how to remove odor from leather sandals

How to Deodorize & Remove Odors From Leather Sandals

It’s not too common for leather sandals to trap odors since they are open and well-ventilated as compared to leather shoes. However, leather is a porous material and absorbs moisture from your feet with frequent use. 

This moisture gets trapped within the leather straps and leather insoles of the sandals. This could foster the growth of bacteria if odors aren’t frequently removed. 

The challenge of removing odor from leather sandals is getting rid of trapped moisture effectively. This is because leather sandals are generally well-ventilated, but this alone may not be able to extract all of the moisture and unpleasant smells. 

We’ve created this guide to help you learn some useful tips and tricks that you can use to get rid of moisture and remove odor from your leather sandals using common home remedies. 

1. Clean Your Leather Sandals

The best method of removing lingering odor from your leather sandals is to clean your leather sandals using proper methods and techniques. We’ve also created a guide on cleaning your leather sandals, which you can refer to if you would like to read a more comprehensive guide on this section.

However, we’ve summarized the main steps here with the focus of removing odor. You can choose a leather cleaning solution, saddle soap, or any natural cleaning solution that works well with leather to clean your sandals.

For leather sandals, we prefer using saddle soap as they not only clean them but also soften, deodorize and preserve them. Saddle soap typically contains wax, which adds a protective layer onto your leather and shields it from the elements. 

After brushing away the fine dust and dirt particles, you can rub a leather cleaning solution or saddle soap with a damp cloth all over your leather sandals for a clean finish – make sure to pay special attention to the leather insole, footbed and strap.

After your leather sandals have been cleaned properly, you can remove the excess cleaning solution or saddle soap using a dry, clean cloth. Once your leather sandals are fully dried, proceed to the next step. 

2. Choose an Odor-Removing Method

There are a variety of home remedies and products that you can use to get the odor out of your smelly leather sandals. While we have an extensive guide on removing odor from leather shoes using similar methods, we’ve optimized these methods for leather sandals, which you are able to find below.

Method 1: Odor Remover (deodorizer)

With various odor removers present in the market, we recommend using spray odor removers for leather sandals. Stick odor removers are more effective for leather shoes since they are enclosed. 

The benefit you get with spray odor removers is that you can target the leather strap and insole directly, as they work to remove any unpleasant smells from your leather sandals. 

Our favorite odor remover and deodorizer for leather sandals is the Kohala Sandal & Shoe Refresher since it contains various natural ingredients and has an effective deodorizing formula, making them smell fresh and clean.

This spray can get to hard-to-reach spots (seams and toe straps) and remove odorous oils, sweat and bacteria present there. It also has conditioning properties that keep your sandals supple and durable for the long run. 

You can simply spray this onto your leather sandals and put them out to dry under the sun (only for a short amount of time) or in a well-ventilated storage area. With a pleasant odor present in the solution, you will have fresh-smelling leather sandals in no time.

Method 2: Teabags

Teabags are a fantastic way of removing odors from your leather sandals. Tea contains antifungal and antibacterial properties and is excellent at absorbing moisture from its surroundings. 

Black tea is highly effective for this purpose since it contains tannin that can successfully kill bacteria inside leather sandals and remove any unwanted odor.

To begin this cost-effective odor-removing method, place 2 – 3 teabags in each leather sandal and place them in a closed shoe rack or shoe box for the next 12 to 24 hours. 

The enclosed space will allow the teabags to work their magic since leaving them in the open will not be effective for this method. Remove all tea bags after 12 – 24 hours and check for any lingering odor. 

If you still notice any bad smells, steep the tea bags and place them inside the leather sandals with a foil or sheet to repeat the process. You may also want to increase the number of tea bags if required. 

Remember to let your leather sandals ventilate for a couple of hours before you wear them. 

Method 2: Baking Soda 

Using bicarbonate soda (baking soda) to remove any odor from your leather sandals is another popular home remedy that we recommend. Baking soda can absorb moisture from the atmosphere, making it the perfect solution for moist, smelly leather sandals. 

It can absorb any odor present in leather sandals and leave a neutral smell behind. Nevertheless, we advise against using a dilute baking soda solution with water since it may damage the leather.

To begin the process, sprinkle some baking soda into the inside surface of your leather sandals and the leather straps. You can use your fingers to spread the powder evenly inside but ensure to not rub it in using too much pressure. 

After application, place your leather sandals in an enclosed shoe rack or shoe box for about 6 – 12. After that, remove them from the box and brush off the baking soda. Before using them, ensure that they are well-ventilated for a couple of hours. 

3. Ventilate Your Leather Sandals 

After using any of our recommended methods mentioned above for removing odor from your leather sandals, it is best to leave your sandals to dry in a cool and well-ventilated space. 

Bacteria thrive in moist and warm environments, which is why you should aim to keep them away from ambient moisture and perspiration. It’s also best to avoid wearing leather sandals for a few days after you have deodorized them.

With regards to storing your leather sandals, there are various locations that are optimal – just ensure that the storage area is well-ventilated. Here are some storage location ideas for your leather sandals that you can make use of: 

  • An outdoor shoe rack
  • Near the doorstep
  • Under shade in the verandah or balcony
  • Near a fan
  • Patio
  • Airy garage