The Ultimate Guide to Sparkling Clean Crocs
In September of 2022, we have updated our guide to include new information on removing tough stains from your Crocs.
Crocs have become a ubiquitous footwear choice, with their ability to protect feet from a variety of surfaces, including emergency room floors, muddy streams, and even fashion runways. Although opinions on these squishy clogs can be fiercely divided, we understand the appeal of their durability and relatively low cost. Made from a proprietary material called Croslite, which begins as ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), Crocs' construction provides a flexible and sturdy copolymer. However, a common question that arises among Crocs wearers concerns how to clean the shoes properly. We decided to get our hands dirty and find out.
Firstly, it's important to note that Crocs recommends spot-cleaning and air-drying their shoes instead of tossing them into the wash. In almost all cases, this method worked well, although some stains may take longer to remove than others. The length of time required to clean depends on the level of dirt accumulated. While cleaning off small smudges on the top of the Crocs may take only a minute or two, getting into the ridges and crevices takes more time and effort.
We spoke with several Crocs wearers and read numerous Reddit threads to identify the most common types of stains. Not surprisingly, dirt is the most frequent culprit, but some people claim red clay found in southern US soil is particularly complicated to remove. To test that theory, we stomped around a construction site in South Carolina covered in muddy dirt from the red clay and allowed the shoes to dry.
A week later, we removed the larger chunks of mud and wiped the rest off with lukewarm water and dish soap. Although Crocs recommends cold water, we found that using warm water with dish soap worked well to remove the rust-colored tint, and the shoes returned to their original bright white appearance. A toothbrush came in handy to clean in-between the grooves at the bottom of the shoes and the rivet where the heel strap connects to the clog.
Removing dog poop or sidewalk grime requires the same technique of spot-cleaning with a soapy water solution, using a toothbrush to get into the grooves. However, if you ever find yourself dealing with dog poop on the go, grab some travel-sized Clorox wipes from your bag for quick clean-up. We tried using Shout wipes for this purpose but found the cloth size to be inadequate for the task at hand. Lastly, we recommend washing your clogs outside if you ever step on dog poop to avoid contaminating indoor spaces and yourself.
Removing Stubborn Stains like Paint and Grass
Hunter Boone Photo: CrocsEVA-made shoes such as Crocs are kids' favorite footwear. I decided to experiment with blue acrylic paint and Elmer's glitter glue on the shoes' soles and leave it overnight. The following day, I noticed that the glue and paint's thicker chunks came off quickly, leaving behind some faint stains. To get rid of it, I cleaned the shoe with soap and water. Though the blue color faded, a slight hint of it remained on the rivet that attached the strap to the clog. I tried cleaning it with warm soapy water, baking soda, and vinegar, but none of the methods worked. Eventually, I decided to leave it be since it wasn't visible.
Soaked in the dirt and grass, the shoes now looked worse. The dirt came off quickly with water, while the grass stains left a green tint behind. Scrubbing with Dawn didn't yield any results. However, when I used laundry detergent and a toothbrush, the stains lightened up slightly. I then made a paste of baking soda and water and let it rest for a few minutes to work its magic. But even that didn't work, so I instructed the shoes' handler to let the shoes air-dry while I read up more on cleaning the stains. To my surprise, when I returned, the stains had almost vanished. We tried reaching out to the company to learn why this happened, but they didn't respond to our inquiries.
The Enigma of the Disappearing Sriracha
Is it just us or does this give off a Friday the 13th vibe? Photo: Joshua Lyon
After perusing through numerous online complaints outlining the condiment's ominous staining power, we intentionally splattered our pristine white Crocs with sriracha in the initial version of this guide. Subsequently, we pursued a range of solutions to target the stubborn blotches, which included soap and water, OxiClean, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and isopropyl alcohol. We then progressed onto more robust cleaning agents that the manufacturer does not recommend, such as Clorox Bathroom Bleach Foamer and the product named Goo Gone. In a last-ditch attempt at salvation, we even resorted to throwing the shoes into the washing machine after an extensive soak in OxiClean. Despite all our efforts, not one of the methods yielded a positive outcome. We ultimately conceded that a sriracha-stained Croc is a life sentence. However, an odd occurrence later transpired.
Subsequent to our original report, we confined the Crocs to a mud room devoid of any direct sunlight. Over the next few days, the blemishes inexplicably began to fade until they were hardly visible. This generated a frenzy of interest from the public who conducted their own scrutiny of the occurrence. Since Croslite is a proprietary material, the exact cause of the diminishing marks will always remain a mystery. Nevertheless, we consulted a few experts who propounded some interesting theories.
Gary Wnek, the professor and chair of the department of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve University, stated that the sriracha probably dissolved into the Crocs, and that the chlorophyll in the grass may have contributed as well. Both substances appear to have decomposed in sunlight, which seems akin to how lycopene in tomato sauce vanishes from Tupperware while in the sun. Apparently, this means that simply leaving the stained Crocs to room light is enough to break down the discoloration into colorless constituents.
In response to our Instagram request for suggestions, one of our contributors, Julie Kim, posted an absorbing comment. "There's a tried and true solution for cleaning vinyl dolls- leave benzoyl peroxide on the "skin" in sunlight for a couple of hours- if not wiped off properly, the effect continues (this is problematic for dolls with darker skin)." It's plausible that the several cleaners we initially used on the Crocs may have had a slower effect than we anticipated.
In conclusion, if you are still grappling with a stubborn stain on your Crocs even after using the best cleaning tips, it might be worthwhile to simply leave them alone for a few days and see what happens.
Crocs has manufactured a specialized polish and cleaner, called Crocs Shine that retails at around and includes its cleaning solution within a sponge. Although it did enhance the luster on our Crocs, none of the cleaning products we tried were able to tackle sriracha. For regular upkeep, you are better off economizing by simply using dish soap and water. Moreover, once the sponge is depleted of the solution, you have to purchase an entirely new product. We don't believe it's worth the added environmental footprint for a little extra shine.
Looking for tips on cleaning your Birkenstock Arizona EVAs? While we had initially hoped to provide a comprehensive guide to cleaning these shoes, our side-by-side cleaning tests produced varying results for tougher stains. Therefore, we have decided to dedicate a future story to tackling the cleaning process of these "Birkencrocs" along with their leather and suede counterparts. However, for simpler stains like dirt, we have found that using a sponge and Dawn detergent does the job well. It's worth noting that, like Crocs, Birkenstock does not recommend using a washing machine to clean their EVAs.
Unfortunately, we have not found any traditional recycling centers that accept Crocs for recycling. However, Soles4Souls accepts gently used pairs as donations. To ensure longevity and preserve their condition, regular cleaning is crucial for your Crocs.
This article was edited by Joshua Lyon, Brittney Ho, and Sofia Sokolove.
Meet Your Guide
Ellen Airhart is an associate writer at Wirecutter, specializing in topics such as cleaning and emergency preparedness. Got a messy situation on your hands or feeling anxious? Don't hesitate to reach out to her via email.
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