How to Clean Ballet Slippers and Pointe Shoes

Ballet shoes can be the hardest dance shoes to clean when they are dirty or stained. The typically light pink shows wear and dirty spots very quickly. Because ballet slippers and pointe shoes are delicate, have fabric that can’t be washed, or water will compromise the integrity of the shoe, follow the below steps to clean your shoes.

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  • Leather Ballet Slippers

    • Many times simply wiping the ballet slipper with a damp cloth can help take some of the easier dust and dirt off. But, if your studio has tap dance in the same space as ballet, you’re bound to have some tap dust on your ballet shoes in no time. A drop of mild detergent on the shoes and then wiped off with a dry towel of cloth or toothbrush may help. You could also try leather cleaner however, make sure you have a leather conditioner to keep the shoe supple.

    • DO NOT clean leather ballet slippers in the washing machine. If they are beyond a simple spot cleaning, you may hand wash leather ballet slippers but be sure to wear them while they are damp so that they continue to hold the shape of your foot.

    • NOTE: Water can make leather brittle so be sure to wash them rarely.

  • Canvas Ballet Slippers

    • Canvas ballet slippers can be washed in the machine in a gentle cycle in a wash bag with a gentle detergent. Washing canvas shoes like this will be removed much of the dirt and grime however, don’t expect the color to be restored well. If you’re washing before a performance, a matching color of foundation makeup can be helpful in masking the faded color.

  • Pointe Shoes

    • It’s rare to thoroughly clean a pointe shoes because you should never get your pointe shoes wet. Water is a pointe shoe’s kryptonite. Also, because of the generally short lifespan of a pointe shoe, cleaning is not necessary. Using pointe shoe covers can keep your shoes cleaner for longer and can be found at many dance shops or online. Most dancers choose to hide stains on their pointe shoes by using a concealer or calamine lotion. 

    • If you do have a few stains that need to be scrubbed off, there is one pretty good way to help. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste, using a toothbrush, rub the baking soda into the stained spot on the pointe shoe and let dry overnight. This is not a solution for an entire shoe as the moisture from the paste may change the composition and fit of the shoe. The next day take a damp (not wet) cloth to clean away the baking soda paste. Please know that this will dull the satin but should help clean some of the stains.

Rebecca BryngaComment