Back in the 1930s, shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo developed the first cork-soled shoes using wine corks. The cork soles on your shoes or sandals may be sturdier than Ferragamo’s wine stoppers, but the material still is not as durable as leather or PVC soles, and requires special care and cleaning. Start by protecting your cork soles when they’re new. If the cork looks shiny, it has probably been treated with cork sealant. If not, buy cork sealant at the shoe store or online, and apply it according to the package instructions. Keep your cork-soled shoes away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

Careful Cleaning

It’s difficult to keep shoes completely clean, so when your cork soles become scuffed or dirty, clean them right away to prevent lasting stains and damage. Use a mild soap product, such as dish soap, baby shampoo or gentle detergent for delicate fabrics, and add a capful to about a half gallon of warm water. Add vinegar to boost the cleaning power if you wish. After you brush off as much dirt as you can, dip a soft cloth into the solution, and wring out excess water. Gently wipe the dirt using a circular motion rather than scrubbing. Try not to soak the cork, but only wet the surface. Once the dirt is gone, dip the cloth in plain water and wipe off any soap residue. You can also buy an all-natural sneaker cleaning solution that does not need to be rinsed away. Let the cork soles air dry thoroughly, and then reapply the cork sealant to protect them.