How to Clean Chacos – 4 Easy Methods and Tips

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Chacos are perhaps one of the most popular choices of footwear among people who love outdoor adventures. It was originally designed to be worn by river guides.

Today, Chacos are used by anyone who likes to go hiking, mountain climbing, and just about anything outdoors.

People who love Chacos and have gotten used to them probably will not trade them for anything else— the comfort and fit provided by a pair of Chacos are unparalleled — but so is the odor they emit!

Chacos that have been worn too long stink to high heaven. The straps in the footwear do make it a little difficult to clean them often, however, it’s not impossible.

Whether using a DIY method or sandal wash for Chacos, it’s important to learn how to clean Chacos properly and thoroughly. Read on to find simple step-by-step methods.

How to Clean Chacos

Method 1: Traditional cleaning method

The traditional cleaning method involves some elbow grease, however, it is something that is cost-effective and gives great results.

The tools you need are mostly items that are already available in your household. Good old baking soda comes to the rescue here too, as it does with several DIY cleaning projects.

First, soak the Chacos in a tub of soapy water. You can use a chemical-free mild detergent for this.

Let the sandals sit for about thirty minutes to an hour. Pour the dirty water down the drain.

Now in a mixing bowl, combine a small amount of baking soda with some water to make a thick paste.

With a spatula or gloved hands, apply the paste on the outside sole of the sandals. Use a stiff-bristled laundry brush to scrub through the nooks and corners of the outside sole of the Chacos. This will get the dirt out.

Apply the paste again along with the footbed as well. With an old, used toothbrush, scrub the footbed gently until you see dirty water making its way out of the footwear.

Soak the sandals again in fresh soap water if required and continue to scrub until you see that you have rid the sandals of dirt and bad odor.

Air-dry the sandals and you are ready to use them again.

Method 2: Flossing

This step perhaps reminds you of your dentist, but yes, flossing is not ideal just for dental hygiene.

The Chacos company specifically advises its customers to periodically do flossing for the footwear as a maintenance routine. Read on to know more about how to clean Chacos by flossing.

It follows the same logic of flossing your teeth. You do flossing to get rid of minuscule particles stuck between the gaps of your teeth, don’t you? It’s pretty much the same deal here with the Chacos.

You try to get rid of the dirt that could have gotten under the footbed via the gaps in the strap slots.

The zigzag straps that make the footwear comfortable to wear could actually prove to be a challenge to clean. However, flossing could help you here.

First, use a small syringe and inject some fabric softener into those strap slots.

Then move the straps in and out of the slots so as to loosen the dirt, sand, and any other particles that might be stuck there.

This is called “flossing” in the context of the Chacos. You are essentially getting rid of dirt caught up in gaps. Repeat this action a few times.

Often, it’s the dirt and debris caught up there in those slots for a long time that causes the bad odor in Chacos.

So this fabric softener will help get rid of the odor and make the smell more tolerable. Make sure that the sandals are completely wet when you do this.

People floss their Chacos after every use, however, in most cases, this may not be required.

If you generally maintain these sandals well, you may have to floss them just once in a few months.

Method 3: Washing machine

You do not have to be afraid of washing machines when you are figuring out how to clean Chacos.

The company in fact recommends washing a pair of Chacos along with your laundry — thick garments such as a load of Jeans. (Note that this is not applicable for sandals with leather straps.)

Use only mild detergent, that is free of any chemicals.

Do not use bleach.

Do not put the sandals through the dryer and do not put the footwear in a dishwasher.

Basically, anything that causes the footwear to be exposed to heat could be bad for the Chacos, as the heat will cause the glue in the sandals to melt and it’s likely to come apart.

Be sure to not use hot water when washing Chacos in a washer.

So it’s good to wash a pair of Chacos in the washing machine from time to time. Make sure it’s cushioned by a load of other garments and does not involve chemicals or heat.

Once the wash cycle is done, you can take it out and air-dry the sandals, and then it’s good to be worn the next time.

The washing machine is ideal only for Chacos that do not have leather straps.

For those with leather straps, you can wash them down with a damp cloth dipped in soap solution or a baking soda solution and then air dry it well before you use it again.

Spray a mild perfume if you please, to get rid of any bad odor.

Method 4: Commercial cleaning products

If you are not too successful with the methods involving baking soda and the washing machine, you can try a few commercial cleaning products.

The company suggests Nikwax sandal wash be used in order to clean your Chacos.

This will act against the bacteria and organic material that causes the odor build-up and help you clean the sandals and make them as good as new.

Simply follow the directions on the Nikwax sandal wash packaging – a direct sponge-on applicator is included.

These are some of the effective methods on how to clean Chacos.

Try them right away and get ready for your next big adventure trip! Your feet will be grateful — and so will your friends!

FAQs on How to Clean Chacos

How do you get the smell out of Chacos?

In a mixing bowl, combine two spoons of baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply this paste on the outside sole of the Chacos and the footbed as well.

Using an old toothbrush, scrub the footwear well to get the dirt out of them. Then floss the straps by pulling them in and out of the strap slots.

This dirt build-up in the gaps is what causes most of the bad odor and flossing will help you get rid of it.

Finally, air-dry the footwear before you use it again.

Can you wash Chacos in the washing machine?

Yes, you can wash Chacos (without leather straps) in the washing machine along with your laundry.

Remember to use only a mild detergent that is devoid of chemicals. Do not use bleach. Do not put it in the dishwasher or the dryer.

Heat will cause the footwear to come apart and the glue to melt.

After the wash cycle, take the Chacos out and air-dry them well before using them again.


If you are wondering how to clean Chacos, then here are some quick and effective DIY methods.

You can use baking soda and water paste to scrub the dirt away from the footbed and outside sole of the Chacos.

You can also do “flossing” by pulling the straps in and out of the strap slots, in order to get rid of the dirt caught up in the gaps.

Alternatively, you can toss your Chacos (without leather straps) in the washing machine along with your laundry and wash them with gentle detergent, devoid of chemicals, heat, or bleach.

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