How-to Clean Your Flip Flops (and Sandals too!)


I love summer. After our cold and nasty winter, there’s nothing as freeing as ditching those winter boots and digging out the sandals and flip flops. But with hot days and being outside comes sweaty and smelly feet. And with that – dirty and smelly shoes. Yuck!  If you don’t clean your sandals, why not get started now? Luckily there are many quick and easy ways to freshen them up.

Cleaning Rubber Flip Flops

Baking Soda Spa Treatment

No cleaning task would be complete without one of Clean My Space’s favorite ingredients, baking soda!

For plain rubber flip flops – like the cheap ones you get from Old Navy – run them under warm water in the tub.

Next sprinkle with baking soda. Leave for at least five minutes and scrub off with an old toothbrush. And don’t forget about the soles – they go through a lot. (Baking soda will help with the smell too).

If they still smell after that, mix baking soda with salt water so it becomes a paste. Use the toothbrush to scrub and then rinse them off with clean water.

Throw ‘em in the wash

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. Adding one cup of vinegar to the wash helps get rid of that funky sandal smell. Let them air dry.

If they’re still a bit grimy after going through the wash, the baking soda-toothbrush trick will get them looking like new again.  The washer didn’t work for me when I tested it on a pair, but I would still encourage you to experiment.  These things can be hit or miss.

Avoid the washing machine if your flip flops are decorated with beads or jewels – otherwise they’ll come out looking a tad sad!

Cleaning suede flip flops and sandals

Sandpaper: I know, it sounds weird. But if your suede insoles have seen better days, fine grit sandpaper, used gently, will remove that stubborn layer of dirt.

The insoles can also be cleaned with a small amount of dish soap (without dyes or smells) in warm water and rubbed on gently with that old toothbrush.

Cleaning leather flip flops and sandals

Saddle soap will do the trick – it’s a cleaner, smell killer and leather softener all in one.  Apply with a damp cloth, let it sit and then buff it dry.  It’s a terrific product!

For an easy DIY fix sprinkle baking soda in the sandal, leave it for a day. If the leather’s treated, dip a soft cloth in a vinegar-water mixture to clean the outside.

How to tell if it’s treated, you ask? 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.

As soon as you (or your hubby, or kids) kick those shoes off, put crumpled-up newspaper in the toe – this will attract moisture into the newspaper and keep them from stinking. So easy, and now you have another use for that pile of papers before they get recycled (you’re welcome)!

Other tips and tricks

What do you do to keep your sandals in tip-top shape? Let me know in the comments below!

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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.


  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.


  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: 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,


    • 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.


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