How to Clean Leather Sandals: An All-Inclusive Guide

Some days back, my niece sought advice on how to clean leather sandals from me; apparently, the little one is learning to take up some responsibilities! Her school sandals are regularly cleaned, and she would love to be involved in this maintenance routine.

Leather sandals are a must-have accessory for most fashion enthusiasts. Besides their stylish appearance, I find leather sandals perfect when my feet need to breathe, and I love how they fit snugly on my niece’s feet. But cleaning leather sandals can be quite tasking – besides getting dust and grime out of tough spots, dealing with some challenging stains is often very difficult.

Are you unsure of how to clean sandals’ footbeds and insoles? I will reveal a comprehensive step-by-step guide for cleaning leather shoes and sandals. The tips in this guide work perfectly for different leather types.

how to clean leather sandals at home

How to Clean Leather Sandals: Step-By-Step

Cleaning leather sandals goes beyond merely getting rid of dirt. Whether you are wondering how to clean synthetic sandals or genuine leather shoes, here’s a cleaning routine that will get your footwear sparkling and keep them in excellent condition.

Supplies Needed

  • Soft microfiber cloths
  • A soft-bristled brush
  • Cleaning Mixture
  • Sizeable bowls
  • Some clean water
  • A suitable leather conditioner
  • Leather polish

Steps to Follow

Step 1: Remove dirt and debris

Start by getting rid of dirt and dust particles on the surface of the leather sandals. Use a dry, soft cloth to wipe over the straps, leather upper, and footbed.

Be sure to pay attention to caked debris and greasy particles stuck on the footbed – also, take out the insoles if possible. Use a soft brush to get any debris trapped between the leather and the soles of the sandals.

Step 2: Prepare a cleaning solution

You can make a mild cleaning mix using most household products for cleaning leather. Add mild soap into the water bowl and stir the mixture to make it soapy. It is imperative to void preparing a cleaning mix with harsh cleaning products. These chemicals could permanently discolor your leather sandals or damage the material.

Step 3: Test the cleaning solution

Dip a soft cloth into the prepared cleaning mix and gently rub it over a hidden spot on the leather sandal. Leave the mixture to sit and work on the grime for a few minutes and observe for any discoloration.

This step is essential when using cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda that could lighten leather with dark hues. You could test the solution on the leather near the buckle. If the cleaning solution is too harsh, add more water to the mix before you continue, or use an alternative cleaning solution.

Step 4: Clean the sandals

Use a soft, clean microfiber cloth to apply the cleaning mix over the surface of the sandals. Ensure that the cleaning cloth is only damp and not soaking wet. Scrub the leather using gentle circular motions while looking for tough spots on the material’s surface. You could also employ a soft brush to work on very stubborn stains.

Also, clean the leather insoles of the sandals during this stage – here’s how to clean leather insoles: Take some baking soda using the wet cleaning cloth and scrub the surface of the insoles. This supply will easily cut through the greasy stains on the insole. Since baking soda is excellent for eliminating harmful bacteria that cause foot odor, it would help deodorize the footwear.

Step 5: Rinse the sandals

The next step is cleaning the sandals with a clean cloth damped with water. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into ordinary water, squeeze the excess moisture, and wipe off the soap suds and other cleaning agents from the surface of the leather sandals.

Step 6: Dry the Leather Sandals

Use a dry cloth to mop up excess moisture from the leather fabric. Do not squeeze the leather during this stage – it will only wrinkle the surface texture of the fabric. Gently dab the cloth over the leather sandals and apply gentle pressure while moving it across the surface of the footwear.

Next, leave the sandals to dry; you could place the sandals outdoors in a shaded space. You could also leave them indoors and dry them with a fan. However, you must avoid drying leather sandals under direct sunlight or with hand-held dryers. Direct UV radiation will bleach the fabric; extreme heat could also shrink the leather and make it brittle.

Step 7: Condition the leather

Finally, condition the leather sandals. You can use mink oil or leather conditioners sold at various retail stores near you. If you use a professional leather conditioning product, study the product label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using any leather conditioner.

Employ a soft cloth to apply the conditioner onto the leather in soft, circular motions. Apply the conditioner generously and leave it to dry. Finally, buff the surface of the sandals afterward to give them a shiny, attractive finish.

If you are wondering how to seal leather sandals, leather conditioners will do the trick. Leather conditioners will seal up the pores on the surface of leather fabrics and protect them from moisture penetration.

how to clean black leather sandals

Importance of Cleaning Leather Sandals Regularly

Cleaning your leather sandals regularly is critical to keeping them in excellent shape. And here’s why you should have your leather sandals regularly.

Improved Appearance: The dirt and dust particles that accumulate on the material’s surface will make leather sandals look dull and unappealing. Without care, you could even be forced to discard your favorite pair since it may no longer look attractive. Cleaning your leather sandals often will eliminate these particles and improve the outfit’s appearance.

Increased Resale Value: Cleaning your leather sandals regularly is vital to maintaining their aesthetic appeal. This way, you can fetch a better price for the leather sandals if you ever wish to sell them later.

Prevents Discoloration: The leather fabric could become permanently discolored due to oil, grime, and paint stains. These liquid substances become trapped within the fibers of the leather fabric and leave apparent marks on the surface of the leather sandals.

Regularly cleaning with the right supplies that help remove grease and oil stains from leather will remove such marks and prevent them from permanently discoloring the footwear.

Increased Comfort: A combination of sweat and dirt often results in the buildup inside your leather sandals. This dirt is usually found on the insoles of leather sandals and under the leather upper.

Most of them could irritate and hurt your feet or cause you to smell when you wear leather sandals. Cleaning leather sandals will eliminate these particles and make the sandals more comfortable.

Prevents Odor Buildup: Regular cleaning of leather sandals will prevent the buildup of pungent odors. Most of the oils and sweat from your feet are transferred to leather sandals when you wear them for extended periods. These substances create the perfect conditions for the growth of bacteria and other odor-causing agents.

Cleaning your leather sandals will eliminate these organisms and ensures that your sandals always smell fresh. It would help clean your sandals more often in hot and humid weather conditions.

Increased Lifespan: The fiber structure and pores on the surface of leather fabrics enable the material to adjust its natural composition in response to weather conditions and other factors. Cleaning leather sandals regularly will prevent the pores on the surface of the leather from being blocked, ensuring that the footwear carries out its self-regulating functions more effectively.

Protection against Mold and Mildew: Unchecked exposure to heat and moisture will make your leather sandals a perfect spot for the growth of mold and mildew. Proper cleaning and storage of leather sandals will prevent these organisms’ growth and preserve the footwear’s appearance. Furthermore, regular cleaning will also keep your feet away from disease-causing organisms.

how to clean leather sandals

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Leather Sandals Regularly?

Failing to clean your leather sandals regularly poses lots of problems. The most significant risks include:

Deterioration: When you leave your leather sandals to accumulate dust and grime, these particles weaken the fabric and make it prone to tear and wear. Additionally, leaving excess dirt particles to cake along the edges of leather sandals could cause the stitching to tear due to friction.

Leaving oil and grease stains to set in the fabric of leather sandals will also weaken the natural preservatives in the leather. This action will reduce the leather’s natural resistance to weather elements.

Reduced Aesthetic Appeal: Dirty leather sandals are an eyesore. They will quickly ruin the look of even your best outfits. When dust and grime become locked between the yarns of the leather fabric, it starts to look dull and unattractive. Also, oil and paint stains might be impossible to remove if you leave them to dry. These stains will leave your leather sandals with permanent markings.

Growth of Mold and Mildew: Wet leather sandals are great for the growth of mold and mildew. Without regular cleaning, these organisms will permanently discolor the leather fabric. Even worse, your feet could become infected and start to smell terrible.

Interference with Preservatives: Dust and grime block the pores on the surface of leather fabrics. These particles prevent the leather from absorbing leather conditioners, polish and other preservatives that increase the durability of leather sandals. Besides reducing the footwear’s durability, failing to clean leather sandals regularly will make you use more leather sandals conditioners and polish than necessary.

Increased Discomfort: Excess moisture could cause the leather to become brittle and even crack. Therefore, failing to clean leather sandals regularly will make them uncomfortable for your feet. Brittle leather straps and sandal uppers will bruise your feet and cause more severe injury. Also, accumulated dirt on your leather sandals’ insoles will cause your feet severe irritation.

Development of Odor: Leaving the oils and sweat from your feet to dry in your leather sandals will cause them to smell terrible. These substances provide ample nutrients for developing harmful bacteria in leather sandals.

Failing to clean your leather sandals regularly could also cause your feet to develop pungent smells.

How to Clean Leather Sandals YouTube

Can I Wash My Leather Sandals?

It is not uncommon for some footwear made from polyester, cotton, nylon, and canvas to be machine washable. So, you might be wondering, “Can I wash leather sandals in the washing machine?”

Submerging your leather sandals in water or tossing them into a washing machine is inadvisable. Besides washing machines’ tumbling and spinning motion, the dryers also pose severe risks to leather sandals. So, cleaning leather footwear using proper techniques is essential to avoid wrinkling, cracking, discoloration, shrinking, and total deterioration.

Final Words

Besides improving their appearance, cleaning leather sandals regularly also increases their durability. However, these are helpful tips you should never forget when you clean leather shoes and sandals: Use only soft cloths and mild cleaning solutions when cleaning leather sandals.

Harsh cleaning chemicals could cause the leather fabric to discolor and disintegrate quickly. It is best to clean any stains on your leather sandals as soon as you notice them. Also, it would help if you left leather sandals to dry naturally (in a well-ventilated space) after you clean them. This piece on how to clean leather sandals should help you get better at this maintenance routine.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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