How to Clean Leather Sandals That Stink

Foot odor is a part of life, but in the sweaty summertime even open-toed sandals can start to gather offensive smells that stop you in your tracks. Deal with stinky leather footwear early and often so you don’t need to think twice before kicking off your shoes to get comfy. The right cleaning method depends on the leather. Generally, you’ll want to avoid using soap and water—it only cleans the surface, and that’s not where odor-causing bacteria lingers. Bleach kills everything but can also damage leather. Baking soda is the best option for dealing with lingering odors, and vinegar tends to be the safest option for suede.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking soda

  • Damp cloth

Step 1

Sprinkle baking soda liberally inside the sandal and let it sit for a day. On finished leather, use a thick paste of baking soda and water and rub it on the surface. Let it sit for at least an hour before wiping it off with a damp cloth.

Step 2

Use a cloth soaked in a mixture of ¼ cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. After either application let the leather air-dry completely.

Step 3

To keep smells from reemerging, store your sandals with crumpled newspaper in the toe area. Doing this immediately after wearing them will wick moisture out of the leather. Recycle the newspaper after each use.

Tip

Applying foot powder every time you put on your sandals is a good idea for anyone with ongoing odor issues. Air-dry the sandals in the sun. UV rays can be depended on to kill the bacteria that cause foul-smelling footwear. Sticking your sandals in the freezer over night will have the same effect.

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