With warmer weather comes the ultimate summer wardrobe staple: the sandal. Whether you’re a fan of understated slip-ons or buckled Birkenstocks, there’s no way you could possibly transition your closet into summer mode without considering a pair of sandals. What’s the tea on how to clean sandals, though?
Sandals, like all shoes, can use a little maintenance to keep them looking their best. We know you’re tired of cleaning out your closet and getting rid of spring staples to make room for summer to take over, but you do need to give your sandals a little love, too. After all, they can make or break your outfit.
Warm weather almost always brings the need for a pair (or two!) of solid summer sandals, but when you’re a thrift store devotee, you might need an arsenal of cleaning supplies to ensure you don’t get a bad case of athlete’s foot. Worry not, though, we’re here to help you figure out how to clean sandals.
How often do you need to clean sandals?
Well, isn’t that a question we’ve all pondered as the sun shines down on our toes and puts a spotlight on the dirt and debris hanging out on top of our sandals? Whether you scored a great deal at the thrift store or dug out the sandals you wore the whole of last summer, you will need to clean your sandals thoroughly.
Now, keeping your sandals spruced up isn’t just about looking dapper. Needless to say, cleaning them regularly will make them look better and last longer, as well as prevent them from giving you smelly feet. Clean sandals are comfortable sandals, and that’s something to keep in mind, too.
We recommend giving them a gentle clean every few weeks or every time you notice them looking a little run-down. Use a soft brush to get rid of dirt and debris, go over them with a damp, clean cloth to wipe away any stubborn spots, and resort to cleaning hacks and DIY solutions to remove serious stains.
Cleaning your sandals regularly can make a world of difference. Keeping them fresh ensures that they’re always ready to be worn, whether you’re going to work, grabbing brunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or even attending a wedding. After you’ve given your sandals a spa day, you’re good to go!
How to clean sandals
1. Figure out the material
Before you even prepare your supplies, make sure you determine the material of your sandals. Different materials require different care. Leather, suede, and fabric sandals aren’t made the same way and aren’t meant to be cleaned the same way.
Sure, you might manage to get your sandals sort of clean with a soft brush and a clean cloth, but you might risk ruining them, too. Leather, suede, and fabric each have their own cleaning needs, and that’s why you need to make sure you’re cleaning them correctly.
2. Clean leather sandals with warm water and a clean cloth
Leather sandals are some of the most common summer sandals because they’re comfortable, wearable, and pretty easy to maintain. If you’re not sure how to clean sandals made of leather, you can always resort to warm water and a clean cloth.
Start by wiping away any dirt or debris with a clean cloth or a soft brush. Dampen another cloth with water and add a drop of mild soap. Warm water might be enough for regular maintenance, but mild soap might be better when you have stains and spots.
Gently clean the surface, paying attention to different parts of the sandals that tend to hold onto dirt. Allow your sandals to air dry, but make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent them from cracking or fading.
3. Clean leather sandals with vinegar
When you’re on the hunt for something a little more serious, you can always clean your leather sandals with vinegar. Distilled white vinegar can be a gentle yet effective leather cleaner solution.
What you’re going to want to do is mix one part vinegar with one part water. Then start cleaning your sandals by dipping a clean cloth in the solution, wringing it out, and gently scrubbing your sandals to remove excess dirt and debris or even sweat stains. Allow your sandals to air dry and you’re good to go.
4. Clean leather sandals with a toothbrush and baking soda
What are you supposed to do when you get your sandals muddy or grimy, and you aren’t able to clean them with a cloth?
Strappy sandals, slides, and sandals with leather footbeds can be cleaned with a toothbrush, especially when you need to get to those hard-to-reach areas of your sandals. Get your hands on a soft toothbrush (please not a hard one!) and a little bit of baking soda.
Start by mixing three parts baking soda with one part water to create a paste. Dip the toothbrush into the paste, then gently scrub the uppers, footbeds, and soles of your sandals. Wipe off excess baking soda and allow your sandals to air dry.
5. Clean suede sandals with a suede brush
Suede sandals are sensitive – you might not be able to clean them with a regular brush or a toothbrush. So, to avoid damaging your sandals, get your hands on a side brush guaranteed to keep suede protected and taken care of.
Use a suede brush to remove grime, and always remember to brush in the direction of the fibers to avoid damaging the material. Wipe your suede sandals with a clean cloth when you’re done and allow them to air dry. Avoid direct heat to maintain the shape of your sandals and the suede’s texture.
6. Clean suede footbeds with sandpaper
Now that we know how to clean sandals made of suede, you might be wondering how to clean suede footbeds. Worry not, we’ve got your back! Suede footbeds can get grimy and mucky, and you might be struggling to clean them without ruining the material.
Sandpaper might sound silly, but you can actually use fine-grit sandpaper to clean your sandals. All you need to do is gently rub the sandpaper in small circular motions until the stubborn stains come out, and that’s it. Remove excess sandpaper dust when you’re done, and you’re ready to take on the day!
7. Clean suede sandals with a suede cleaner
Are you fighting the good fight by trying to remove stubborn stains from your suede sandals without getting them wet, but the dirt isn’t budging? No worries – a suede brush and some sandpaper might not work for everyone.
A suede cleaner, on the other hand, can get your sandals ready for the summer. White vinegar and rubbing alcohol work wonderfully, too, but a suede cleaner is a surefire way to get your sandals clean. Follow the instructions it comes with and get to work.
8. Wash fabric and sports sandals with mild detergent
Fabric and sports sandals get dirty the moment you put them on your feet, right? Following everything we mentioned beforehand, you can clean them by mixing a small amount of mild detergent and warm water.
Start by scrubbing them with a soft brush to get rid of excess grime. Focus on the soles and footbeds, but go over the entire surface of the sandal, just in case. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture, wring it out, and wipe your sandals clean. Rinse them thoroughly with warm water and allow them to air dry.
9. Hand wash water-resistant sandals
What are you supposed to do with sandals made of rubber, foam, neoprene, recycled plastic, or another water-safe material? Wash them by hand, of course! Fill up a big bowl with warm water and soak your sandals for fifteen minutes or so.
Gently scrub them with a soft brush or a toothbrush to get rid of the dirt. Add a couple of drops of mild detergent or dish soap to make the mixture stronger and better. Let your sandals soak for another fifteen minutes before you rinse them with warm water. Allow them to air dry.
How to prevent sandals from smelling
Smelly sandals aren’t uncommon, considering that your feet are more likely to sweat during hot summer days. So, you might need to address the problem with a few preventative and maintenance steps that guarantee to keep your sandals smelling fresh and clean.
First things first, maintaining foot hygiene is paramount. Smelly feet cause smelly sandals, there’s no question about that. When you’re getting ready to go out, make sure you clean and dry your feet before you put your sandals on.
Furthermore, maintain the hygiene of your sandals, too. We already gave you a few of our favorite tips and tricks on how to clean sandals, but also allow sandals to air out in a well-ventilated space to aid in dissipating moisture and odor, too.
Finally, you can always resort to specialized foot sprays and powders designed to tackle odor and promote freshness. Whatever you do, remember that a little maintenance goes a long way!