How Long Do Flip Flops Last?

Flip flops are typically inexpensive so you may choose to replace them frequently

Photo: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Flip flops are a classic shoe that you can wear all summer. Whether you're hanging out by the pool or running some errands downtown, your flip flops probably get more wear and tear than you think. You might find yourself looking to purchase a new pair after a couple of months, but how long do flip flops really last? Doctors and fashionistas everywhere have different opinions that range from tossing your flip flops when they start to look grimy to banning them from your wardrobe altogether.

When Flip Flops Are Broken

The lifespan of your flip flops greatly depends on their material. One of the most popular flip flops are the plastic or foam rainbow-colored flip flops that sell for under $5 a pair. As you would expect, these don't last very long; the foam and plastic wear down much more quickly than a leather or even synthetic leather, and the band around the foot is prone to breakage. Since these kinds of shoes are inexpensive, you may choose buy a new pair -- or two -- every summer. If you wear them infrequently, they could last much longer.

When Flip Flops Look Worn Down

The foot bed of flip flops is open and visible, so you might notice that after a month or two, you can clearly see the outline of your foot. It's difficult or impossible to remove a foot imprint from a cheap plastic flip flop. Instead, when you see your footprint or notice that there is an indent where your toes are, you might want to buy a new pair. If you only wear your flip flops in the shower or around the pool, they might not get dirty as quickly. But after two to three months of frequent wear, cheap flip flops begin to look worn. While they're still wearable, many women dispose of them for aesthetic reasons.

Why You Should Never Wear Flip Flops

Many doctors and surgeons believe that you should never wear flip flops and that flip flops are a health hazard. A study performed by the New York Daily News found that after four days, a $3.50 pair of plastic flip flops contained 18,100 bacteria. According to Dr. Charles P. Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, after three months of wear, 93 percent of flip flops have fecal bacteria and 20 percent have E. coli. If exposed to a blister, cut or broken skin, this could pose extreme health risks. Flip flops also cause foot and tendon injury because they offer no support and frequently lead to twisted ankles, slips and falls.

How to Get the Most Wear Out of Your Flip Flops

To make your flip flops last as long as possible, it's important to care for them properly. First, don't choose an inexpensive or plastic flip flop. The cheaper the shoe, the less time it lasts before wearing down. If your flip flop becomes dirty or starts to smell, try using baking soda or tea tree oil to remove any foul odors, then wash it with a hand cloth and vinegar. Avoid using any soaps that might wear down the plastic. If your flip flops are leather, don't wear when them when they're wet; wet shoes fall apart more quickly.

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