Use and Care FAQs

  1. My KEEN footwear squeaks. Is there a remedy?
  2. How come my “waterproof” shoes leak?
  3. I think I am allergic to your shoes. What can I do?
  4. My water sandals smell funny. What can I do?
  5. Wait, I own a pair of KEEN shoes that are not sandals. They have a strong smell. What can I do about this?
  6. My KEEN shoes have wool uppers. How do I clean them safely?

My KEEN footwear squeaks. Is there a remedy?

Although seldom, occasionally the slick material in our shoes slides around and creates a noise with each footstep. The remedy is simple, as suggested by our product development team; start by removing the insole/foot bed, take a small piece of medium grit sand paper and gently buff the leather lining around the inside and bottom of the shoe interior, rough up the bottom of the foot bed in the same way. If this doesn’t work then the squeak is probably coming from the outsole, which could indicate a defect in workmanship. Although this does not diminish performance, it can be annoying. If you believe you have a defective pair of shoes, we encourage you to contact your local authorized KEEN dealer to facilitate an exchange. The dealer can often replace the shoes immediately from existing inventory or even place a special order for replacement.

Our “waterproof leather” shoes are made from treated leather that will not shrink, crack, or stain if you get them wet. However, the shoes are not designed to keep your feet dry when submerged. If you feel the shoes did not perform to the extent you thought they would, we ask that you contact us via email at For a truly waterproof shoe, check out one of our styles that feature eVent or KEEN.DRY waterproof/breathable technology, such as the Targhee, Wasatch Crest or Newport Trail. The number of styles with a waterproof membrane changes from season to season so contact us directly for a current list of styles.

If skin irritation occurs gradually or after you’ve had your shoes for a while, it may be a result of external contamination picked up on the shoes – not the shoes themselves. Wash your shoes thoroughly according to the correct procedure (machine wash for water sandals, Nikwax products for nubuck and leather, mild soap/cold water for synthetic uppers and those styles featuring waterproof membrane technology). If you think they may have been exposed to Poison Oak or Poison Ivy, you might consider using Tecnu, or another similar product designed to remove plant oils. KEEN does not currently use any latex or neoprene in our products, with the exception of the Water Bootie (neoprene) and Sienna Ballerina (latex and natural rubber). The neoprene-like material lining the inside of our sandals is actually SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) or hydrophobic mesh in more recent versions. While SBR is a petrochemical based closed cell foam like neoprene, the polymers of the SBR do not contain Nitriles – the root of neoprene allergies. Occasionally someone does have an allergy to SBR, or to our antimicrobial treatment. Even more rarely, people are allergic to the Chromium found in some of our dyes. In these cases the shoes cause skin irritation from day one. Unfortunately, we are not able to make custom shoes without certain materials, but we would be happy to replace your shoes with a different style which may remedy the issue. If this is the case, contact us at for additional information.

Like any water shoe, there may be cases where the insole or upper material gets a bit funky with use. We have a few solutions, however. Your sandals are machine washable – just use cold water, gentle cycle and mild detergent. Be sure to AIR DRY only; never use heat of any kind. (the sandals will shrink or possibly melt in the dryer or if placed near a heat source). Another option is hand-washing in the sink with Nik Wax Base Wash. This product works well in eliminating odors in synthetic materials used in outdoor gear. Once the sandals are clean and dry, rub Tea Tree essential oil into the upper lining and foot bed. Essential Tea Tree Oil is a non-allergenic natural antiseptic. Another good product is Paxton’s Sandal Saver. You may also try Odor Eaters Powder applied directly to the inside of the shoes after wearing them. This powder has odor-absorbing properties. Such odor often originates from the sweat in the SBR (neoprene-like) lining of the sandal. Paxton’s Sandal Saver is a great, all natural product as well. If none of the above options work, there may be an issue with the antimicrobial agent applied to the shoe when they were made. If you’ve tried everything and think this is the case, contact us via email at for further warranty instructions.

Step number one: Clean the insoles. Remove them from the shoes and wash by hand in the sink with warm water, mild soap or detergent, and a soft brush or washcloth. Once air dried (remember, never use any heat), rub the insoles and inside lining of the shoe with a small amount of Tea Tree essential oil – a non-allergenic natural antiseptic. If none of the above solutions work, we may be able to assist with warranty if the shoes are less than one year old. Contact us via email at for further information.

Make sure you do NOT put wool shoes in the washing machine. Although a light brushing with a medium bristle brush works well, use spot-removing foam for heavy contamination, followed by a brushing. One other option involves "dry cleaning" in the dryer. Place the shoes in a dry cleaning bag and follow the steps outlined for the dry cleaning solution. Some pilling is inevitable with wool. You may be able to eliminate a good portion of this pilling by passing a disposable razor lightly over the surface of the shoe upper.