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How to Clean and Deodorize Neoprene Wetshoes

Commonly heard complaints from boaters are “my wetshoes dry slowly” and “my shoes really stink.” The problems are related. Neoprene wetshoes don’t “breathe” so moisture escapes slowly unless you work to eliminate it. And bacteria and other microorganisms in the water and from your feet can generate odors in those moist conditions. This video shows how to clean and dry water shoes to head off odor. And if stinky shoes happen, we show how to eliminate it.

In addition to the material not breathing, neoprene wetshoes have a narrow opening. This combo leads to the slow drying. Even the cleanest water we boat in has lots of bacteria in it. And bacteria, plus moisture, plus warmth leads to odor. As George Carlin sagely observed, “Germs have bad breath.”

Your first defense against odor is to rinse the shoes with fresh water after each outing. You can also wash them with Gear Aid Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo, an excellent cleaner for boating apparel. Side note: Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo has ingredients that neutralize chlorine; a good way to protect your neoprene from damage when you’re using it in a swimming pool.

To speed up drying, stuff a rag, hand towel or newspaper in the shoe to soak up moisture. To finish the drying, set the shoes in the sun or air them out with a hair dryer or boot dryer.

This may be all you need to do to prevent odor. If odor does occur, we’ve got you covered. Soak the shoes in either Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator (previously labeled McNett Mirazyme) or Sink the Stink Gear Deodorizer. Don’t rinse, but you can dry them as described above. These products don’t mask odors, they contain ingredients that actually eliminate odor-causing bacteria. They’re great for odor elimination on all sorts of boating gear, from base layers, to gloves to life jackets.