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Nikwax Sandal Wash Review

The sponge applicator on the Nikwax Sandal Wash bottle makes it easy to dispense and regulate the amount of cleaner applied to the sandal.
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Price:  $9 List | $8.50 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy to use, works very well.
Cons:  Not a very versatile product, rather expensive for a not entirely necessary product.
Manufacturer:   Nikwax
By McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2012
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Our Analysis

Have you ever had that nasty Chaco sandal funk? Good news! There is an easy way to get rid of it!
Gear Care Test: Nikwax Sandal Wash and NikWax Footwear Cleaning Gel
Gear Care Test: Nikwax Sandal Wash and NikWax Footwear Cleaning Gel

Usually we would think that you could clean your sandals by spraying them with a hose or running them under your bathtub faucet. That works for mud and dirt, but sometimes sandals, especially the durable rubber kinds like Chacos, get a funky smell to them that won't go away and keeps reviving every time you wear them. In the past we have solved this problem by soaking sandals in bleach water, which works, but is a more elaborate process. The Nikwax Sandal Wash takes care of this problem in a simpler and effective manner.

The how to is simple: shake, sponge on cleaner, rinse. Voila! Your funky flops now give off a lemony-fresh scent.

Getting rid of sandal stench couldn't be easier than with the easy to use and fresh-smelling Nikwax Sandal Wash.
Getting rid of sandal stench couldn't be easier than with the easy to use and fresh-smelling Nikwax Sandal Wash.

The bonus to using this cleaner is that is helps to extend the life of the sandal by eliminating bacteria that eats away at the materials and causes rot. The bottle warns that it may cause colors to run, but we tested it on a few pairs of sandals, including the webbing straps, and had no issue whatsoever with the colors.

One downside is that the sandal wash is not supposed to be used on waterproof footwear, so if you want to clean your sandals and your boots, you either need to buy two products or clean your sandals with either some other kind of soap, such as Dr. Bronner's, or Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, which can be used for both.

At $7.25 for 4.2 ounces, this is not a bad solution if you are a free-footed being, though it might seem a little costly and frivolous for the average dirtbag. Our 2.1 ounce bottle was barely dented after a thorough cleaning of two pairs, so the product goes a long way. Dr. Bronner's soap is less expensive and a vastly more versatile option, ringing in at $4.25 for four ounces, but it doesn't keep the sandal smell away for as long as the Nikwax Sandal Wash. Soaking in warm water with a capful of bleach is still much cheaper if you are on a budget, but not as easy or as fragrant. Another wallet-friendly home alternative is scrubbing the sandal soles with a paste made of baking soda and water.

Dirty sandal on top  sandal cleaned with Nikwax Sandal Wash on bottom.
Dirty sandal on top, sandal cleaned with Nikwax Sandal Wash on bottom.
Dirty sandal on bottom  cleaned with Nikwax Sandal Wash on top. Refreshing...
Dirty sandal on bottom, cleaned with Nikwax Sandal Wash on top. Refreshing...


McKenzie Long