Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The unsolicited review follow-up: Don't wash your Merrell Wonder Gloves in the laundry.

Do you recall the post of love for my Merrell Wonder Gloves?  Well, I still love the comfort, but I was sad when this happened:

If you look at my right hand shoe, you'll see that the leather is all discolored.  There was nothing in English in the shoe that stated that I couldn't wash these shoes in the laundry.  I put them in with a few sheets to keep them from beating against the side of the washer.

I love these shoes.

I paid $100.00 for these shoes.

I pulled them out of the washer, noticed the discoloration and hoped for good things that it would fade.

It didn't.

I went ahead and pulled my trusty shoe box back out.  I bought them from and I knew that they advertised a 365 day guarantee.  That's why I purchased them through them, because I was stupid and didn't read their guarantee.  Yes, they do have a 365 day guarantee for NEW shoes.  Really?

When I pulled out said box and looked at the little booklet that came with the shoes-- the same booklet that shows people jumping, running and playing-- on the very back page it states about washing instructions and that involves not laundering the leather shoes.

Gee, I wished that there was something printed in my shoes about that.

I e-mailed Merrell.  Here was my bit:

I purchased a pair of Wonder Gloves in Aluminum 2 months ago.  I dearly love these shoes.  I noticed that they had gotten some surface dirt on them and laundered them in cold water, light soap and with a few sheets to buffer the washer.  The one shoe looks like something has started to work out of the leather somehow.  Frankly, they look ruined and I am beyond broken hearted.  Other than suede, I've always laundered shoes lightly because, as my husband asked, who doesn't launder shoes?  Shoes get wet and while these didn't get tremendously wet during my wear of them for the last few months, I was shocked and mortified that they did this.  I paid $100. for the shoes and purchased them to wear because I had broken my foot in early fall and found that traditional shoes were making my foot ache.  These did not at all.  I have the box, order slip and packing materials.  I even blogged about my love for these shoes (  What can you do to help me? 

This email has been delivered to the
service staff of MERRELL.COM

Their response was:

Hello Amy,

Because the Wonder Glove is a full grain leather, we would not recommend putting them in the washing machine. The ONLY styles we would suggest putting in the washing machine are the Barefoot styles that do not have leather in the construction.  All of our other shoes are not to be put in the washing machine, but only hand washed. 

I am sorry to hear that the washing machine ruined your shoes, and we would like to offer you a special accommodation so you can replace those.  I do have a promotional code that is good for a 20% discount plus free shipping.  This code would be valid on your next purchase at  Please let me know if you would like this special offer.

Thanks for your inquiry,

Consumer Relations Account Specialist

Because I was more than delighted (sarcasm) with his response, I sent this:

There was nothing on the inside of the shoe that gave me any clear indication that they shouldn't be laundered gently in the washer. This is so frustrating. I take impeccable care of things that I own and had I have known (there is nothing that I have encountered that says hand wash only) and I appear to have burned $100.00 on a pair of shoes that look like complete crap. I paid (willingly) full price as they seemed to be the answer to all of my questions. Lovely. They are shoes I bought to wear to work and now can now longer wear them there.

Fantastic. I'll be sure to follow my glowing review up with a caution not to laundering the barefoot shoes. I'll make sure to post a photo so that they know what they'll be left to wear. A shoe company selling shoes for exercise might want to consider using materials that will withstand an occasional laundering since the general reason people buy them is to wear for outdoor sports. Unlaundered gym shoes? Yuck. Hand washing? I'm thinking that they would need a bit deeper clean, but that's what got me into this problem to begin with.



Gee, and can you believe that he didn't comment back?  I'll give my amended review:

1.  The shoes truly do fit wonderfully and are very comfortable.  They don't slip or slide, rub weird or give me any issues with my previously broken foot.
2.  My feet do get hot in them.  My feet can actually sweat in them.  I do not normally have this issue and it was brought up in the comments when I read them before buying.  I would suggest giving a few breather holes.   After all, sweaty feet in shoes (though the treatment that they give them does keep them from smelling) still makes you want to launder them.  Sweaty feet and glove-like fit of shoes = the want to launder all that was locked in.  Call me crazy.
3.  Stamp on the shoe on the inside IN ENGLISH "hand wash only."  There are tiny symbols in there but for the love of Pete, those who only know what those mean are probably people in the industry.
4.  The sole, even after wearing them nearly exclusively for two months, shows very little wear.  Vibram is a good thing.

I have chosen not to replace my newish shoes with another pair.  It's not that I wouldn't love them, but when people ask, "What happened to your shoes?"  I can tell them.  I laundered them gently in the washer.  I mean, it was lovely for Merrell to offer a discount and all, but it was hard enough for me to part with the $100.00.  A discounted pair would be $80.00.  Thanks, but, I'll just have to embarrassingly wear my discolored ones.

Who knew? 

Smiles in my day:

-  This is Dash, the baby bunny who lives in the backyard.  He gave out an all call to other rabbits.  I now find large bunnies lounging in the very same way.  As far as Dash is concerned, he knows us and as I was cruising around yesterday, realized he was about 2 feet away.  I pulled out my camera and took some photos.  How could I resist?  The dash of white on his noggin?  That's why he's called Dash.  ;)
-  Rachael came through surgery well and J, K-'s sister, does not need surgery to reattach the sliver of bone to her hip.  Hooray!
-  We hit a lovely sale at Old Navy the other day and got K- some clothes for next summer.

Obviously, I was not paid for my review of these shoes.  Other than the offer of a 20% discount and free shipping (which I did not take), I received nothing for my honest opinion.


Susan said...

Hi, I left a comment yesterday but it seems perhaps it was a fail? I won't repeat but just sum it up:

I have never heard of putting shoes (other than canvas lace-ups) in the wash, and am surprised you would think it's ok. Just my opinion. Never in a million years would have gently washed shoes in machine.

Spot cleaned yes - on the kitchen counter :-)

I'm sorry Merrell didn't refund you and replace but I understand their position and think it's reasonable. Just wish they had given you 40 % off with free shipping - that would haves been nice!

Just my 2 cents

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

So sorry about your shoes. The only ones I usually wash are my Crocs or tennis shoes. I have Merrill's but they are suede so it never occurred to me to wash them.

Bailey's Leaf said...

Maybe it is because we're outdoor people. We've always laundered shoes (since they get strapped to your feet and get a lot of wear.) Think of it as your coat. You wouldn't think to just strictly spot wash a coat. Shoes see a lot more action and like a coat, covers vital things. Hubs hikes for his job and just yesterday, he ended up having to hop into a pond to go after an easy up tent that went by way of Mary Poppins (that is, flew up, up and away!) He laundered his shoes and had them sitting out to dry. K-'s puddle jumpers (Teva Toachi's) and my (when I could wear them) Teva flip flops were laundered on a regular basis. Tennis shoes get a laundering every 6 weeks - 2 months (depending upon dirtiness.) I guess we looked at it as not terribly healthy to walk along in grubbin' foot covers! :S

Susan said...

Thanks for the follow up. Teva's are especially water-worthy and likely tough enough to wash in your dishwasher!

I have Teva's and regularly set them in the sink and scrub away. I'm not sure that the drum of a washer machine is designed to deal with a shoe, so now I'm wondering :-)

I was born and raised in Alaska - our solution to shoes that may be a bit less than clean - take them off at the door :-)

Bailey's Leaf said...


You made me laugh about shoes at the door. We love to do that, but not all subscribe.

Believe me, the gasp and want to self glove-smack when I pulled the shoes out of the laundry and saw on the tiny tag on the backside about not laundering, I could have just been ill. I continue to wear the shoes, they are what they are and I need to learn to be a bit less precious and finicky about stuff like that anyhow.

To that we say, lesson learned.

Anonymous said...

Glad I read this BEFORE I tossed mine in the wash. They are getting stinky, and my Vibrams go in with no problem. My concern was with the sole messing up not the leather, but since these have a vibran sole I was none to worried. Guess I'll find another way to get the funk out.

Anonymous said...

Really? You washed leather? Before looking at the instructions? And you want a replacement?? And you're unhappy that you weren't given one.

I came here because I was looking for washing instructions on my Merrell barefoot shoes (the ones that are plastic and not at all leather). I woudn't be so silly to wash them without checking first.

Yeah. Think about your coat. I wouldn't dare wash my coat without checking first -- ESPECIALLY if it were leather.

Not like it makes any difference, but you even said, "saw on the tiny tag".

I'm Merrell doesn't provide replacements for this type of thing... it'd cause *my* shoes to cost even more!

With all that being said, one of the reasons I'm so harsh is because I had a great experience with Merrell customer service. The plastic (?) toe box popped inwards after 6 months, I emailed them to ask how to pop it out, and they offered an exchange. If anything, I was frustrated with them for not giving me DIY instructions (which I ended up figuring out for myself).

Bailey's Leaf said...

Um, thanks for that lashing with the wet noodle. I asked, but didn't get a replacement, but have bought more Merrell.

Hoping that you have a better day. Yikes. I don't know that I would have left such a message on someone else's blog-- especially being anonymous.

Obviously, you side on a bit different with shoes and laundering. It's all good. Just trying to avoid people making the same mistake-- yes, I said MISTAKE-- as I did.

Thanks for the love.

Anonymous said...

Darn and I was hoping to put my in the washer!! Guess I'd better get out the scrub brush. Thanks for the information!!

Rachel C. said...

I just bought a pair of these shoes to wear through Italy this summer and was worried about them getting stinky so I googled it and got you. : ) I really appreciate you posting about your mistake! I might have tried the same thing. Spot cleaning just doesn't do it for shoe funk!

No wonder people only write about the happy, perfect things they do in their lives on their blogs -- if you don't, you get verbally flayed! And I was impressed with your responses to the criticism. It's nice to have people like you on this planet. Way to go!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Like others, I ended up here having Googled to find out if I could wash my Merrells. Mine are minimalist running shoes and seem to be all plastic which is why I'm even thinking about it.

Have to say - while not wanting to give you any more of a wet noodle lashing - that I would not DREAM of washing anything made of leather without finding specific instructions telling me I could do so. I've washed two lambskins because they said 'washable' and have been surprised at how well they did, but shoes? Never. I would expect them to be destroyed. Would you wash a leather handbag (purse)?

And the thought of putting shoes in a dishwasher? That makes my stomach turn ...

I have some sympathy with you because many shoes ARE machine washable these days. I'd still check first, though, or you have no leg to stand on if it all goes wrong. I've never done it, because (I'm guessing you're younger than me) this is a recent development. I'm used to wiping, brushing, and polishing shoes, but never washing them.

Hey, at least I'm not anonymous! ;)

Bailey's Leaf said...


Thanks so much for the polite and not anonymous noodle lashing. (It wasn't really a noodle lashing.) I agree that yes, I did make an assumption that laundering them was safe, but I promised that I haven't laundered them in the washer again. In fact, I made my husband very happy when I purchased BLACK shoes in the very same style. ;) I do wear the laundered ones all the time. We walk every night and I do love them. (Hubs has no idea how I can stand them, but the squishy shoes were making my previously broken foot angry!)

I agree. I can't imagine and would never want to place my shoes in the dishwasher. I'm a bit of a germaphobe and oh, the thought. :shiver with a touch of scrunchy face: Yuck.

How do I wash them now? I pull out a bucket, I put in a light swish of soap, give them a dunk, a pass with a brush (if needed) and a good rinsing. I've only done it with the previously laundered Wonder Gloves because I figure that I have nothing to lose!

You have a delightful blog. I look forward to popping in from time to time to see what interesting posts you may have up.

Thanks for stopping by!

Heather D said...

As a few of the previous comments say, I found your blog while googling how to clean my barefoot wonder glove shoes, which are white. I'm very glad to have found your blog as I was assuming I could wash them in the washer as well (and from other comments, I'm assuming we must both be very dim to have thought that). I'm especially glad I found this prior to doing that as I am having a hard time finding white ones anywhere and they're the shoes I bought for my wedding but loved so much I wear them everywhere. To ruin them before my wedding would have made me very sad. I will now hand-wash my shoes as they are getting dingy (who knew white shoes would get dirty?)

Thanks for posting this to your blog and you have done a great job responding to the criticism. Maybe you're not so dim after all... ;)

Heather D said...

First off, this may show up twice as I tried to publish this a minute ago and it disappeared somehow. I Googled how to clean my shoes and found your blog. Anyway, thank you for writing about this, I too, had planned to throw my Merrell barefoot glove shoes in the washer to get them clean, so apparently, as I've noted from previous comments, I'm just as dim as you were for thinking you could do that. My shoes are white and I'm having a difficult time finding them again, apparently they've been discontinued or something. I bought them for my wedding in a couple of months and I would have been very sad to ruin them before I got to wear them for that. I love them so much that I wear them everywhere and surprisingly, white shoes get dirty (is that news to you too?)

You've done a nice job responding to the critics out there, keep it up, don't let them bring you down!

Thanks and I'll be hand-washing my shoes to get them squeaky clean again!

Anonymous said...

If nothing else your post helped me. I have the exact same shoes and I wondered how to remove a few surface stains. As far as putting leather in a washing machine, I put leather tennis shoes in all the time with no issue.

Anonymous said...

I've got three pairs of Merrell barefoot shoes. I regularly wash my Merrell running non-suede shoes in the washer, and they always come ou looking like new. The other ones i wash have suede trim in them. I was about to toss my suede Merrells in the wash because the other ones come out looking great. I'm really glad I found your blog because i would apparently have ruined my shoes.

I'm not clear why people are being so sanctimonious with you. They are barefoot shoes, and I'd expect anything deisgned like that for athletic use to be washable.

Unknown said...

Well, I've got a pair of stinky Merrell Pro Terra Sports in the washing machine right now. It came down to the fact that they stink so bad I wouldn't wear them again and deodorising sprays did absolutely nothing for them so this was a last resort. I'll know if they survived in about half an hour....

Matt said...

Thanks for your post. I have the exact same shoes (in the same color), and love them. Sadly, they are looking a little dingy and smelling a little stinky. I found your site because I knew I needed to clean them somehow, but wasn't sure about a machine washing. I'm glad I checked. Thanks for this post and that picture. You saved me from making the same mistake. I am forever grateful! -Emily =)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bailey Lef for the information on these shoes. After reading your post, I decided not to put my shoes in the washing machine, and cleaned the material only down the wides of the shoes. The water from the spot cleaning still ran into the creases of the leather, and mine dont look much better than yours. I will be looking for a different brand next time. I wont be buying Merrell again. I will try Keen I think.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I received a comment about this post. It was harsh and unnecessary. I understand that people have different views about washing shoes, much less laundering leather shoes.

I have done it.

I have done it several times.

I have done it successfully all times but this one.

To call me names and to question my intelligence in the manner that you did, Anonymous, is unnecessary and will not be posted here. Comment moderation is on for a reason. It's trolls like you who comment moderation are on for.

I have printed plenty of comments where people disagree with my post. I'm quite okay with that. Some of them have been put a bit more harshly than I prefer, but I'm all for freedom of speech.

Don't be a troll. Go forth and be a kind person.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cautionary tale! I was just about to chuck my Merrell's into the wash when I considered, "maybe I should google that first!"

Sorry you had to experience in first, but thank you for sharing.

Karen said...

Thankyou for sharing this! I have just ordered the same pair of Merrell shoes today! And I'll not be putting them in the washing machine like I usually do with my shoes to freshen them up, cheers! Most appreciated info��

Anonymous said...

I found your blog post for the same reason as many others have stated - looking up how to wash certain types of Merrills. I will simply state that I found your response to Chris, the Merrill customer service representative, to be unnecessarily snarky and disrespectful to him in his role, and not at all humorous.

Bailey's Leaf said...


I'm sorry that you feel that way. I was posting a cautionary tale for those looking to see how to launder Merrell barefoot shoes. That is how you stated that you found the post. I hope that my post served you well and taught you that despite Merrell's lack of good labeling for adult outdoor play shoes, I was able to more clarify what they did not in their packaging and saved you from ruining the very shoes you purchased and presumably love. To that I say with no snark, no disrespect and no additional humor involved-- you're welcome.