Climate permitting, you can make the argument that a good pair of leather sandals are the only footwear you need to make it through the summer. They can handle all the casual uses of rubber slides or foam thongs but they can also dress up for more formal occasions. Fashion is definitely in a place right now where a nice pair of leather sandals work with everything from a bathing suit to a chino suit.

The catch is that added functionality comes with a little more maintenance required to keep your favorite sandals looking fresh. If you can wear sandals every day you’re probably going to and they’re going to get dirty and probably a little stinky. So we put together a helpful step-by-step list of how to clean your leather sandals because that all-purpose appeal only really works if they’re clean.

Scrub the Footbed and Sides.

The dirtiest part of your sandals will always be the footbed so that is the best place to start cleaning. Whether your footbed is made of leather or another material like cork, the cleaning process will be the same. You will need an old toothbrush, a small bowl, baking soda, dish detergent, and warm water.

This step will do most of the work toward removing any smells as well.

Step 1: Create a cleaning solution by combining 1 part baking soda and 2 parts warm water into a small bowl, then add a small squirt of dish detergent. You will probably need one tablespoon of baking soda per sandal, so two for a pair, four for two pairs, and so on.

Step 2: If the straps or upper of your sandals open then open them up for better access to the footbed. If they do not, don’t worry, it will still work.

Step 3: Using an old toothbrush, scrub the bed thoroughly. Then work your way around the outsides of the footbed. Make sure you are building up a lather and covering the entire area with baking soda.

Step 4: Give the footbed a few minutes to dry, then wipe it down with a damp towel to remove all excess baking soda.

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Cleaning the Leather Upper and Hardware

The leather upper of your sandals are the most visible part so you want to make sure the leather stays clean and in good condition. The same kind of leather cleaning product that would be used for cleaning a leather boot or shoe should be used for the leather on your sandals. There are plenty of products available but you can’t go wrong with Kiwi Saddle Soap.

Step 1: Take an old towel or rag and dampen it slightly in warm water. Then rub it in the saddle soap to create a slight lather. If you are using a liquid leather cleaner then you can apply it directly to the towel or rag.

Step 2: Rub the cleaning product onto the leather in a small, quick, circular motion. Add more cleaning product as necessary, you will be able to tell when the leather doesn’t darken as you go over it. Repeat this process until you have covered all the leather on the sandal’s upper and along the sides.

Step 3: If your sandals have metal hardware, scrub it with a clean, dry brush. An old toothbrush works perfectly.

Condition Leather Footbed (If Neccesary)

If your sandals have a leather footbed then you will want to use the same leather cleaning product that you used on the upper to condition the footbed. This will add an extra layer of protection to the footbed and keep it from cracking and creasing.

Step 1: Take an old towel or rag and dampen it slightly in warm water. Then rub it in the saddle soap to create a slight lather. If you are using a liquid leather cleaner then you can apply it directly to the towel or rag.

Step 2: Rub the cleaning product all over the footbed in a small, quick, circular motion. Apply more product as needed. Repeat until the entire footbed, including the outside edge and any stitching.

Your favorite pair of leather sandals can be your go-to footwear all summer long because they go with practically everything. However, you will need to put a little elbow grease in to keep them looking fresh. Follow this guide and your sandals will not only look better but they will last longer and smell better. You can take all the credit when your toes thank you for it.

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