How to remove smell from sandals

Sandals are an appropriate type of footwear during warmer months of the year as they’re thin, lightweight and allow air to reach your toes and feet to keep you cool. They’re also timeless, practical and often decorated in a neutral way that makes them a suitable item of clothing for both men and women. However, as they typically interact directly with feet and are often worn in hot, sunny weather, they can pick up an unpleasant odour. But it’s important to remember that even the harshest of smells can be eliminated and it isn’t necessarily a sign that your sandals are past their best.  

In this blog, we explain the general causes of smelly feet in sandals before offering effective tips on preventing sandals from smelling and cleaning them correctly if they already possess a nasty odour.

What causes smelly feet in sandals?

It’s perfectly common to experience a smelly odour from your feet or sandals. Also known as bromodosis, smelly feet is a side effect of the feet beginning to sweat and producing bacteria. The bacteria then attaches to the shoes you’re wearing, leaving an unpleasant smell.   

Although this may be less likely to become a problem with casual or formal shoes if you’re wearing socks, the smell can be predominant in wearing sandals without socks as, without socks, sweat can move directly from the feet to the inside of the sandals. Not only that, but as sandals are typically worn during the summer and in warmer climates, it’s more likely that you will be hot, causing your feet to sweat.   

Each foot has an estimated 250,000 sweat glands and produces around 500 milliliters of sweat every day. The amount of sweat will vary depending on the temperature, but it’s likely to be significantly higher during warm days. Other factors that could increase the likelihood of having sweaty feet in sandals include if your sandals are too tight, if you’re on your feet all day, if you’re feeling particularly stressed, anxious or worried or if you have a condition or are on medication that can cause excessive sweating.

an older man wearing leather sandals.

How to stop my sandals from smelling

If your sandals smell, you should find an effective way to remove the nasty odour. However, the method of cleaning sandals will differ based on the material. Below, we’ve highlighted some examples of sandal materials with appropriate odour removal techniques:   

Foam sandals - Set your washing machine to a cold, delicate setting and wash your sandals in the washing machine with a small amount of detergent and one cup of white vinegar.   

Leather sandals - Assuming your sandals are clean but simply carry an unpleasant smell, place them in a bag, pour in a sprinkle of baking soda, seal the bag and leave it overnight. The following day, remove the sandals from the bag and use a dry cloth to remove any excess baking soda.   

Rubber sandals - Wash them in the washing machine by themselves on the coldest setting with a small amount of detergent.   

Wood sandals - Providing your sandals smell but don’t require a thorough clean, mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide together and scrub the entirety of each sandal using a toothbrush.   

Additionally, there are factors that you could consider to prevent your sandals from smelling. For example, as sweat is what causes the smell, try to dry your feet if you notice them sweating excessively, and check that your feet are thoroughly cleaned to avoid bacteria building on your sandals. You should also refrain from wearing your sandals all day, give them time to air out, clean them frequently and use a foot deodorant and odour removal smell as soon as you begin to experience a nasty smell.

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