How to Prevent Smelly Sandals

Colorful beach sandals

What’s better than sunshine and salty beach days? Slipping into your favorite pair of beach sandals and comfortably sauntering wherever the day takes you. And what’s worse than finding sand in all the places sand should never be? The lingering odors rising from your flip flops that only seem to get worse as the days get hotter.

Nothing puts a damper on summer fun quite like stinky sandals. No, it’s not a “you problem,” and you’re definitely not the only one that’s experienced this. And yes, at one time or another, we’ve all had to bid farewell to our favorite footwear as a result. 

Odors are a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them as status quo. 

With a few simple techniques, you can keep your flip-flops fresh for plenty of summer fun to come. We’ll walk you through how to get smells out of sandals, plus how to prevent it before it even starts. 

Stink Happens: Finding the Culprit 

Before you start feeling awkward about the scents emanating from your beach bag, remember that odor is natural. In fact, it would be a lot weirder if you’ve never had smelly feet before.

Especially in the summer months when our feet come into contact with sand, water, dirt, grass, oceanside public showers just teeming with bacteria, and of course, our own natural sweat, there are plenty of reasons why you have a smelly shoe. The first step in managing the situation is identifying the source of the problem. 

Here are a few of the possible odor-causing culprits:

You’re not drying your feet

Whether you’ve been staying cool by the lake, ocean, pool, or backyard sprinkler, water is an inevitable part of most people’s heat-beating routine. Do as many cannonball jumps as you’d like, but take the time to dry off every part of your body afterward, including your feet. 

Soggy, water-logged toes are often the most common―and most preventable―cause of sandal odor. Pack a small towel in your beach tote and dry off all the droplets you can before sliding back into your walking sandals

You’re not minding the material 

Fun fact: Your feet produce about half a pint of sweat every day.1 As we said, it would be unnatural not to carry odors, given all the sweat that accumulates on your favorite pair of flip flops. 

If you know that you’re extra prone to sweat, your footwear’s material makeup could make things worse. Check the product specs to uncover the kind of fibers that were used. If they’re synthetic (faux leather, foam, rubber), that may be exacerbating your problem.

Your hormones are doing what hormones do 

Children aren’t the only ones running wild this summer—your hormones may be, too. A shift in bodily chemicals due to factors like stress, pregnancy, or puberty may also be the reason you have a sweaty foot and the cause of your unpleasant foot odor. 

If you’ve been toweling off your toes, wearing breathable sandals, and you still find yourself sweating up a storm, you may have your hormones to thank for your sandal smell. 

You’re not washing thoroughly enough 

Summertime is all about laying back and relaxing by the beach. But in between swimming, sandcastle-building, and sun tanning, you can’t forget about consistent hygiene habits. 

If you’re not showering every day, consider at least giving your feet a daily soak and scrub. Adding simple after-shower creams and powders to your post-cleansing routine might also go a long way.


Squash the Stink: Ways to Keep Your Footwear Fresh

Now that we’ve targeted a few possible reasons why your flip flops may be turning more noses than heads, you have a great starting point for curbing the unpleasant odors. However, your sandals might also start to small through no fault of your own.

If you’ve recently added a few new pairs of sandals to your summer closet, you’ll want to take preventative action to keep them scent-free. And if you’re breaking out your old favorites from last season, give them a quick refresh before putting them on full display at the local pier. 

Follow these tips and tricks to ensure your sandals are squeaky clean and summer-ready: 

Keep your sandals on a rotation 

If you can, stock your closet with a few staple sandals. Sporty sandals, slide-ons, and a dressier platform pair might be a good place to start. Or, if you’re a flip flop-only person starting June 21st, consider getting your favorites in a few different colors to prevent having smelly sandals. 

If you can avoid wearing the same smelly sandals every day, each pair will have more time to dry out.

pretty girl in summer clothes and sandals

Air them out 

Did you know that your sandals love the summer sun and fresh air just as much as you do? Treat yourself and your shoes to an afternoon lounge on the patio. Ultraviolet rays are naturally good at disinfecting and ousting unwanted bacteria that causes you to have a stinky sandal.2 

Just be mindful of how long your leather sandals or suede shoes are soaking up the sun. Too much sun on your sandals could have the opposite effect it does on you. While you might earn yourself a golden glow, your suede slip-ons will risk losing their color. 

Use baking soda 

Doesn’t it seem like baking soda is the cure for just about anything? Keeping your sandals fresh is another superpower it can add to its already impressive resume. 

Sprinkle some onto your sandals and let them sit overnight to help neutralize whatever odors are brewing. Another option is to make a paste with baking soda and water for a deep-cleaning scrub, as long as your footwear is made of water-safe fabrics.

Coat them in powder during the day  

Baking soda is great for when your shoes are off your feet, but what can you do while they’re on? At the beginning of the day, sprinkle a light layer of baby powder or antifungal powder on the bed of your sandals. 

Throughout the day, these absorbent substances will wick away any moisture that makes it past your other lines of defense.

Concoct your own spray 

There are loads of DIY recipes out there for smelly shoes and sandals. Pick your favorite antimicrobial essential oil (tea tree, peppermint, or eucalyptus) and blend it together with water and witch hazel. A spritz on your sandals here and there should be helpful in keeping the odors at bay. 

Replace smelly odors with pleasant ones 

As they say, an orange peel a day keeps the sandal smells away. Putting orange peels in your shoes overnight can eliminate the icky odors and imbue your shoes with a fresh, citrus scent. Another option is to dab a few drops of vanilla extract onto paper and leave it inside your shoes for 24 hours or so. 

When possible, opt for all-natural 

Remember what we said before about synthetic materials? They can harbor all kinds of gunk and may cause even more foot sweat than normal. If you’re worried about this creating some unwanted problems, consider switching to a pair of sandals made with natural materials like leather or cork. 

Look for the sandal sweet spot: a nice, breathable material that’s comfortable and provides your feet with plenty of support. 

Stop the sweat with foot deodorant 

If you’re not sure that all-natural remedies are going to cut it, consider perusing the market of foot deodorants. You can find an assortment of sprays and creams, which may be the key to stopping the sweat before it has a chance to ruin your shoes. 

Whether you prefer an antifungal cream or an essential oil-based spray, you’re bound to find one that suits your sandal-wearing sensibilities. 

Find a replacement 

If you feel like you’re all out of options, it might just be time to throw in the towel (or, in this case, the sandals). It’s always sad to say goodbye to old favorites, but now you’ll know how to take better care of your next favorite pair.

Now that you’re in the market for a fresh pair of flip flops, open-toed wedges, or sporty sandals, it’s the perfect time to start shopping.

Pretty girl in summer jumpsuit and sandals

Find Your Fragrance-Free Summer Footwear at Vionic 

If summer is a state of mind and flip flops are your year-round footwear of choice, or if you’re prepping for upcoming warm weather, sandals will be an integral part of your daily life. And if you’re a staunch supporter of flip flops in the slippers vs. sandals debate, you know you have to deal with the potential odors that come with spending your days barefoot by the beach.

There’s nothing worse than spending hours searching for the perfect pair just to send them on a fast track to the trash can by letting the odors build and build. Choose your sandals wisely, and be sure to take the proper steps to keep them clean, dry, and odor-free.

Shop Vionic for an unparalleled collection of sandals. From leather to suede and everything in between, Vionic sandals are functional and fashionable. Thanks to our special Vionic Technology, you can find the best flip flops with arch support for a happy medium that’s almost impossible to come by. 

With a clean, well-cared-for pair of sandals, the only odors you’ll pick up on will be the salty air, sweet treats, and smoky campfire. Step into summer with Vionic today! 



  1. Scott LaFee. “Shoeless Glow”. UC San Diego Health. February 24, 2017,
  2. Kimberly Holland. “Want to Kill Dangerous Bacteria?”. Healthline. Nov 28, 2018,
Leave a comment