My boys love sandals. And since we live in Texas, where sandal season is literally 7-8 months out of the year, they wear their sandals a LOT. Lots of sandals and lots of summer means lots of sweaty feet and lots of STINK! Last year, I really felt like the stink had gotten quite embarrassing. Any one of the boys could clear out a room just by taking off their shoes. It was awful. Something had to change, so this summer, I have been on a quest for a stinky sandal solution!
First, let me say that our sandals are pretty much exclusively Keen Newport H2’s (Amazon affiliate link). We’ve been buying them for years and handing them down. They’re easy to put on, they protect the boys’ feet, and they last through an 8 month sandal season and can still be handed down! I try not to pay full price if I can help it. I got Aidan’s current pair last fall for $18 on clearance! I don’t always do that well, but there are deals to be found if you watch for them. (There are also a lot of knock-off versions available. Not sure if any of those are worth it, so leave a comment if you’ve tried any!)
Anyway, the first few pairs of Keens that we owned did not smell as bad as the more recent pairs, so I’m not sure if they have changed their materials or what. They are machine washable, which is great. However, I have found that machine washing is not enough to keep the stink away for more than a couple of days!
So I tried an experiment. In May, I ran all of the boys’ sandals through the washing machine. While they were still damp, I sprinkled baking soda inside each shoe and then sprayed them down with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water and let that sit for several minutes. Then I rinsed the sandals and let them air dry.
IT WORKED! We made it two weeks with no smell, unless you stuck your nose right in the shoe, and even then it wasn’t bad. I ended up having to wash them again because of a very dusty hike we went on, and so I went ahead and did the baking soda/vinegar treatment again. That was 10 days ago, and still no stink! I’m not sure how long it will last – it will probably depend on each child’s sweat level. But even if I have to clean their sandals every 2-3 weeks, that is a small price to pay for fresh feet!
I don’t know if this would work for leather sandals, but I imagine that it would work for any sandals that can be washed.
Does your household struggle with stinky sandals? Please tell me we’re not the only ones!
Update: There are some helpful tips in the comments, but one comment that I especially want to point out is from Leah – she says that it’s the neoprene that stinks and not the rubber sole. This definitely seems to be true. For my toddler son’s sandals, I did not get enough vinegar and baking soda on the neoprene part, and the stink was not totally gone. I washed them better the next time, and they smell fresh!