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slippers felt & leather clean
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These lovely slippers serve me well and are comfy and sturdy. But they are now dirty. Please can someone help me figure out the best way to clean them? They have a leather base and should not be put into the wash machine.

dirty but loved slippers
Click for larger image

I have tried brushing them and vacuuming them. I’m apprehensive about applying water or any chemicals. They are now grey and I don’t want to disturb the embroidery work. The store where they were purchased does not provide care instructions.

So I did a test on an older pair of the same slippers but they have rubber soles not leather, this is where the leather sewing instructions will come in handy later. thank you again @elmy test cleaning

The leather ones are now dry! They look much better. The felt and insides took the washing well, I took the hand washing method that @orla provided. I was probably too delicate and feel like they can handle being washed again. Also, the leather performed exactly as @user3067860 said it would, 2 days and the leather feels good.first cleaning Thanks again so much!!!

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    thank you all so much! I appreciate the answers and feel like it’s going to be okay to get these beauties wet without ruining them. orla & @elmy & user3067860 & of course, joachim I’ll post how they turn out, hopefully I’ll have the time to wash them this weekend. 🧡 Jun 22 at 11:28
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Your slippers are as sturdy in water as out. The are good peasant slippers, worn outside in all weathers. The leather can be saturated and then dried in a warm place as long as you don't break or overfold it. Felt is spectacularly tough. The wool embroidery just needs to avoid rubbing.

You could pop them in a pillowcase soles together, tie into a neat package and run in a wool machine wash with a towel (that has a cushioning affect). Use wool soap or eco liquid soap directly into the drum. To tidy up the embroidery, use a small scissors to trim away a little of the red and green fuzz. This will sharpen up the embroidery without damaging the integrity of the threads.

If it sounds too scary fill a sink with warm soapy water. Immerse. Put your hands into your slippers and dance. Squish to create a liquid exchange from the inside through the outer embroidery. This helps pull particulates away. The soap opens up the fibres and helps release the dirt. Rinse under a tap. Blot with a towel and air dry.

I studied restoration. I work with wool and associated equipment- in a museum, as a wool craft, and on a farm.

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    Leather may stiffen up when it goes from wet to dry... Not a problem, but be prepared to spend a little time breaking them in again. You can make it easier by letting them dry (or finish drying) while on your feet. (I used to have leather barn gloves and they were really a nuisance if they dried completely while flat, because they would stiffen to the point where it was difficult to wedge your hand in.) Jun 21 at 14:57
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If these slippers are made in a traditional way, it might be relatively easy to remove the leather soles. In ye olde times many items were designed and made in a way that they could be repaired, especially the parts subjected to the most wear and tear like the soles.

"Relatively easy" means that you still need the right tools, like a sturdy thick thread to sew the soles back onto the shoe and a strong hand-sewing needle. A curved needle will probably make the work easier than a straight needle.

Here are 2 instructions how to attach a leather sole to a fabric shoe:

Before picking your slippers apart, you should read those tutorials to understand how the existing sole is theoretically attached to your slipers. Then take your slippers and examine them carefully. How thick is the thread that attaches the soles? In wich pattern was the sole sewn? Follow the thread a few times from the outside to the inside and out again to really understand how the sole was sewn. Where is the knot that secures the thread?

If you feel like you understand how the slippers were sewn and you're confident that you can resew them, pick the soles apart, wash only the textile part (hand wash or a gentle cycle) and resew the soles after the slippers are completely dry.

Note of caution: although your slippers do look rustic and the soles look like they're sewn on, there's still the risk that they are glued in addition to the sewing. In that case you won't be able to remove the soles for washing.

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  • BTW I wore out the plastic/rubber bottoms of the red shoes and used other bottoms from busted dollar store slippers to replace them. Used Shoe Goo glue to attach them. One day when there’s time, I’m definitely going to use your instructions to replace with leather. Thanks again @elmy Jul 22 at 1:08

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