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Black satin heels

How to Care for Satin Shoes

By Amalah

Shot of feet with black satin shoes on
Photo by Perfecto Insecto

Hey Amalah!

I’ve got an easy one for you, I hope. I’ve done my Googling but have just found a lot of home remedies with no real consistent suggestion.

So: how do I care for satin shoes? I just bought flats today and would really like it if they didn’t go the way of my last black fabric flats, which is totally smudged and dull. These are cute and nice and I’d like them to stay that way for a while.

Thanks a million!

It’s been awhile since I owned any satin shoes that were not of the bridesmaid variety, but I AM coveting — deeply, painfully coveting — a pair of dove gray satin flats I saw a girl on the Metro wearing yesterday and I MUST OWN THEM RIGHT THIS SECOND, so let’s get this question over and done with so I can go scour Zappos for something similar.

Water protection

The worst thing to use on satin shoes is water, since even slightly hard water can leave stains. I’m leery of even the slightest damp spot treatment, since some satin fabrics contain silk or acetate. Other satins are washable — rayon, polyester, cotton, nylon — and thus aren’t so sensitive to water. And others are a blend of one washable fiber and one non-washable. Most satin clothing will give you the specific fiber breakdown and care instructions, but I’m guessing your shoes are simply labeled something super-helpful like “Fabric Upper.”

Thus, Scotchgard those suckers, particularly if you ever intend to like, WEAR the shoes outside of your house. Just a bottle of the regular upholstery spray stuff is fine — it’s safe to use on any of the fiber possibilities that could make up your shoes, from silk to polyester.

How to clean when needed

1.Dry Cleaners. If you opt not to Scotchgard OR something still happens to them, like getting caught in a sudden torrential rainstorm and spontaneous mud puddles, get them dry cleaned. Yes, you can totally dry clean shoes. Some places won’t, but many will — I generally look for a cleaner that also has a cobbler/shoe repair service, since it makes sense in my head that they must dry-clean shoes at least somewhat regularly.

2. Eraser and cloths: For small scuffs (and this might save your older fabric shoes), I’d try a pencil eraser (or one of those thingies meant for suede) and a lint-free fabric cloth (NO PAPER TOWELS). The eraser will help with the scuff, then buffing with the fabric should get rid of any colored residue left behind by the eraser. And again, unless you know that there isn’t any acetate or silk in the fabric, don’t use water. Send them to the cleaners if you can’t get the marks or stains off.

3. Cleaning kit: If you cannot find a cleaner who does shoes (or wants to charge you for more than the shoes cost), buy a Dryel at-home dry-cleaning kit and VERY VERY CAUTIOUSLY, on a small and as-inconspicuous-as-possible spot, try the stain remover and blotting cloth that comes with it. Then dry it with a hair dryer set to low. If it works and doesn’t leave a watermark-like stain, go ahead and use it as your go-to cleaner.

More Advice from Alpha Mom:

  1. Stopping Scratchy Shoes 
  2. How to Prevent Overhanging Toes in Open-Toed Shoes
  3. Ninja Shoes 


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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