Cleaning Your Birkenstocks Isn't As Hard As You Think

Birkenstocks appear to be that one trend that never goes out of style for stylish and comfortable sandals. They have an effortlessly retro look with a very supportive footbed that adapts to your foot's shape for hours of comfort. Furthermore, the number of nightcrawler-style photos of celebrities performing errands in Birkenstocks has skyrocketed; For instance, Footwear News reported that celebrities like Britney Spears are big fans of the brand's designs.

They can, however, start to look a little dirty after a while, just like any other comfortable shoe that's used a lot. Sweat stains on the footbed, as well as dirt or watermarks on the upper side, are not only unattractive, but they can also impair the life of your favorite shoes. Typically, Birkenstocks are made of cork or synthetic materials that do not absorb water easily. But if you wear Birkenstocks on a daily basis and have managed to leave your feet imprinted on the shoes' once-virgin footbed landscape, your shoes are in need of desperate cleaning. However, you should know that you can clean Birkenstocks at home, no matter the material they're made of.

How to clean leather Birkenstocks

Cleaning your leather Birkenstocks with a commercial leather cleaner offers the best results. Because of wear and tear, as well as exposure to the environment, your leather Birkenstocks can become dry and brittle over time, but conditioning helps keep them supple and robust. Art of Manliness suggested cleaning and conditioning your leather two to three times a year, but if your shoes are continuously exposed to the sun, cleaning and conditioning them once a month is best. To keep their luster, patent leather finishes require a different cleaning process.

If your Birkenstocks are made of oiled and nubuck leathers, this is how you'll want to care for them:

  • Use a dime-sized amount of cleanser on a soft cloth. Apply it to the upper parts in a moderate circular motion. Using a dry rag, wipe away any excess cleaner.
  • Apply a tiny amount of leather conditioner to the upper with another clean, dry cloth. Rub it all over the straps with a gentle rubbing motion.
  • Allow the conditioner time to dry, up to 24 hours.

If your Birkenstocks are patent leather, follow these care instructions instead:

  • To clear dust and debris, dampen a microfiber cloth with water and rub it on the upper.
  • Dry the surface with a clean, dry cloth.
  • To remove scuff marks, soak a microfiber cloth in olive oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly, then gently rub the area where the scuff marks appear.
  • Remove the oil or jelly after 20 minutes.

How to clean suede Birkenstocks

You may be concerned about cleaning your suede Birkenstocks, but suede is actually easier to work with than other types of leather. PureWow said that the whole idea is to move slowly, take your time, and avoid working with damp suede — always wait until the shoe is completely dry before you start. To clean your suede Birkenstocks, you will need a cleaning brush, a suede eraser, a bit of white vinegar, and a microfiber cloth.

  • Gently brush any loose dirt or filth away from your Birkenstocks with the suede brush, working with the grain.
  • Next, use your suede eraser to remove any remaining scuffs or stains. Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to go down deep and remove the marks.
  • Switch between the eraser and the brush as soon as you remove the deeper stains to ensure all dirt particles are swept away.
  • If the stains persist, use white vinegar and a microfiber cloth to remove them. Using a little bit of white vinegar, dampen the cloth and perform a gentle back-and-forth motion to rub the vinegar into the stain.
  • Allow your Birks to dry completely before repeating the steps if necessary. If you don't want to use vinegar, try the first method again. This approach will take some time, but it will be well worth it once your suede Birkenstocks are restored to their former beauty.

How to clean synthetic Birkenstocks

If your Birkenstocks aren't made of leather or suede, synthetic materials are another popular choice, Daniel Footwear said. Although Birkenstock provides sandals made of lightweight jelly rubber, this does not mean they are impervious to dirt. Polyurethane is used in several Birkenstocks models, making them more straightforward to clean than leather or suede. To clean your synthetic Birkenstocks, you'll need a brush and a soft cloth with some soap. The cleaning process should go like this:

  • Use the brush to scrub the dirt and grime out of your synthetic Birkenstocks. You can use a firm bristle brush during this stage.
  • Dampen the cloth and rub it into the soap to lather it up; then wipe the stains off with the same cloth.
  • To dry your Birkenstocks, lay them flat in a dry space. Keep in mind that you should avoid placing them under direct sunlight at all costs.

Sunlight can damage them beyond repair, so don't make the mistake of leaving your synthetic Birkenstocks somewhere sunny, hoping the sun will dry them faster.

How to clean fabric Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks come in various top materials, including linen canvas, microfiber, and wool felt. A guide by The Spruce shared the secrets of cleaning fabric materials in a simple and effective way, so if you're looking for a way to clean your fabric Birkenstocks, this is it! To prepare the magic cleaning mixture, you need 2 cups of warm water, 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, a soft cloth, and a bowl.

  • Brush away dust and surface soil with a soft dry cloth or soft-bristled brush before spot-cleaning fabric shoes.

  • Make a cleaning mixture by combining the ingredients mentioned above.

  • Gently massage discolored areas with a small cloth dipped in the cleaning solution. Avoid oversaturating the fabric, and make sure you work in the fabric's grain direction.

  • Use a commercial laundry stain remover and an old toothbrush for difficult stains and gently clean the area.

  • Rinse with plain water and a clean cloth. To eliminate any lingering soapy residue, wring it out well and wipe clean the entire fabric portion of the shoe. Blot the fabric using paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

  • Allow the shoes to air dry away from direct heat.

How to clean EVA Birkenstocks

The easiest Birkenstocks material to clean is EVA. It's not only light and comfortable, but it's also waterproof, making it virtually impenetrable to spills.

  • Clean the uppers with a damp towel. To remove stuck-on filth, use a small amount of dish soap.
  • Remove any surplus soap by rinsing it away in the sink or wiping it away with a non-soapy moist cloth. To dry the upper, use a clean cloth.
  • For the footbed, repeat the steps above. To gain easier access, you may want to unbuckle the straps. It would also help to focus on going around the grooves near the front of the sandal to avoid leaving any particles behind.

Birkenstock normally finishes all of their models in-house, from the top to the footbed, ensuring that these long-lasting shoes require little maintenance. In addition, the company has also created a cleanser and refreshment spray to make its products easier to use and clean for its customers. Birkenstock recommended applying the spray every three to four weeks to clean and maintain your shoes. It's really easy to use; simply spray the cleanser onto the footbed and clean it with the bristle brush. The procedure is simple yet effective, and it saves you a lot of time.

How to clean Birko-Flor or Birkibuc Birkenstocks

Two of the brand's patented materials are Birko-Flor and Birkibuc. Birko-Flor is composed of PVC with a soft, breathable layer of fleece lining on the inside. Birkibuc is a long-lasting synthetic upper with a nubuck leather-like texture and a plush backing. Unlike suede or leather, both finishes are easy to keep clean.

  • According to I Love Birkenstocks, all you have to do to clean your Birko-Flor or Birkibuc is wipe the uppers clean with a damp towel. Be careful not to get the underside wet, especially the fleece, because this material is prone to becoming soggy and taking a long time to dry.
  • Use soap and water to remove stubborn stains because any harder cleaning or treatment may alter the appearance and finish of Birko-Flor or Birkibuc.
  • Direct sunlight can cause your shoes to crack and disintegrate more quickly, so make sure to allow your shoes to dry in a shaded location after applying a cleaning product to remove stains.

Even if you're pressed for time, don't put your Birko-Flor or Birkibuc shoes in the dryer to speed up the drying process because it may destroy them. Instead, allow them a minimum of 24 hours to dry before wearing them again.

How to clean your Birkenstocks' footbed

The footbed is the component that has to be cleaned the most because it is the section that smells the most. However, cleaning smelly Birkenstocks is not a difficult task: you'll need a suede brush, two soft cloths, baking soda, a small bowl, and water to clean your Birkenstocks' footbed.

  • Wipe the dirt off the footbed with the suede brush.
  • In a small mixing dish, combine 2-parts water and 1-part baking soda to make a paste.
  • Dip a small piece of one cloth into the paste and scrape it in a circular motion into the footbed. Wet the other cloth and use it to wipe away any surplus solution.
  • Allow your Birkenstocks to dry completely before continuing with the cleaning process.

World of Clogs mentioned that there are several footbed options available. Besides using homemade remedies to clean the shoes' footbeds, Birkenstock has developed a care kit that includes everything you need to look after your Birkenstocks. The cleaning brush, cleaner and refresher spray, cork sealer, and water and stain repellent spray are all included in the care kit. The cork sealer in the kit is ideal for protecting and preventing the cork soles from drying out. The sealer is best applied after about 10 to 15 wears and will assist in extending the life of your shoes.

How to clean cork soles on Birkenstocks

Don't forget to clean the cork bottoms once you've cleaned the uppers. After you've cleaned the uppers, go on to the cork soles. To get the corks clean, combine 2 cups of warm water in a bowl, 2 teaspoons of distilled white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of dishwasher liquid.

  • Dip a small soft brush or a toothbrush into the solution and gently scrub the cork sole in small pieces at a time.
  • After the soles have been cleaned, wipe off the entire cork area with a cloth dipped in water. Any soapy residue will be removed by rinsing the shoes like this.
  • Allow the shoes to air dry away from direct sunlight and heat.

The Birkenstocks' cork soles are sealed to maintain their flexibility, Sole to Soul Footwear said, so if the cork looks to be drying out, apply a new layer of cork sealant. You can find some at shoe repair shops, hardware stores, and the internet.

Tips to keep your Birkenstocks in good shape for longer

The Restory pointed out the importance of protecting your Birkenstocks through regular maintenance care. If you follow the care instructions from the company, you'll find that your sandals will look good and last longer. 

Stay away from severe heat. Your Birkenstocks may be damaged by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Keep them out of direct sunlight and out of the car on hot days, and don't leave them near radiators and fireplaces.

Avoid submerging them in water. Water can erode the glue or sealant and destroy the cork. If your shoes get wet, make sure to dry them carefully and away from direct heat, never in front of a heater. If the buckles have been exposed to saltwater, you should rinse them immediately to prevent corrosion.

Make sure your footbeds are well-ventilated. The Birkenstock footbed is made up of layers of jute and cork with a suede liner, made to soak up sweat from your feet. On that note, excess moisture causes odors to build up in the footbeds, which can be avoided by airing them out.