How do I get my Chacos to stop smelling?
Listen, I get it. You love your Chacos. They’re crazy comfortable, perfect for adventures, and darn near indestructible. But woof, sometimes those puppies can get RANK!
As a long-time Chaco fanatic myself, believe me, I’ve been there. One minute, you’re kickin’ back after an awesome day hiking in your favorite sandals, and the next, you get a whiff of something funky. That’s Chaco stank for ya.
But before you toss those babies in the trash, take a deep breath (just…not of the actual sandals) and have no fear. With some strategic cleaning, care, and prevention, you can get your Chacos back to their former glory in no time. I’ll walk you through exactly how to make them fresh again and STOP THE STANK.
Getting to the Root of the Stank
First things first, how exactly does this befouling of our beloved Chacos happen? It all comes down to the unholy trinity of sweat, dirt, and dead skin cells. (Gross, I know).
As we wear our sandals, all that stuff builds up, especially in areas like the footbed grooves and crevices where the straps attach. Suddenly you have a bacterial house party going on that gets FUNKY. Even if you can’t see the dirt and gunk, it’s probably lodged in there.
So the key is regular cleaning to send those odor-causing bugs packing. I’m talking a full scrub down, people. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta dig in and extract all those smelly bits from every nook and cranny of your sandals.
Step 1: Surface Cleaning and Loosening Grime
Before you break out the soap and water for a real wash, you need to prep your Chacos to dislodge any dirt and debris that might be hanging on. Time for a quick rough and tumble!
- Knock ‘Em Together: Bang those bad boys together outside or over a trash can to jar loose small bits of caked-on gunk.
- Brush Away the Crud: Grab an old toothbrush, soft scrub brush, etc., and go to town, focusing on the footbed, grooves, and strap attachment areas where grime loves to hide.
- Pre-Wash: For extra oily areas, mix up some warm water in a bowl with a tiny bit of gentle soap. Use your brush and elbow grease to tackle set-in grease and ground-in dirt.
- Rinse: Thoroughly wash off all suds and residue under cool running water.
- Dry Time: Wipe excess moisture with a clean towel. Let your sandals completely air dry in a breezy spot before moving to deep cleaning.
Step 2: Handwash Like You Mean It
Now comes the real sweat and tears…of getting your Chacos squeaky clean, that is! For best results, I recommend good old-fashioned handwashing and scrubbing. The extra manual effort helps lift stains and banish odor.
- In a basin or large bucket, make a warm water and mild soap solution, just bubbly enough to use for washing.
- Remove the footbed, insoles, and adjustable straps if possible.
- Swish your sandels in the soapy mix, rubbing any stinky spots with a soft brush or rag.
- Rinse every inch under running water until zero suds remain.
- Dry thoroughly in an open, breezy area – not direct sun or heat.
Ah, I can smell the freshness already! But we’re not done yet…
Step 3: Machine Wash as Needed
Handwashing should do the trick to remove most smells, oils, and dirt. But if your Chacos need some extra cleaning juice, go ahead and throw them in the washing machine.
- Prep Work: Take out the footbed, straps, laces or any parts that can be removed. Pop the sandals in a mesh bag to protect the wash drum from thwacking.
- Settings: Use the gentle/delicate cycle, cold water, and a gentle detergent without bleach or fabric softener.
- Drying: Always air dry your Chacos after washing. Never put them in the dryer!
The machine washing provides an extra thorough scrub down for your stinkiest sandals. But make it an occasional treat, not a regular habit, to preserve the integrity of your Chacos.
Step 4: Bust Out the Big Guns – Deodorizers
If your feet tend to run extra sweaty, you may need to bring in the specialist odor annihilators from time to time. Here are my top 3 to kick butt on Chaco smells:
- Baking Soda: This handy powder is a master at soaking up moisture and neutralizing smells. Sprinkle liberally over your footbed and straps. Let sit overnight before brushing off.
- White Vinegar: The acid in vinegar destroys odor-causing bacteria and mildew spores. Mix a solution of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water. Wipe down all surfaces.
- Tea Tree Oil: With its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial superpowers, this essential oil makes a fantastic natural sanitizer for your Chacos when diluted in water.
Bust out these cleaning MVPs anytime things get extra smelly between washes.
Special Care for Leather Chacos
Fancy pants with the leather Chacos? (Niiiice). Then listen up! That premium leather requires some TLC to look fresh and stave off odors.
Avoid fully submerging leather Chacos. Instead, spot clean gently with a damp rag and specialized leather cleaner. Allow them to fully air dry away from direct sun or heat.
Every few weeks, apply a high-quality leather conditioner to protect and waterproof. This keeps the leather supple and also prevents sweat and dirt from sinking in.
Preventing Chaco Stank in the First Place
Consistency is key when trying to prevent your Chacos from ever getting too stinky in the first place. Here’s the inside scoop on keeping odor at bay for the long haul.
- Dry Properly: Never wear your Chacos multiple days in a row without allowing to dry overnight. Rotate pairs if you wear them daily.
- Clean Regularly: Every 2 weeks, give your sandals a wash and scrub with mild soap. Deodorize monthly or as needed.
- Hygiene Helps: Washing your feet and wearing clean, breathable socks can stop excess sweat transfer that bacteria feeds on.
An ounce of prevention equals no pound of stank!
Storing Chacos to Minimize Smells
How and where you store your Chacos between adventures can also impact leftover odors. Consider these tips:
- Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct light or moisture.
- Place a commercial shoe deodorizer inside each sandal when storing long-term.
- Cedar shoe tree inserts or silica gel packs also work to absorb moisture and scents actively.
With smart storage, your Chacos will spring out fresh and ready for fun when you next slip them on!
When All Else Fails…
If you’ve tried every trick and tip but your Chacos still smell funkier than a heaping block of blue cheese, it may be time to call in the professionals.
Odor Eliminating Products
You can find sprays, powders, inserts, and other products made specifically to tackle tough shoe odors. Some popular options include:
- Sof Sole Deodorizers – These neutralizing powder packs can sit inside shoes to absorb moisture and smells.
- PEET Shoe Dryer – Uses gentle heat and airflow to fully dry shoes and prevent bacterial growth.
- Foot Sense – The antibacterial spray acts like a breath freshener for stinky feet and shoes.
While pricier than homemade mixtures, these commercial deodorizers pack some serious stank-busting power. Follow individual instructions to hit the smells from every angle.
Professional Cleaning Services
For the truly nasty cases of Chaco funk, consider taking them to a local shoe repair pro. These magicians have industrial-strength cleaners, monster suction equipment, and other heavy-duty tools to scour and disinfect whatever mysterious stench lurks in your sandals.
In as little as 24 hours, your Chacos come out looking and smelling brand new! It may cost you a decent chunk of change, but it can be worth it to save a beloved pair of sandals from the landfill (and your nostrils from further assault).
Parting Thoughts on Keeping Chacos Fresh
Well, there you have it – my complete guide to giving your Chacos that just-out-of-the-box smell again. With some periodic TLC, you should be stomping around in comfortable, odor-free sandals for seasons to come!
Remember, immediate cleaning after heavy use, frequent scrub downs, alternating pairs, and proper storage are key to stopping stank before it starts. And if things ever get out of hand, bust out the big guns to nuke those nasty odors from orbit.
Now get out there and give your revived Chacos a test drive! Just maybe steer clear of any messy adventures until they build their reputation back up.