How to Wash Stinky Flip-Flops and Sandals

264649

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. 

A row of colorful flip-flops

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. 

clean with baking soda

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.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on amazon.com.
Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

27 COMMENTS

  1. I need help for my husbands stinky sandles. Tried wsshing maching, scrubing with brushes. I realy care about cleaning this p as ie bc he is so hard to gir, and they are reefs ($). The smell is coming from inside the sole, very clean on the outside. So please HELP ! stink’n in silence, from Tx.

    • Clarks Sandal & Clog Cleaner works very well. I went to clean up some white White Mountain leather sandals and I was planning to use white shoe polish on them after cleaning to restore their color. It turns out I didn’t even need the white polish. The Clarks sandal and clog cleaner did such an amazing job. I know this isn’t a hack but it works!

  2. Didn’t work for me.
    Seriously, using good ol’ dish soap, warm water and scrubbing the sandals with a sponge is the only thing that has worked for me.

  3. This was amazing! This tip gets a 10! I have a pair of orange Merrell sandals that I love and have had for many years. The part that your foot slips into was so dirty that I was embarrassed to wear them anywhere but around the house. I used the baking soda, water, hydrogen peroxide and the toothbrush. The dirt came off so easily…and they’re orange again. This summer, I’ll give all the rest of my flip flops and sandals a good cleaning. Thank you Melissa!

  4. I have Merrell (fairly) expensive sandals with a microfiber base. The inside of the sole gets pretty dirty from bare feet. I clean them with a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol. You can see the dirt on the cloth. They dry more quickly than using soap and water.

  5. Holy cow! I have some seriously stinky flip flops that I love and was on the verge of tossing in the trash. I just tried your baking soda/saltwater paste tip and they no longer stink!! I’m a new believer in the power of baking soda!!!

  6. I washed my car with my rubber flips on and now they are kinda waterlogged and soap tends to seep out when I wear them, even a week later! How can I completely dry them out back to normal?

  7. I wore my rubber flips while washing the car, and now they are kinda water logged and when I wear them soap still seeps out, even a week later! Ive cleaned them and air dried them, but its still in there. How can I get them completely dry?

  8. I soak my flip flops in cold water with Oxi Clean, then rinse them with the hose and dry outside. Great tips thanks!

  9. Every fall. I throw all my sandals in my dishwasher. Tevas, Keens, flip flops, crocs, anything rubbery. With a regular dishwasher soap pod (I use plant based kinds from Target.).
    Gets them clean all at once. I take them out before they dry, and then run the next load as a sanitary cycle with things like my compost pail and sink drains, etc. before I put actual dish wear back in The dish washer.

  10. Most of the time I would go ahead and throw out the dirty ones and spend the $5 on brand new ones. However, some of them match exactly and outfit or something, and there’s just no way to find another in that style or color or something, so cleaning is worth it. Really appreciate the tips.

  11. I GOT A PAIR OF BLACK MK JELLY SANDALS AND THEY HAVE LIKE WATER STAINS I TRIED MAGIC ERASER, ERASER, DISH SOAP, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING WORKED, HELP!!!

  12. Hello,

    Thank you for all your videos. I’ve just watched your last one on cleaning flip-flops and I do something quite similar with mine except that I use a bigger brush, something like this: http://www.dx.com/p/creative-penguin-style-plastic-laundry-shoe-cleaning-brush-random-color-155946#.U56ru7HrxNs and it takes only two minutes. I still have to use the toothbrush for the nooks and cranies (around the plastic bands for example) but it goes so much faster, especially for the soles.
    I also do it in the bath with soap instead of baking soda and it works well, they really look new (the pattern has faded slightly fromt he brushing but I was expecting that).

    Best wishes,

    Eléonore

    • I just made a baking soda and vinegar paste and covered or flip flops, I will wait until they dry up and take them outside and rinse them with clean water. Anything to get the sweaty – stench smell out of them. Hope it works…..they will dry in the sun all day tomorrow. Wish me luck!! Oh yeah…I have old tooth brushes if need be. Thank you.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here