If you know me, you know I love summer. Lounging by the pool is basically my daily routine in July and August (when I’m not filming videos for the Clean My Space YouTube channel, of course). And after our cold and nasty winter here in Canada, there’s nothing as freeing as ditching those winter boots and digging out the sandals and flip-flops.
But the luxury of sliding on those flip-flops and sandals gets a little less charming when they become smelly, sweaty, and sticky. Yuck! That’s why I’m going to teach you how to wash stinky flip-flops and sandals and how to clean leather sandals and suede insoles! There are many quick and easy ways to freshen them up, so let’s get into it.
How to Wash Stinky Flip-Flops
The easiest way to clean a bunch of rubber flip-flops at once is in the washing machine. Use the machine’s delicate setting with cold water and just a touch of detergent. Before starting the cycle, add one cup of white vinegar directly into the machine. This helps get rid of that funky sandal smell. Then, let them air dry.
If your flip-flops are decorated with beads or jewels, skip the wash unless you want to lose your decorations. Instead, give them the baking soda treatment explained below. And if your unbedazzled flip-flops still need some love after the washing machine, see below.
Clean Flip-Flops with Baking Soda
No cleaning task would be complete without one of Clean My Space’s favorite ingredients; baking soda! Baking soda is an amazingly powerful cleaning product, and almost everybody has baking soda in their home. For more great ways to use baking soda, read 10 Ways to Clean Using Baking Soda!
To use baking soda on plain rubber flip-flops (like the cheap ones you get from Old Navy), run them under warm water in the tub. Next, sprinkle your flip-flops with baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for at least five minutes. Then grab your cleaning toothbrush and scrub. And don’t forget about the soles– they go through a lot. When you’re done, leave your flip-flops to air dry.
Baking soda will clean and whiten your flip-flops and help beat that odor. However, if your flip-flops are still smelling a little ripe after the baking soda scrub, try this.
Mix baking soda with salt water so it becomes a paste. There are no perfect proportions here; you just want a paste-like consistency. Use your hands or your cleaning toothbrush to apply the paste over your flip-flops. Let this sit for ten minutes, and then scrub, scrub, scrub. When you’re finished, rinse them well with clean water until there is no baking soda residue left. And as always, air dry.
How to Clean Leather Sandals and Flip-Flops
People are often intimidated by cleaning leather. However, if you know what you’re doing, it’s really not hard. To clean leather sandals and flip-flops, saddle soap will do the trick. Saddle soap is a cleaner, smell killer, and leather softener all in one. Apply it with a damp microfiber cloth and let it sit for at least ten minutes. Then, take a clean, dry microfiber cloth and buff your shoes dry.
If your leather sandal is smelling like, well, feet, try baking soda. Sprinkle a little baking soda in the sandal and let it sit overnight. If the leather is treated, make a cleaning solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. Then, take a clean microfiber cloth and gently clean the outside of the shoe. If your leather isn’t treated, skip this step.
Not sure if your leather is treated or not? No problem, here’s how you can check. Squeeze one drop of clean water onto the shoe. If the water beads up and doesn’t absorb into the sandal, that means it’s treated leather.
To keep leather shoes smelling fresh, as soon as you (or your hubby or kids) kick those shoes off, put crumpled-up newspaper in the toe of the shoe. This newspaper attracts moisture, drying your shoe and preventing shoe odor. For more leather cleaning tips read, How to Clean a Leather Purse or Bag.
Clean Suede Insoles
This might sound a little kooky, but the best cleaning product when it comes to cleaning suede insoles. If your suede insoles have seen better days, fine grit sandpaper (used gently) will remove that layer of dirt.
Insoles can also be cleaned with a small amount of dye-free, unscented dish soap and warm water. Once again, reach for your cleaning toothbrush, but scrub gently this time. And let your suede shoes air dry in the sun, if possible.
Shoe Cleaning Tips and Tricks
Here are my favorite shoe cleaning tips and tricks to keep all your shoes smelling great!
- A fabric softener sheet (one per shoe) in the sole and tied in a plastic bag overnight ensures your shoes will smell fresh and ready for whatever the day throws at you.
- One drop each of cedarwood essential oil and sandalwood essential oil onto each shoe every day leaves behind a nice scent.
- Shoe powder is another excellent odor killer. Try my DIY shoe powder recipe.
- Don’t wear the same sandals every day – they need a chance to dry out.
How to Wash Stinky Flip-Flops and Sandals
Your summer is going to be the best summer ever, with the best ever smelling flip-flops and sandals! Just remember, baking soda is your best friend when it comes to killing unsavory odors. And give your shoes a chance to dry out and breathe between wears.
For more shoe cleaning tips read, How to Clean Crocs and How to Clean Converse Shoes. And if you’re interested in more easy DIY cleaning recipes read, DIY Floor Cleaners (Hardwood, Laminate, & Vinyl) and DIY Linen Spray: Refresh Sheets and Improve Sleep.
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