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How to clean toe prints & dirt from sandals

Updated February 21, 2017

Sandals, a comfortable and cool form of footwear, come in a myriad of styles such as corks, gladiators and flip-flops. Each of these styles allows your feet to be exposed but also causes your sandals to get quite dirty. Sweaty feet will make sandals even dirtier. At some point, most sandals end up with dirty foot bases that have unsightly toe prints. There are simple ways you can clean your sandals. Leather sandals and sandals that have embellishments glued on need specialised cleaning and care.

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  1. Fill the washing tub with warm water and let the sandals soak in the warm water for a while. This will allow all the dirt particles to loosen up a bit. Soak for around 15 minutes.

  2. Rub the laces together if there are any on the sandals. This will bring out the dirt that accumulates on the laces.

  3. Use the soft brush and scrub the foot base gently. This will bring out all the dirt caked up around the toe bed, the foothold and the heels.

  4. Mix in a penny-size amount of mild shampoo or hand sanitiser in the tub of water. These products are mild and will not destroy the material of your sandals.

  5. Soak the sandals in this solution for another 10 minutes. Take them out and rinse them in clean water.

  6. Air-dry your sandals.

  7. Place a dime-sized amount of soap on the washcloth and dampen it a bit with water. Work up as much lather as possible. For untreated leather, use saddle soap.

  8. Rub the lather all over the sandal while simultaneously rubbing it in. Be careful around embellishments and glued-on decorations.

  9. Use a towel to rub and pat the sandal dry. Alternatively, you could use a hair dryer.

  10. Use a cloth dampened with a teaspoon of vinegar mixed in a cup of warm water all over the sandals. This will kill any smell that emanates from leather sandals. Dry leather sandals in the sun. If you cannot dry them in the sun, dry them with a hair dryer. Dry embellished sandals in front of a fan or with a hair dryer. Quickly drying the sandals is essential to avoid odours.

  11. Rub in a bit of leather preservative to protect untreated leather sandals.

  12. Tip

    Store your sandals with a sock of baking soda. This helps keep them clean. Use a damp cloth or towel to clean your sandals as soon as you come in from a dirty day out. This will help prevent the accumulation of dirt and formation of toe marks. Prevent sandals from getting dirty by rinsing and drying off your feet before you put on your sandals


    Check with your shoemaker for expensive sandals that are custom-made. There are certain cleaning products for these kinds of sandals. Anything else could prove destructive. Never soak leather sandals in warm water. This will destroy them. Always carry out a patch test on your sandals at the back. This will ensure that the leather does not react to the soap used.

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Things You'll Need

  • Washing tub
  • Warm water
  • Soft brush
  • Mild shampoo
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Saddle soap
  • Moisturising soap
  • Washcloth
  • Clean cloth
  • Nonalcoholic wipes
  • Leather conditioner
  • Leather preservative
  • Towel

About the Author

Norah Faith was born and raised in Texas and from there she has traveled nationally and internationally. After acquiring her teaching license from New Mexico State University, she found herself teaching ESL around the world. She continues to teach today and finds satisfaction writing for Demand Studios and other sites.

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