Care and Cleaning Keen Sandals

Cleaning Keen Sandals is simple: just throw them in the washer or handwash them in the sink. Do not, however, put them in the dryer. They aren't made to handle those temperatures. Even their leather sandals are designed to be safely washed and then air dried.

For normal washing, just use a small amount of detergent and wash in cold water on the gentle cycle.

If your Keens have a funky smell that's a more involved issue. Normally, it should be an issue since Keen sandals are treated with an anti-microbial treatment that should keep the baddies at bay. But if the stink sets in anyway, you can move up to products specifically designed for the purpose:

Nikwax BaseWash - 10 oz.

Buy from REI

Nikwax Sandal Wash

Buy from REI

  • Nik Wax Base Wash is intended for getting the smell out of outdoor gear and might work on your shoes. Hand wash in the sink.
  • Keen recommends Greased Lightning. That's a new one on me - it's a household cleaner and degreaser. Spray and let sit for an hour.
  • Tea Tree Oil, Odor Eaters and Paxton's Sandal Saver are all recommended by the manufacturer.

If none of those work, Keen says that it could be because the antimicrobial treatment was faulty and that you should contact them regarding your warranty and they advise:

If you’ve tried everything and think this is the case, contact us via email at for further warranty instructions.

The truth is, with sandals and rock climbing shoes (which are also usually worn barefoot), I've pretty much never had good luck with any of those options. By all means try them and certainly try to collect on any warranty they'll honor. If you don't want to try that and want to pull out all the stops (including certainly voiding your warranty), this is the next level up in escalating the war against foot funk:

  • Fungicide. I've tried everything from Lysol to industrial strength fungicides on sandals and ski boots with modest results. This is not approved by Keen.
  • Nuclear bomb strategy definitely not approved by Keen — when all else fails, a solution of an ounce of bleach in a gallon of water, drench, let sit, rinse throughly, and then air dry. I only use this if it's come down to either getting the stink out or throwing away the sandals, because this may well ruin them. I've never actually ruined a pair of shoes with this method, but I have had a pair of ski boots and a pair of sandals refuse to come aroud even after an overnight soaking (though with some improvement).
  • I've seen a product for rock climbing shoes, but can't remember the name. Since they're usually worn barefoot, that would probably work for sandals too. Please leave a comment if you know the name.

At a certain point, you'll have to give up your old favorites, at least in the company of others.