All you need to know on how to clean Chacos

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Do you have smelly chacos? Have you tried to wash them only to have the smell still there? Are you having to leave them outside when you get off the river? If so, this is the article for you! We are going to cover how to clean chacos!

How to clean Chacos

Why wear Chaco sandals?

Regarding footwear for outdoor activities, few options are as versatile and comfortable as Chacos. Whether hiking, camping, or just enjoying a day in the great outdoors, Chacos are an excellent choice for several reasons. There are a lot of Chaco products, but I will focus this solely–no pun intended–on their sandals.

First and foremost, Chacos are incredibly durable and designed to withstand even the most challenging conditions. Made from high-quality materials such as Vibram rubber and polyester webbing, Chacos are built to last and handle everything from rocky terrain to water crossings.

In addition to their durability, Chacos are also incredibly comfortable. With a footbed that molds to your individual foot shape, Chacos provides excellent support and cushioning, ensuring your feet stay happy and pain-free even after hours of activity.

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How not to wash your Chacos

Chaco sandals are very durable but a couple things that will hurt your Chacos is putting them in the dish washer or laundry dryer and using bleach. The dish washer or dryer can cause the adhesive in the outsoles to break down.

The bleach can start to corrode the straps and Chacos don’t work so well without wearing those! So let’s move on to how to clean Chacos!

Step #1: Put them in the washing machine

Start by simply tossing them in with a load of laundry on a gentle cycle using mild detergent or baking soda with cold water. It’s an easy and effective way to remove dirt and get them to look good as new. Plus, I love not having to worry about any damage or shrinkage from using harsh cleaners, soap or hot water.

Make sure that you let them air dry, which shouldn’t take too long. If you don’t wear your Chacos often this step will probably suffice in getting your sandals clean. However, if you are like me, and wear them nearly every day, you will need to do a bit more.

These NRS Chaco Z/1s I like to keep in the vault!!!

Step #2: Scrub the footbed

A natural and efficient cleaning method for cleaning my sandals involves a mixture of baking soda and water. To ensure a thorough cleaning, I used a firm-bristled brush, or an old toothbrush, to scrub the soles and sides of the Chacos.

The results were remarkable; my sandals now appear as good as new. This trick has allowed me to confidently wear my sandals throughout the whitewater guiding season without looking worse!

Step #3: Floss your Chaco Sandals

If you’re struggling with smelly Chacos that still have an unpleasant odor even after washing, try flossing them. Dirt can get stuck where the shoe’s webbing and straps thread through the midsole, causing odor and making the adjustable straps stick.

To fix this, rinse and squirt liquid fabric softener into the strap slots and pull the straps in and out to remove the grit. Make sure the straps are thoroughly wet first and be patient. Flossing the straps also keeps sand and grit trapped in the footbed from damaging the straps. If you keep your shoes generally clean, you only need to do this periodically.

I also will use a mixture of baking soda and warm water instead of fabric softener. This works pretty well to clean your chacos, and you can also use the mixture to scrub the footbed.

The final clean up!

Chaco makes the best sandals in my opinion. They are durable, can be used on the water, hiking, or walking around town, and easy to take care of. Often times I will simply strap my Chacos on in the shower and that can work in a pinch. Yet, because I use them for months at a time, I usually have to do a deep clean using these steps every couple of months.

So don’t fret with stinky Chacos! Now you know how to clean chaco sandals!


What about leather sandals?

I found that washing my leather chacos by hand with a damp cloth and gently blotting the areas that required cleaning worked well. Afterward, I let them sit and air dry, avoiding any heat source that could cause the leather to become brittle or crack. You might consider using a specialized leather cleaner or leather conditioner, which can be very helpful.

What about Chacos Rechaco program?

If you’re ever in a situation where your Chaco sandals are beyond repair, there’s a great program called ReChaco that you might want to check out. This program is all about repairing sandals instead of buying new ones, which can help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and minimize our impact on the planet. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a more sustainable approach to footwear instead of buying a new pair.

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