brushes and stain erasers designed to tackle this tricky fabric without tearing it. Water is also damaging to suede which makes it essential to ensure your shoes stay dry throughout the cleaning process.

Fortunately, it’s generally safe to use shoe cleaner when caring for your espadrilles, unless they’re made of suede. If you’re looking for a top-notch option, you can check out our foaming cleaner or Nikwax Cleaning Gel™.

Step 5: Let Your Espadrilles Dry

It can be difficult to wait for your favorite platform shoes to dry when you want nothing more than to throw them on and show them off at your friend’s dinner party, but your espadrilles are worth the wait. And just like you can’t throw your espadrilles in the wash, you also can’t put them in the dryer.

It’s best to let your damp espadrilles air dry naturally. If you expose them to heat, you risk shrinking them and ruining all the hard work you did. Even though any kind of dryer can cause damage, there are other tricks you can use to speed up the drying process, such as:

  • Blotting them with a cloth – Heat isn’t the only helpful tool for drying. You can use a soft cloth or towel to blot the tops of your shoes while they air dry to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Stuffing the inside with paper towels – This trick will soak up any extra wetness that would take longer to air dry alone. It also has the added benefit of helping your espadrilles maintain their shape while they dry, keeping them ready to go for you.

How To Clean Light Stains

Mix a small amount of soap or detergent into a bowl of water. Dip a toothbrush or a specialty shoe-cleaning brush in the bowl and scrub the stained areas using a circular motion. You can blot any excess moisture with a cloth or stuff the insides with paper towels.

Take Care of All of Your Shoes with TOMS

Shoes experience more wear and tear than other types of clothes, which is why it’s vital to take proper care of them if you want them to last. By investing the time necessary to clean them properly, you can add years onto the lifespan of your favorite espadrilles.

When it comes to taking proper care of your shoes, it helps to have the right tools. That’s where TOMS comes in. 

The TOMS Shoe Care Kit has everything you need to keep your entire shoe collection in pristine condition. With three different solutions, you can easily tackle common shoe problems. Start with the foaming cleaner to remove dirt and mud. Then, use the protect spray to keep moisture and stains away. And when you need a little extra freshness, our refresher spray and deodorizer can tackle any smell buildup. 

If you’re ready to take your shoe care to the next level, check out the TOMS Shoe Care Kit today. It’ll help you keep rocking your favorite espadrilles (and all your favorite shoes) for years to come. 

Looking for more information on the history of the espadrille shoe? Check out our guide on What Are Espadrilles? to learn more!

​​Reviewed By Andrew David Stewart

Andrew David Stewart is the Manager of Digital Marketing at TOMS and has been working in the digital marketing and social media world for 6 years. Andrew is a lover of nature and the outdoors, and is passionate about telling stories through digital media.


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