How to clean Birkenstocks? Easy Tips and Tricks

How to clean Birkenstocks? 10+ most popular steps


How to clean Birkenstocks? Birkenstocks are shoes that have been produced for over two centuries and are sold almost all over the world. Today the company offers many models. You can buy sandals, boots, and shoes. Materials used are the best and most natural, be it leather, cork, suede, copper, and so on.

The longer you wear Birkenstock shoes, the more comfortable they become for your feet.

But that also means they wear out and get dirty. In this article, we’ll show you easy ways to keep your Birkenstocks clean and last longer and how to clean Birkenstocks of any kind.

  • Keep slippers away from heat sources
  • Do not leave it in a hot car or the sun, for example, on a balcony or in a cottage in the yard, as the cork sole may crack and the straps will shrink, don’t dry in sunlight
  • Do not immerse flip-flops in water or leave them on the porch in the rain. This will lead to premature wear and damage.

These shoes are adored by stars and fashion bloggers, they are worn on bare feet and with socks, put on in the office, shop, on the beach and go home, combining with any clothes, even with evening dresses, even with sports shorts. Not surprisingly, after such active use, it requires special care.

How to clean Birkenstocks: Characteristic features

Initially, they were worn for the prevention of flat feet and were not considered as a fashionable element of the image.

On the contrary, then and even now, many consider these shoes too rough. But when simplicity and comfort came into fashion, Birkenstocks quickly won the hearts of buyers and became one of the most trendy pairs of shoes:

They are sewn mainly from leather

Other materials are also used – suede, felt, nubuck, etc. The sole may also differ: it is made from rubber, silicone, latex, and cork.

Thanks to this, the shoes do not slip and fix the foot well. The main advantage of Birkenstocks is the perfect arch and outsole that follows the curves of the foot. That is why shoes are considered the most comfortable.

How to clean Birkenstocks: What You’ll Need

  • Suede brush
  • Piece of cloth (clean cloth)
  • Art gum eraser or pencil eraser
  • Cornstarch or baby powder
  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Commercial shoe polish
  • Leather conditioner
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Glass cleaner
  • Laundry stain remover
  • Cork sealer

How to clean Birkenstocks: Step-by-step guide

1. Brush Away the Surface Soil

Take a suede brush and clean the Birkenstocks of any excess dirt. The suede brush also helps to remove any dirt that has stuck to the sole of the shoe.

2. Rub Away Dried Stains

If you’ve spilled food or soiled your shoes in mud, clean up as much dirt as you can. But do not rub. Sometimes wet stains, after trying to remove them, become tough stains and only get deeper into shoes. Let the stained area dry. Remove the stain with a suede eraser before cleaning.

3. Absorb Oily Stains

Oil stains on suede can be removed as follows. Immediately sprinkle them with cornstarch to absorb the oil. Let the starch sit on the stain for three to four hours before washing it off. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

4. Scrape Away the Dirt

If you are unlucky and something is stuck to the suede, do not rush to pick up the glue eraser. Such products can change the color of the suede. They can be used as a last resort. Place an ice cube in a plastic bag and place it in the problem area. Let the sticky thing harden to gently remove it further.

Use a dull knife and the edge of an old credit card to chip away hardened gum or whatever. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. When the hardened part is removed, take the eraser and remove the remaining stain, then brush with a suede brush.

Let the shoes get dry. After you apply the cleaning agent, the shoes should be completely dry. Then you need to brush it again with a brush. This will help bring the shoes into proper shape.

If the suede straps get wet or have liquid or food spills on them, try not to rub them. Blot the stain with a microfiber cloth, leave the shoes to dry thoroughly, and then use a brush or eraser to remove as much of the stain from the suede as possible.

If the stain is oily, use cornstarch or baby powder to soak up the oil. Then brush off the starch with a dry brush.

If there is something sticky left on the flip-flops, such as chewing gum, try freezing them. Place an ice cube in a bag over the sticky spot until it hardens, then use a serving knife to scrape off the gum.

Cork sole

Classic Birkenstocks have cork soles. You can clean it with a homemade cleaning solution: mix two cups of warm water with half a teaspoon of laundry detergent and two tablespoons of vinegar. Dip your toothbrush in this product and scrub the cork.

How to clean Birkenstocks: Leather Birkenstocks with leather straps

Use a wet piece of cloth to wipe away dirt or dark streaks. Glass cleaner or petroleum jelly will help restore the shine to shoes if they don’t come back after a simple wipe. But to polish and tidy your leather shoes, you need to find a good quality shoe polish and leather conditioner and use them according to package directions.

How to clean Birkenstocks: Step-by-step

  1. Prepare a cleaning cloth. Apply a small amount of leather cleaner to a clean cloth. You can use the same cloth to apply the cleaner to the entire surface of your leather shoes. Use enough cleaner to cover the entire surface.
  2. You can also use a mixture of water and salt. With this method of cleaning, the main thing is not to let the skin soak in moisture too much.
  3. Remove any scuffs. Use salt water or a commercially available leather cleaner to remove scuff marks. The main thing is not to let the leather shoes get wet too much.
  4. Wash salt stains with a mixture of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar. Wipe the entire surface of the shoe with a cloth soaked in the resulting solution. Repeat the process until all stains have been removed.
  5. Gently rub your shoes. Take the time to thoroughly rub the entire surface of the shoe with a leather cleaner.
  6. Use another clean cloth to polish your shoes.
  7. Rub your shoes gently. Thoroughly clean the entire surface of the shoe with a leather cleaner. Use a clean rag for polishing. Let the shoes dry properly. It’s best to let them dry overnight before wearing them. Never dry them in the sun.
  8. Polish your shoes. Line your workspace with paper before you start polishing. Apply the polish to a cloth and gently buff the shoes.
  9. Carefully treat the entire surface of the shoe. Take a friend a rag and rub the shoes. Shoes must be dry. If the leather is shiny, you can lightly dampen a polishing cloth with water. Treat your shoes with a leather shoe conditioner every couple of years.

Suede Birkenstocks or nubuck leather ones

Use a suede cleaner. Apply a small amount of coin-sized suede cleaner to a clean, cloth. Gently rub your suede Birkenstocks with the cleaner. Apply a thin layer of cleaner to the stained surface of suede shoes. Don’t go overboard with the amount of suede cleaning solution.

Good suede cleaners can be found at most stores that specialize in footwear or leather care products.

How to clean Birkenstocks: Cleaning faux leather Birkenstocks

The outsoles of Birkenstock sandals are also made of plastic (polyurethane) or rubber and can, therefore – like artificial leather – be cleaned very easily with a damp cloth.

If the soles have a deep profile or are white, try the same method you used to clean the footbed: you can get rid of the discoloration on light-colored outsoles with water, baking soda, washing-up liquid, and an old toothbrush.

  • Cleaning genuine leather

Patent leather straps are made of lacquered or laminated leather. Thanks to its mirror-smooth surface, it is hardly susceptible to dirt and can be easily cleaned with a damp cotton cloth in circular movements.

  • Cleaning Vegan Birkenstocks

Imitation leather is similar to patent leather. Birkenstock’s vegan models are made of synthetic material and therefore have different care requirements than real leather. Vegan Birkenstock sandals can be easily cleaned with a damp (microfiber) cloth. If that alone is not enough, a little washing-up liquid or mild detergent will also help here.

How to clean Birkenstocks: Sole care and how to clean cork soles

  1. Learn how to clean your insoles. Birkenstocks are designed for long-term wear. If the insoles become dirty, wash them the same evening with a damp piece of cloth. However, do not wet the insoles too much.
  2. Try cleaning your insoles with home remedies.

Caring for nubuck leather

Cork sandals made of nubuck leather become dull over time as a result of dust build-up. Then it helps to occasionally brush off coarse dust and dirt. Nubuck also benefits from a vinegar-water mixture that washes and sours it.

Just do the same as described in the paragraph on smooth leather and brush the leather again after it has dried. For stubborn stains on nubuck leather straps, dissolve some mild detergent or a mild detergent alternative with chestnuts in water and repeat cleaning with the toothbrush.

The fibers of the leather can be carefully roughened up again with fine-grained sandpaper.

Tip: You can try to remove grease stains from nubuck leather with the household helper. To do this, dust the stain with starch, leave it to work for a few minutes and then gently brush out the cornstarch.

How to clean Birkenstocks? Cleaning the footbed of Birkenstock sandals

  • A leather brush is usually sufficient to remove light soiling such as dust or dirt from the open footbeds of your Birkenstock sandals. Use this to firmly brush the leather. For stubborn dirt, Birkenstock recommends cleaning the footbed with a damp cloth – like this:
  • Unbuckle the sandals.
  • Apply some water and leather shampoo (alternatively baby shampoo) to the footbed and massage in carefully with a small brush (e.g. an old toothbrush).
  • Then carefully remove the foam with a damp cloth.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water, ideally with a clean cloth. If possible, do not hold the sandals under running water.
  • Let the shoes dry completely for at least 24 hours.
    After it is completely dry, brush the footbed again with a clean shoe brush.

How to clean Birkenstocks? How Often to Clean Birkenstocks

The cleaning process will and frequency depend on the type of Birkenstocks you wear. Every time you wear these shoes, take a suitable brush with you to clean off excess dirt or grass stains.

Clean leather Birkenstocks and patent leather ones with special leather shoe polish and leather cleaner, suede Birkenstocks will need to be brushed constantly, and cork soles will need to be washed and coated with cork sealer. Fabric Birkenstocks need to be cleared directly at the spots.

How to clean Birkenstocks? TIPS

  1. Use a microfiber cloth dipped in a cleaning solution to remove persistent stains.
  2. Suede gum can be used as well with tough stains.
  3. Leather conditioner should be used with patent leather Birkenstocks.
  4. Do not expose to direct sunlight, direct sunlight will do irreversible damage.
  5. Upon returning home, the shoes should be wiped with a wet cloth or sponge from the outside, removing street dust, and inside. If the insoles are removable, it is preferable to remove them and wash them in soapy water. If not removed, then the inner surface must also be wiped. Dry well.
  6. Dry and clean shoes can be treated with a deodorant spray. Apply the aerosol inside evenly, from a short distance. This must be done in a ventilated area. Sprays have not only an odor-masking effect. They also kill bacteria that thrive in humid environments.
  7. Cleaning the upper of Birkenstocks: the upper of your Birkenstocks also needs attention. Proper cleaning and care depends on the material.
  8. Textile surface: Rub the sandal with a damp sponge or cloth, then let it dry thoroughly.
  9. Nubuck or suede leather should not be treated with shoe polish. You can easily brush out dust and dirt with a standard nubuck brush. Alternatively, you can use a cloth. Regularly care for the nubuck leather by roughening it with the nubuck brush. Then remember to treat the leather with colorless waterproofing spray.
  10. Smooth leather: A soft cloth is sufficient for smooth leather to remove dust and dirt. You can rub off water marks with a wet cloth after drying. If the color fades over the years, you can even it out with colored shoe polish.
  11. Oiled leather is a special oiled leather with a special patina that Birkenstock uses for many sandals. You can care for oiled leather similar to nubuck leather. Dust and other light dry dirt can be removed with a soft cloth or a nubuck brush.
  12. You can simply rub water marks, grease stains, and scratches on the leather with the heel of your hand. Oiled leather should be cared for alternately with leather wax and leather grease. But make sure to use the funds sparingly. And follow the care recommendations from Birkenstock and care product manufacturers.

How to choose Birkenstocks

If you are buying Birkenstocks, then choose the most comfortable model that will perfectly fit your foot. How to do it?

The manufacturer gives several recommendations:

  • Birkenstock produces shoes in two variations – for a standard foot and narrower. Choose a pair so that the foot does not go beyond the edge, but also does not hang out.
  • Unfasten all straps and then secure them comfortably to your leg. If your model has an ankle strap, don’t fasten it too tight. Otherwise, when walking, the foot will move forward.
  • There should be a couple of free millimeters of insoles near the toe and in the heel area so that the shoes do not hinder movement. When trying on, be sure to follow all these steps and walk around a bit. If nothing presses, and the foot does not strain when walking, feel free to take a pair into your wardrobe.

Today, the Birkenstock product range consists of many types of sandals, flip-flops, clogs, closed shoes and slippers. In our selection, a key place is given to the Boston silhouette – one of the brand’s hit models, which you may be familiar with from the cover of the GQ issue with Kanye West. These sandals are available in leather or suede.

FAQ: How to clean Birkenstocks?

What is the best way to clean your Birkenstocks?

1. Remove dirt, remove dried coarse dust and dirt with a brush
2. Clean with a wet cloth
3. Wipe the sole
4. Let air dry overnight

Since the birkenstocks are made from different materials: suede, genuine leather, fabric and in the classic model with cork soles, they cannot be machine washed or soaked in a basin of water.

Classic Birkenstocks have cork soles. You can clean it with a homemade cleaning solution: mix two cups of warm water with half a teaspoon of laundry detergent and two tablespoons of vinegar. Dip your toothbrush in this product and scrub the cork.

What do you clean footbed Birkenstocks with?

Pasty mixture of baking soda and warm water. Gently scrub footbeds with this paste.

How do you clean Birkenstock sandals yourself?

Make a cleaning solution with detergent powder and warm water to make a paste. Rub the paste on the dirty areas. Using an old toothbrush or soft cloth, gently scrub the paste over your shoes in a circular motion.

Wash off the paste with warm water and a wet piece of cloth. Apply some more paste and leave overnight. Wash off the paste in the morning. Let dry completely.

How do you clean stinky Birkenstocks?

To remove a lingering smell, sprinkle a little baking soda inside the shoes and leave for several hours. Use a soft cloth to remove the excess baking soda.

Conclusion: How to clean Birkenstocks?

Now you know how to clean Birkenstocks of any kind. The main thing is to be gentle and not leave them in the sun and clean them promptly.

For several seasons in a row, Birkenstocks have not gone out of fashion. It’s the perfect summer wardrobe staple for its comfort and versatility. With these shoes, you can easily create many stylish looks, and at the same time take care of the health of your feet.

Share this article with your friends who have Birkenstocks and leave comments.


  • Paula Mareen

    Paula Maureen has collaborated with famous shoe brands and designed popular women’s sandals. As a proofreader, she contributes to foot wisdom.

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