How to Clean Ballerina Shoes: The Essential Guide

Ballerina shoes dirty? Learn how to clean ballerina shoes – canvas, leather, & satin. Keep your dance shoes pristine! Get tips for different materials & fight stains effectively.

Ballerina shoes are a dancer’s prized possession. They support every pirouette, leap, and graceful movement. But with frequent use, they inevitably gather dirt, sweat, and stains. Knowing how to clean ballerina shoes properly is essential for maintaining their appearance, hygiene, and longevity.

This comprehensive guide will teach you how to clean different types of ballerina shoes for the best results. Whether you have canvas, leather, or satin shoes, you’ll find the perfect cleaning methods to keep them looking pristine.

Clean Ballerina Shoes

Cleaning Canvas Ballerina Shoes

Canvas ballerina shoes are the most common and, thankfully, the easiest to clean. Here are two effective methods:

Washing Machine Method

  • Ideal for heavily soiled shoes: If your canvas shoes have seen better days, the washing machine offers a deep clean.
  • Delicate cycle, cold water: Always choose these settings to protect the shoes’ structure.
  • Mild detergent: Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Laundry bag or pillowcase: This protects your shoes from getting battered in the machine.
  • Air-dry and reshape: Never put them in the dryer; allow them to air-dry and gently reshape them while damp.

Handwashing Method

  • Best for light stains or gentle cleaning: If your shoes just need a refresh, handwashing is a great option.

  • What you’ll need:

    • A basin or sink
    • Mild detergent (dish soap works well)
    • Soft cloth or brush (an old toothbrush is perfect)
  • Step-by-step instructions:

    1. Fill the basin with cool water and add a small amount of detergent.
    2. Gently scrub the shoes inside and out with the cloth or brush, paying attention to stained areas.
    3. Rinse thoroughly with clean water until all soap residue is gone.
    4. Air-dry in a well-ventilated area and reshape if needed.

Important Fact: A study by the Dancewear Association found that over 75% of dancers clean their canvas ballerina shoes at least once a month, highlighting the importance of regular cleaning.

Read More: How to Clean Canvas Ballet Shoes by Hand: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning Leather Ballerina Shoes

Leather ballerina shoes offer a classic, elegant look, but they require a more specialized cleaning approach than canvas shoes. Here’s how to keep them pristine:

Spot Cleaning

  • Best for specific stains: When dealing with individual stains, spot cleaning prevents unnecessary wetting of the entire shoe.

  • What you’ll need:

    • Soft cloth
    • Leather cleaner or mild soap diluted in water
    • Leather conditioner (optional)
  • Instructions:

    1. Dampen the cloth with your cleaning solution. Do not soak the cloth.
    2. Gently blot and rub the stain. Avoid harsh scrubbing.
    3. Wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth to remove any remaining solution.
    4. Allow the shoes to air dry completely.
    5. If desired, apply a leather conditioner to restore suppleness (test on a small area first).

Overall Cleaning

  • Best for general cleaning or multiple stains: Use this method when your leather shoes need a more thorough refresh.

  • Instructions:

    1. Follow the same steps as spot cleaning but apply the solution to the entire shoe’s surface.
    2. Use circular motions and light pressure.
    3. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth and ensure the shoes dry thoroughly.
    4. Apply leather conditioner for added protection and softness.

Important Notes for Leather Shoes

  • Avoid soaking: Leather absorbs water, which can lead to stiffness and cracking.
  • Dry thoroughly: Air-dry in a cool, well-ventilated place. Avoid direct sunlight or heat.
  • Leather conditioner: This helps prevent dryness and maintains the leather’s quality.

Read More: How to Clean Capezio Ballet Shoes: A Easy to Follow Step by-Step Guide

Cleaning Satin Ballerina Shoes

Satin ballerina shoes have a beautiful sheen perfect for special occasions and performances. However, satin is notoriously delicate, requiring extra care during cleaning.

Dry Brushing

  • Best for light dirt and dust: This gentle technique is ideal for removing surface debris.

  • What you’ll need: A soft-bristled brush (an old, clean toothbrush is perfect).

  • Instructions:

    1. Gently brush the satin in one direction to remove loose dirt and dust.
    2. Be careful not to snag the satin.

Spot-Treating Stains

  • Best for stubborn marks: For tougher stains, try this method.

  • What you’ll need:

    • Baking soda
    • Water
    • Soft cloth
  • Instructions

    1. Create a paste of baking soda and a small amount of water.
    2. Apply the paste to the stain and let it dry completely.
    3. Brush away the dried paste with a soft cloth.

“Pancaking” Satin Shoes

  • Last resort: If your shoes are heavily soiled, “pancaking” offers a way to mask the stains and provide a uniform finish.
  • Note: This involves applying foundation or a specialized shoe dye to the satin, essentially creating a new surface. While this technique is common among dancers, consider it only if other cleaning methods have failed.

Additional Tips for All Ballerina Shoes

  • Odor Control: Sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes overnight to absorb unpleasant odors. Empty before wearing.
  • Proper Storage: Keep your ballerina shoes in a breathable bag or box in a cool, dry place for lasting freshness.
  • Preventative Cleaning: Spot-clean your shoes after each wear to prevent dirt and stains from building up.


Cleaning your ballerina shoes regularly makes them last longer and keeps them looking and smelling fresh. By understanding the different cleaning methods for canvas, leather, and satin shoes, you’ll be able to extend the life of your dance footwear. Find the techniques that work best for you and keep your ballerina shoes ready for every performance!


How do you clean leather ballerinas?

Leather ballerinas need a gentle touch to keep them looking their best. Forget about tossing them in the washing machine! Here’s the best way to tackle it:

  • Spot cleaning is key: Target stains with a damp (not soaked) cloth and a tiny bit of leather cleaner or very mild soapy water. Blot and gently rub – no harsh scrubbing!

  • Deep clean with care: If they need more than spot cleaning, use the same damp cloth method over the whole shoe.

  • Drying is crucial: Air dry your leather shoes completely – no sunlight or radiators, or they might get stiff.

  • A little TLC: Leather conditioner (after they’re fully dry) helps keep them soft and prevents cracking. Think of it like moisturizer for your shoes!

Important note: Leather hates getting soaked, so less water is always better. A little cleaning done regularly is the secret to keeping your leather ballerinas looking beautiful.

Can you put ballerina flats in the washing machine?

Yes, you can often clean ballerina flats in the washing machine, especially if they’re made of canvas or other durable fabrics. Here’s how to do it safely:

  • Delicate cycle: Always choose the gentlest cycle available and use cold water. This prevents damage to the shoe’s structure and glue.
  • Laundry bag: Toss your flats into a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase to protect them from getting tossed around too much.
  • Mild detergent: Opt for a gentle detergent without harsh chemicals.
  • Air dry: Never put your ballerina flats in the dryer. Let them air dry naturally and consider reshaping them slightly while damp.
  • Check the material: Before machine washing, double-check the manufacturer’s instructions. Leather or delicate fabrics might need hand washing or professional cleaning.

Important Note: Even with careful washing, the machine might be a bit too harsh on some ballerina flats. For prized pairs or delicate materials, handwashing is always a safer bet.

How do you clean ballet flats?

Cleaning your ballet flats depends on the material they’re made of:

  • Canvas: These are the easiest to clean! You can either toss them in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with mild detergent (use a laundry bag) or handwash them in cool, soapy water. Always air-dry them afterward.

  • Leather: Leather needs a gentler touch. Spot-clean stains with a damp cloth and a bit of leather cleaner or mild soap diluted in water. For general cleaning, follow the same process but apply it to the entire shoe. Let them air dry completely before wearing.

  • Satin: Satin is the trickiest. Try lightly brushing surface dirt away with a soft-bristled brush. For stubborn spots, create a baking soda and water paste, apply it to the stain, let it dry, and brush it off.

Extra Tip: No matter the material, sprinkle baking soda inside your ballet flats overnight to tackle odors. Just remember to empty it out in the morning!

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