Maybe you wear sandals that go with that trending couture mini backpack while shopping on the Champs-Élysées. Perhaps you wear a rad beach pair to watch your favorite surfers in a top-ten U.S. surf competition, like the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California.
Either way, sandal wearers from couture to high surf style want their leather footwear clean and in great shape. But what’s the trick, you ask?
We’ve put together a quick guide on how to clean leather sandals just for you. You will learn how to clean leather insoles of sandals, clean sandal straps, and keep your leather sandals looking new.
After you’re finished, you can grab your sandals and give them a quick once-over to see if you can make them look even better.
Prep Your Sandals for Long-Term Gorgeousness
You just got a pair of fab leather sandals and you want them to look this amazing always. To start, check out the maker instructions that came with your footwear and look at the company website for the best cleaning and maintenance instructions.
Look for protective sprays or conditioners to keep them in top form and other care tips, like these Flojos tips, for example.
In general, try to keep your leather sandals dry and clean regularly. If they get wet, make sure to let them air dry before wearing them again.
Cleaning Leather Sandals
Before you start cleaning the outside leather of your sandals with any kind of liquid cleaner or softeners, like vinegar, saddle soap, or other leather-specific cleaner or conditioner, you want to give your sandals a quick dirt scrub.
Do the Dirt Scrub
First, grab a brush with soft bristles and get to work brushing your sandals.
Brush the outside, the straps, and the buckles. Get that brush on the insoles, sides of the soles, and bottom of the shoes as well. This is effective if you’ve been walking in the sand or dirt.
Next, take a soft dry cloth and rub/polish the leather to get any excess dirt or spots you might see.
Clean With Gentle Liquid Cleaner
There are various options for cleaning leather once you’ve done the initial dirt brush and wipe, including two favorites: saddle soap and vinegar mixed with water.
Let’s start by focusing on the outside and then move onto the insoles and getting rid of stinky feet smells, too.
Saddle soap will not only clean, but they will also condition and help with those odors.
To clean your leather sandals with saddle soap, dampen a clean cloth and add the saddle soap after the dirt scrub. Gently rub it onto the leather.
Let it sit, and finally, buff it off and let it dry.
Always wipe off the cleaner and/or conditioner and let your newly cleaned leather sandals dry before wearing.
Vinegar and Water Mix
This is our simple, but effective, favorite. It is a tried and true method!
After you do the initial brush and rub, mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water. The vinegar is a gentle cleaner that won’t ruin your beautiful leather.
Dip a clean damp cloth or sponge in the mixture.
Wipe down and clean the outside of your leather sandals. Then, wipe with a dry cloth and let them air dry.
Once dry, you can use a leather conditioner on any tough spots that still look a bit dirty. You can also use it overall to condition. Simply put several drops of conditioner on a dry cloth and gently apply in a circular motion.
Again, wipe the conditioner off with a dry cloth and let them air dry when done.
Clean Treated Leather Only With Vinegar and Water Mix
If you have treated leather sandals, stick with the vinegar and water clean and wipe them down only. Don’t use saddle soap or other leather cleaning products. Also, remember that you don’t need any conditioner.
To see if the leather is treated, drip a few drops of clean water onto the outside leather. Watch to see if it beads up into little water balls on top of the leather or if it soaks into the leather.
The leather is treated if you get water balls. If the water absorbs into the leather, it’s not treated.
Cleaning Suede Leather Sandals
Ideally, you should treat suede when you first get it with a water-repellent protective spray. Water will stain the suede.
To clean suede, avoid water because it can easily ruin the shoes. You can use suede cleaner or sandpaper with rubbing alcohol.
To use the sandpaper, you will dab rubbing alcohol on any stains with a clean cloth or cotton ball. Then, buff with the fine sandpaper to get off the dirt.
Getting Rid of Leather Sandal Insole Smell
You love your sandals. You wear them all the time. And your feet sweat sometimes, or all the time, while you wear them.
We know. It happens to the best of us.
Luckily, we have some fab tricks to get your favorite sandals smelling fabulous.
Grab one of the giant zip-seal plastic bags. Put your sandals in them. Add baking soda, seal, shake, and leave overnight.
The baking soda absorbs the smells just like it does when you put in the fridge.
Sprinkle some of this sweet-smelling wonder on your footbeds.
It’ll soak up the odor like the baking soda and give your insoles that nice scent.
Add a few drops of tea tree, cedarwood, or sandalwood essential oil to a spray bottle of water. Spray onto your insoles.
The essential oils have antibacterial qualities. This will help prevent foot odor and get rid of any smells that are already there.
You know those softeners you throw in the dryer?
Throw one in a zip-seal bag with your leather sandals and leave them in there overnight. That should do it!
Now You Know How to Clean Leather Sandals
Now that you know how to clean leather sandals and keep them lookin’ fresh, you’re ready to put them to use.
Remember to check on your leather sandals from time to time and give them the care they need.
Take a look at our travel blog for some great posts on fabulous destinations. You may find your next holiday spot to wear those gorgeous sandals!