I love the summer and the freedom of wearing lighter clothes and sandals with no socks or tights. I don’t however enjoy how my feet sometimes sweat on a hot day and how it can make my sandals stink afterward. If you want to learn how to clean smelly leather sandals then I have accumulated a series of cleaning tips over the years which can help to get your footwear smelling fresh again.
The good news is that it isn’t as hard as it seems to clean your sandals and that there are plenty of cheap household products you can use to prevent shoe odor and absorb moisture. Here are some of my favorite hacks to help absorb smells and remove dirt and grime from leather sandals.
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A Word of Advice
Before I begin just a word of warning. Whilst I have tried and tested many of these methods on my own leather shoes and sandals it always makes sense to do a patch test first with the products, especially on expensive footwear.
Some products can darken your leather or change its appearance so testing with a small amount of product in an inconspicuous place makes sense before you use these methods on expensive sandals. When you are happy with the initial results then you can deodorize and clean your sandals all over knowing you won’t be stuck with a problem.
How to Clean Leather Sandals at Home
If you want to know how to clean smelly leather sandals start with this really simple method.
Get a damp cloth and wipe your sandals down with it to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated on the leather.
When you have finished wiping the leather and then allowed them to air dry use leather cleaner or saddle soap to clean the sandals. You don’t need much just a small amount on a dry soft cloth should do the trick.
Saddle soap in particular is great for cleaning leather plus it helps to add natural oils back into the footwear preventing the leather from drying out.
Deep Cleaning Your Shoes and Leather Sandals
Whilst the damp cloth method can help to clean your leather sandals it isn’t going to give them a deep clean. If you want to know how to clean smelly leather sandals then you need a specialist product like Jason Markk Deep Cleaning Solution. This product is safe for leather, suede, nubuck, canvas, vinyl, nylon, and cotton so it won’t just help to clean your sandals.
All you need to do is dip the brush that comes supplied with the product and dip it into some water. Then apply some of the cleaning solution to the brush and start to gently scrub your footwear. Remove any excess product with a dry cloth and allow your sandals to completely dry before wearing them.
This product is a great way to deep clean sandals that are grubby so they look like new again.
Using a Shoe Deodorizer and Foot Spray
I will talk about plenty of home remedies that can help to solve the smelly leather sandal problem but one of the easiest ways to solve the problem is to buy a foot spray that can remove smells.
There are plenty on the market that can help but I personally like this Foot Sense Shoe Deodorizer because it uses natural ingredients instead of strong chemicals.
If you are going to use this particular product you are probably going to need to spray your sandals before each wear especially in the hot summer months. However, it is worth it to remove the bad smells and to keep your footwear and feet smelling good.
How to Remove Bad Smells From Sandals With Vinegar
Another great cleaning product that I use when I am cleaning smelly footwear is white vinegar. I never use it neat but mix one part vinegar with one part water and then mix the solution together.
Then use a clean soft cloth and dip it into your cleaning solution. Start to gently rub the leather and the footbed of your sandal with the damp cloth. The solution should help to remove dirt and grime whilst the vinegar should help to absorb bad odors.
Keep on dipping the cloth into the solution until you have cleaned the whole of the sandal and then let them air dry. This is a really cheap and easy way to clean smelly sandals with minimal hassle and cost.
If Your Sandals Smell Really Bad Try Baking Soda
Another of my favorite products to help neutralize smells in footwear is baking soda. I am not a baker but I always have a supply of this in my cupboards because it is a great multi-tasking cleaning product.
The easiest way to use this is to place your footwear in a plastic bag and then sprinkle baking soda on top of your sandals. I close the bag and leave it overnight.
Baking soda is another great household product that neutralizes smells so when you open the bag the following morning you should find that the bad odor has gone. If you don’t have baking soda in your cupboards cornstarch is a good alternative.
Just remember that baking soda doesn’t clean your sandals so if you need dirt removed as well you will need to use one of the other methods first to get your footwear clean.
Use Rubbing Alcohol to Neutralize Smells
Another product that I always have in the house is rubbing alcohol. I’ve used it to get rid of mold on leather, clean pierced ears and to clean sandals and shoes so that they smell fresh again.
Rubbing alcohol is cheap and easy to get hold of and is another great multi-tasker. If you want to use it to clean leather sandals or shoes then I would suggest you mix it with water.
Fill a spray bottle with half water and half rubbing alcohol and give it a good shake. Spritz the product on your sandals and then let them dry. The smell should have gone by the time the moisture has evaporated.
How to Remove Odor From Leather Sandals with a Dryer Sheet
The next solution for learning how to clean smelly leather sandals definitely works to help remove bad smells but a word of caution choose your dryer sheet carefully.
I sometimes put my sandals into a ziplock bag and then stick a dryer sheet into the bag and close it. If you leave the dryer sheet in the bag overnight you should have nice smelling sandals the following day.
However, I find some dryer sheets incredibly pungent and overpowering so only choose one that has a nice scent or otherwise one bad smell is going to be replaced by something equally overpowering.
Stop Leather Sandals Stink With Activated Charcoal
I have to confess I haven’t tried the following method but if you do have some activated charcoal in your home it can be really useful at helping stop smelly leather sandals.
The method works exactly the same as the dryer sheet. Place your sandals in a ziplock plastic bag and place some activated charcoal in the bag as well. Let the charcoal sit overnight in the bag.
In the morning remove your sandals and you should find that the activated charcoal has absorbed any bad smells from your leather sandals.
Using a Freezer to Stop Smelly Leather Sandals
A super cheap and effective way of getting rid of smells from sandals and shoes is by using a freezer.
As the temperature from a freezer is very low it kills the odor-causing bacteria that thrive on your footwear.
Once again this is where a plastic bag comes in useful. Place your leather sandals in the bag and place them in the freezer overnight. The cold temperatures should kill the bacteria that are causing the smell which stops the bad odor.
How to Get the Smell Out of Leather Sandals With a Hairdryer
Whilst cold kills bacteria so does heat which is where a hairdryer can become useful.
I sometimes blast my hairdryer onto my sandals to kill the bacteria that can cause nasty odors. Just make sure that you use the hairdryer on a lower heat.
Remember doing this regularly has the potential to dry the leather of your sandals and shoes so you may need to use a leather conditioner to keep them supple.
Does Tea Tree Oil Help With Smelly Shoes?
Tea tree oil is another great household product that can help to remove smells from your shoes and sandals. You can either dilute it with water and spritz it on your shoes or spray it onto tissue paper to get rid of bad smells.
If you are going to spray it onto your shoes the standard ratio you need to use is one part tea tree oil to two parts water. Spray your shoes with the product and then let them air dry to remove unwanted smells.
Alternatively, put tea tree oil on tissue paper and then stuff that inside your sandals. This method can work well at getting rid of odors and keeping your footwear smelling fresh.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Smells
Another cleaning solution and deodorizer is hydrogen peroxide. When this is mixed together with cold water it can help to get rid of those bad smells.
Just mix a ration of half water with half hydrogen peroxide and use a soft cloth to apply the solution to the sandals. Rub the sandals gently with the liquid and then allow them to completely dry.
The sandals should smell considerably better when you have finished.
Protecting Your Footwear To Minimize Odors
Learning how to clean smelly leather sandals isn’t difficult but it does require a little effort on your part.
An easier solution is to think about applying a leather protectant spray onto your sandals in the future as a way of preventing smells from building up in the future.
These sprays are great at repelling water and dirt which means that there is less chance of odor-causing bacteria making a home in your sandals. Spray any new sandals that you buy with the product and top up the product regularly to continue the protection.