Flip flops are one of the most popular types of footwear to wear during the summer, and thanks to their versatility, you can wear them to the beach or down the street to run a few errands. However, just like with any other type of footwear, they wear out over time, and since most of them are not as sturdy as regular shoes, they can break down even sooner. So how long do flip flops typically last?
How long do flip flops last? The average quality of flip flops last about twelve months. The durability of flip flops will depend on their construction and quality as well as how well you take care of them.
In terms of construction, a durable pair of flip flops will have water resistance properties that will allow them to hold up well in wet or damp conditions. Additionally, durable flip flops will also be flexible, easily molding to your foot as well as the terrain that they are subjected to. If the flip flops are too stiff, they will end up falling apart after a couple of uses. The attachment of the straps to the base of flip flops will also play a major role in how long they will last – a flip flop that features a sewn-in strap is highly likely to last longer. The material used in the construction of the flip flop is another key determinant in the durability of a flip flop. Materials such as leather and rubber will be more long-lasting than foam. When it comes to flip flop care, it is important to prevent damage when it happens, whether by cleaning and drying them appropriately or using protectants where recommended.
The fact that flip flops are light and simple in design does not mean that they shouldn’t be long-lasting. If you intend to use your flip flops for any amount of time, one of the things that will play a key role in your experience is the durability. There is no concrete way of determining exactly how long a pair of flip flops will last. As a result, the durability of a pair of flip flops will typically depend on two factors:
Their construction and quality
Some of the aspects to keep in mind when looking at the construction and quality of flip flops concerning durability include:
- Water-resistance – Although water resistance is often assumed to be reserved for athletic footwear, most flip flops are usually worn to the pool and the beach, which means that it is just as important for them to hold up well in wet conditions. As a result, you will want to look for flip flops that will not become easily saturated by water and end up damaged. Brands such as Teva and KEEN are known to make flip flops that are water-resistant, making them ideal for those intending to spend their days at the beach or by the pool in their flip flop.
- Flexibility – An important aspect of being durable is being able to bend and give without falling apart. A flip flop should mold to your foot after a couple of wears, as well as to the terrain that it is subjected to. If they are too stiff even after you break them in, it is highly likely that you will not only end up sustaining injuries, but the flip flops could also end up falling apart sooner than expected. When purchasing flip flops, test them out against a wall to determine how far they can bend comfortably.
- Strap attachment – The way the straps are attached to the base of the flip flop will also play an important role in how long they will last. Straps that are loosely attached are more likely to fall apart as compared to straps that are more tightly secured. For instance, a foam bottom flip flop that has a thong strap which is simply shoved through will not last as long as a flip flop that comes with a sewn-in strap.
- Material – The type of material used in the construction of the flip flop is a key determinant in how long they last. Although flip flops made from foam are cheap, they should be generally avoided as they tend to wear out very quickly.
The best materials to consider in terms of durability
- Leather – Leather is a natural material that is breathable, comfortable, and most importantly, durable. Over time, your leather flip flops will change in shape and mold to your feet. The only downside of leather is that it is not naturally water-resistant. This means that you will have to treat it to be able to use it in water without irreversibly damaging them.
- Rubber – Rubber is one of the most common material options for flip flops. This is because it is not only durable but also water-resistant. Polyurethane is a good choice of rubber, but you will want to go for molded polyurethane rather than the cheap variety which will lack durability. Gum rubber is a great choice as well that is supple, durable, and waterproof. However, the wrong pair of rubber flip flops will cause blisters and chafing, so you will want to go for a design that will be comfortable for your foot shape.
- Cork – Cork is a comfortable and durable material that has shock-absorbing as well as antimicrobial and moisture-wicking properties, absorbing sweat even on the hottest days. It also easily molds to the contours of your foot, allowing for a comfortable experience when worn.
- Suede – Suede is a variant of leather that makes for a sturdy pair of flip flops, allowing for long-lasting wear. Suede flip flops are plush but still very comfortable to wear, and they easily mold to your feet as well. However, just like leather flip flops, you will need to apply a protectant to them before exposing them to wet conditions.
- Fabric – Flip flops made from fabric are usually a mix of natural fibers (like cotton) and synthetic fibers (such as polyester). They are typically flat-woven to allow for maximum stretch and an increased lifespan.
How well you care for them
Flip flops require a bit of care and proper cleaning if you want to extend their lifespan. Some aspects of care will work for all types of flip flops, but when it comes to cleaning, you will have to pay attention to the flip flop material to clean it properly. Here are some tips on how to care for your flip flops:
- Flip flop maintenance – When it comes to flip flop care, preventing damage will go a long way in prolonging its lifespan. If you have suede or leather flip flops, this means investing in protectants that are suited for the respective materials to protect them from dirt, water, and other elements that could potentially lead to the damage of your flip flops. The process of application of these protectants should be done with care – too little of the protectant will still expose your flip flop to damage, while too much of it is just wasteful. Therefore, you will want to follow the application instructions provided on the packaging or consult the brand for guidance.
- Cleaning your flip flops – You can clean the footbed of any flip flop using rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. Rub the white vinegar or rubbing alcohol across the surface of the footbed with a soft cloth. This will remove the built-up grime and dirt as well as kill any lurking germs.
- Cleaning leather – To clean your leather flip flops, start by brushing them using a soft-bristled brush to remove the surface dirt. Do this gently to avoid scratching and damaging them. To wash them, use a damp cloth to apply some leather cleaner evenly to the flip flop. Once they are clean, wipe them down and allow them to dry. When they are completely dry, apply a leather conditioner in gentle, circular motions with a dry cloth.
- Cleaning rubber – Rubber flip flops are relatively easy to clean. The easiest option is to toss them in the washing machine and add a bit of detergent. Just make sure you run the gentle cycle and use cold water. Alternatively, you can hand wash them using dish soap diluted in water and a clean sponge. Scrub the flip flops, rinse them off, and then let them dry.
- Cleaning suede – Start by using a suede brush to get rid of the surface dirt in your suede flip flops. For stains that have set in, use a stain or pencil eraser on the affected areas. If the stains are still visible, apply rubbing alcohol or white vinegar using a clean soft cloth.
- Cleaning canvas – To clean your canvas flip flops, use a mix of equal parts water and baking soda to make a paste. Using an old toothbrush, apply the paste to the flip flops in circular motions. Remove the paste by placing the flip flops under cold running water.
- Drying your flip flops – To avoid potentially damaging your flip flops, always air dry them regardless of the material.
The durability of flip flops will depend on the quality of their construction as well as how well you take care of them. When shopping for flip flops, you want to take into consideration factors such as material, flexibility, and water resistance if longevity is a priority. Additionally, as you are cleaning the flip flop, use techniques that will not end up damaging the material.