Sperry boat shoes are the granddaddy of all boat shoes. The brainchild of Paul Sperry, who dreamed them up while on a sail with his cocker spaniel in 1935, Sperry boat shoes manage to look both classy and casual -- except when they've had a run-in with oil stains. But before you toss that oil-stained pair overboard, direct some prompt attention to removing the stain, and the shoes may live to see another beach. Match your cleaning method with the type of material your boat shoe is made of and consult a professional cleaner if your efforts still can't manage to get the stain out.
If it's your Sperry authentic-leather boat shoes that you've managed to splash oil on, get your hands on cornstarch or talcum powder as soon as possible. Sprinkle some onto the stain and vigorously rub the powder into the leather. Carefully wipe or brush the cornstarch or powder off, pour more onto the stain and rub in again. Repeat, if needed. Each time you do this, you'll allow the powder to absorb and remove more of the oil. Fortunately, Sperry leather boat shoes are made from leather that is both stain and water resistant, so removing fresh oil stains may take only a few minutes of effort. After the stain is gone, the manufacturer recommends treating the shoe with a gel or cream-based, leather-protection product to help prevent further stain mishaps.
Suede Sperry shoes that are stained with oil can be cleaned in almost the same way as leather shoes: as soon as you notice the stain, pour talcum powder or cornstarch onto the affected area and rub it in. The difference in cleaning oil stains from suede shoes is that you should leave the powder in place for at least two hours after rubbing it into the stain. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove the powder and repeat the procedure if the oil stain is still visible.
Sperry shoes made from canvas require a cleaning method different from leather or suede shoes when it comes to removing oil stains. Apply a commercial laundry-stain remover to the oil spot and allow the shoes to sit, undisturbed, for five to 10 minutes. Rinse off the stain remover, then brush any dirt off all parts of the shoe with a soft-bristled brush. Use a small towel, shoe cleaner and water to scrub the entire shoe, paying special attention to the area with the pretreated oil stain. Cleanse the soap off the shoes with a clean, moistened towel, stuff the shoes' interiors with crumpled paper towels and allow them to air dry.
The oil cloth that Sperry's oil-cloth boat shoes are made from consists of an outer layer of vinyl that has a cotton backing. The outer layer cannot be permanently stained by oil -- it is both stain resistant and waterproof. To clean oil off of oil-cloth shoes, simply wipe them with a mild cleanser on a sponge or towel, and dry them with a cloth. After cleaning the outside of the shoes, stuff the inside with paper towels or newspaper and allow them to dry completely.