how to clean birkenstocks

How to Clean Birkenstocks: A Comprehensive Guide

Birkenstocks are a popular choice for those who prioritize comfort and style in their footwear.

With their unique footbed that conforms to the shape of your foot, they offer unparalleled comfort.

However, as with any footwear, Birkenstocks require regular care and cleaning to maintain their look and longevity.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to clean your Birkenstocks effectively and safely.

Understanding Your Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks come in a variety of materials, including suede, nubuck, and synthetic materials such as Birko-Flor and Birkibuc.

Each type of material requires a slightly different cleaning approach.

Therefore, understanding the material of your Birkenstocks is the first step to effective cleaning.

Suede and Nubuck: These are delicate materials that require careful handling. Avoid soaking them in water as this could lead to damage.

Birko-Flor and Birkibuc: These synthetic materials are designed to be more durable and water-resistant than natural materials, making them easier to clean.

Cleaning the Footbed

The footbed is the part of the shoe that comes into direct contact with your feet.

Over time, it can accumulate dirt, sweat, and odors. Here are the steps to clean your Birkenstock footbed:

1. Gather Your Materials: You’ll need a soft brush, water, mild soap or a specialized Birkenstock Cleaner & Refresher, and a cloth or towel.

2. Prepare the Cleaning Solution: Mix a few drops of mild soap or use the Birkenstock Cleaner & Refresher with a small amount of water.

3. Scrub the Footbed: Dip the brush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the footbed. Be sure to cover all areas, paying special attention to the areas where your foot makes the most contact.

4. Wipe Off the Solution: Once you have scrubbed the footbed thoroughly, use a damp cloth or towel to wipe off the cleaning solution.

5. Allow to Dry: Leave your Birkenstocks in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Do not expose them to direct heat or sunlight, as this can cause the material to shrink or become brittle.

Cleaning the Upper Material

The upper part of your Birkenstocks also needs regular cleaning to maintain its appearance.

The process varies slightly depending on the material.

Suede and Nubuck Uppers: Use a suede brush to gently remove surface dirt and stains. For stubborn stains, consider using a suede eraser or a specialized suede cleaner.

Birko-Flor and Birkibuc Uppers: Use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt or stains. For more stubborn stains, a mild soap solution can be used. Rinse with a cloth dampened with clean water and allow to air dry.

Dealing with Stubborn Stains

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, stubborn stains may persist.

In such cases, a specialized cleaning product may be required. Birkenstock sells a range of products designed specifically for their shoes.

When using any new cleaning product, always test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not discolor or damage the material.

Maintaining Your Birkenstocks

Regular cleaning is just one aspect of caring for your Birkenstocks. To prolong their lifespan, consider the following tips:

1. Rotate Your Shoes: Just like any other footwear, Birkenstocks benefit from a rest day. This allows the cork footbed to fully dry out, preventing degradation.

2. Use a Sealant: The cork footbed can dry out and crack over time. Using a specialized cork sealant can help to maintain its flexibility and extend its lifespan. Birkenstock sells a Cork Sealer, but any natural cork sealant will do.

3. Protect Them: If you know you’ll be walking through water or mud, consider wearing different shoes. While Birkenstocks can handle a bit of moisture, they’re not designed to be fully submerged or exposed to harsh conditions.

4. Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your Birkenstocks for signs of wear and tear. Early detection of issues like loose stitching or a worn-down sole can prevent further damage and prolong the life of your shoes.

Storing Your Birkenstocks

Proper storage is an often-overlooked aspect of shoe care.

When not in use, Birkenstocks should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

They should also be stored in such a way that they retain their shape – use a shoe tree or some crumpled paper if necessary.

Professional Cleaning

While regular home cleaning and maintenance should keep your Birkenstocks in good condition, sometimes professional cleaning may be necessary, especially if the shoes have been neglected for a while, or they have serious stains or smells.

Professional cleaners have the tools and expertise to deeply clean and refresh your shoes without damaging them.


Birkenstocks are a worthwhile investment, offering comfort and style that few other shoes can match.

With regular cleaning and proper care, your Birkenstocks can provide you with years of wear. So, give your Birkenstocks the care they deserve, and they’ll continue to give you the comfort you love.

Cleaning your Birkenstocks involves careful cleaning of the footbed and upper material, dealing with stubborn stains, regular maintenance, proper storage, and occasional professional cleaning.

Each step ensures that your favorite pair of shoes remains in excellent condition for as long as possible.

Remember, the key to long-lasting Birkenstocks is consistent and proper care.

FAQs that were not addressed in the article:

Can I machine wash my Birkenstocks?

No, you should not machine wash your Birkenstocks. The process can damage the materials and structure of the shoe, affecting its comfort and lifespan.

Can I wear my Birkenstocks in the rain?

While Birkenstocks can handle light rain, they are not designed to be fully waterproof. Prolonged exposure to water can damage the cork footbed and cause the sandals to lose their shape.

How often should I clean my Birkenstocks?

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you wear your Birkenstocks. If you wear them daily, a bi-weekly cleaning would be beneficial. However, if you wear them less often, cleaning them once a month should be sufficient.

What if the footbed of my Birkenstocks has become very dark or discolored?

This is often due to the buildup of sweat and oils from your feet. Regular cleaning as outlined in the article can help prevent this. However, if the discoloration is significant, professional cleaning may be necessary.

The soles of my Birkenstocks are worn out, but the rest of the shoe is fine. What can I do?

Birkenstock offers a resoling service, where they replace the worn-out soles of your shoes. This can extend the lifespan of your Birkenstocks and is generally more cost-effective than buying a new pair.

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