Birkenstocks – the iconic summer sandals. Perfect for slipping on and off at your leisure and with a comfortable, ergonomic sole, they are the ultimate footwear choice for warmer weather. Birkenstocks are a wardrobe staple and last year after year if properly cared for. So how do you look after your Birkenstocks and prevent them from wearing out too quickly? This blog aims to advise you on how to properly clean your Birkenstocks so that they can stay looking brand new and smell divine every summer!
Table of contents
- What will I need to clean my Birkenstocks?
- How to clean leather Birkenstocks
- How to clean suede Birkenstocks
- How to clean the sole of Birkenstocks
- How to clean synthetic Birkenstocks
What will I need to clean my Birkenstocks?
- Unused toothbrush
- Clean cloths
- Bowl of water
- Suede brush
- Leather cleaner/ shampoo
- Stiff bristle brush
- Mild soap
- Leather polish
- Leather grease/ conditioner
If your Birkenstocks are dirty, clean them as soon as possible to help them last longer. The best place to start is to remove any dry, excess dirt.
Of course, Birkenstocks aren’t supposed to be squeaky clean – the worn-in look often gives them that little bit of character. However, keeping them in good condition will prolong the life of your Birkenstocks and prevent them from smelling so that you can continue to wear them as your summer staples.
Be careful you aren’t using the same method for suede, leather and synthetic parts of your Birkenstocks, as this may cause irreversible damage to your favourite sandals.
How to clean leather Birkenstocks
Leather Birkenstocks make a great addition to your summer wardrobe for hassle-free wearing, but it’s inevitable that your Birkenstocks will become dirty if you wear them regularly throughout the summer. So, by cleaning your leather Birkenstocks, you’ll be able to keep their condition better for longer, which allows you to return to the same sandals year after year. Remember to undo any buckle straps to ensure you clean the hidden dirt.
You’ll mostly find the smooth leather on the Birkenstock straps. However, some leather Birkenstocks in our collection have smooth leather footbeds, requiring the following cleaning method and care.
Step 1: Remove coarse dirt
First, take a damp, lint-free cloth to remove excess or coarse dirt like mud or dust. Proceed to rub any smooth leather with the damp cloth. Ensure that you don’t allow the leather to become overly wet.
Step 2: Removing stains
Use a leather cleaner or shampoo with a cloth if they have embedded stains, and rub your Birkenstock leather in circular motions.
Step 3: Buff your leather
Take another dry cloth to buff and dry your leather to maintain its shine and to mop up excess water.
Step 4: Allow them to dry
Allow the leather to dry overnight, placing them somewhere they won’t be exposed to excessive sunlight or a heat source. Too much heat can warp and damage the leather.
Step 5: Polish any smooth leather
Polishing leather can help nourish and clean your Birkenstocks while eliminating scuff marks. Apply polish to a cloth and rub the shoes, aiming for circular motions. Leave for a minimum of an hour. However, you can leave leather polish on overnight to ensure the leather properly absorbs the polish. Then take a clean, dry cloth and buff the polish away with the same circular motion.
Step 6: Condition your Birkenstocks
Protect your Birkenstock leather uppers with a leather conditioner to maintain the leather’s original shine. Grease the upper leather of your sandals with some leather conditioner using a clean cloth and circular buffing motions. Only grease the outside and cover the footbed with paper for protection.
How to clean suede Birkenstocks
Suede Birkenstocks are always fashionable and make a stylish and comfortable addition to a beachy, carefree wardrobe. Birkenstock is also renowned for its foot-shaped suede footbed, offering comfortable and secure wearing. However, these suede footbeds easily collect dirt, oil and the imprint of your foot. Often, we can be thrown by suede, automatically categorising it as a “difficult fabric” that is easy to ruin.
However, with the correct method, you can clean suede back to new in no time, so you can continue incorporating them into your everyday fashion favourites. Although it may seem excessive, cleaning your Birkenstock soles every few weeks will ensure the task isn’t overly arduous and will avoid irreversible damage. Again, undo any buckle straps to get to all the dirt. You can find suede on the Birkenstock straps and most of the footbeds.
Step 1: Remove dried, coarse dirt
First, remove excess dirt and dust with a dry, bristled suede brush. Take your suede brush to the straps and footbed of your shoe and gently brush until all the dirt has fallen away. Don’t forget the underside of the straps.
Step 2: Clean with a damp brush
Slightly dampen your brush to clean the more embedded dirt. Be careful not to apply too much water because it can damage the suede. Brush with the suede grain on the straps and footbed.
Step 3: Eliminate any odour
Birkenstock footbeds can absorb a lot of oil from your feet and start to smell if you don’t clean them often. Take your suede cleaner and some warm water in a bowl, and add a small amount to an old toothbrush. Lather the footbed with circular motions to lift the oil out of the footbed.
Step 4: Remove the lather
Use a wet cloth and wipe the excess lather off the footbed. Leaving it on would damage the suede. Do not run under the water. Getting your Birkenstocks completely saturated would permanently damage them.
Step 5: Let them dry
You must be patient and allow your Birkenstocks time to dry after cleaning, which should take 24 hours. Once the shoes are dry, take your suede brush and gently brush the areas you have cleaned to reinvigorate the suede fibres. Ensure to dry them at room temperature and not in the sun or on a radiator, as this will damage the suede.
Step 6: Waterproof your suede
We recommend that you regularly spray the upper leather of your sandals with a sparse amount of colourless waterproofing spray to protect them from rain and water splashes. Only spray them outside, and don’t forget to protect the rest of your Birkenstock suede with paper while you spray.
How to clean the sole of Birkenstocks
You can also clean your Birkenstock soles if you want to use them inside and outside. Birkenstock soles come in EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate), a cushioned, foamy material that acts as a shock-absorbing layer. The EVA soles provide comfort and support for your feet, perfect for summer activities. They are easy to clean as they are synthetic.
Step 1: Brush your soles
Take a damp brush to your Birkenstock soles, and brush any dirt away.
Step 2: Wipe with a cloth
Wipe any excess water and dirt with a clean cloth.
How to clean synthetic Birkenstocks
If your Birkenstocks are neither leather nor suede, a popular choice is often synthetic materials. You can get vegan Birkenstocks with vegan leather or EVA. However, this doesn’t mean they’re exempt from getting dirty. The following steps will show you how to clean your synthetic Birkenstocks so that you can continue to enjoy your footwear.
Cleaning vegan leather Birkenstocks
The synthetic leather Birkenstocks are slightly more robust than natural leather, so you don’t need to be as delicate, and there is no need to condition or polish them.
Step 1: Clean with a cloth
Similarly to smooth leather, remove any dried dirt on the upper with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Clean under the straps and the footbed
Clean the underside of the straps and footbed with a slightly damp, soft-bristled brush.
Step 3: Leave to dry
Leave to dry in a similar way to leather, away from direct sunlight and heat.
Cleaning EVA Birkenstocks
EVA Birkenstocks are 100% waterproof, so they are super easy to clean.
Step 1: Remove excess dirt
Use your damp cloth to wipe away excess dirt on the Birkenstocks.
Step 2: Clean
Add fragrance-free soap to your damp cloth and rub the stains until they disappear. Then, rinse them off under a tap.
Step 3: Dry
Leave your EVA Birkenstocks to dry overnight whilst avoiding exposure to direct sunlight.
Birkenstocks at Daniel Footwear
By following these steps, you can keep your Birkenstocks presentable, wearable and prolong their lifespan. Birkenstocks are always the perfect addition to complete any summer outfit. Whether pairing them with jeans, shorts or a skirt, they look effortlessly stylish.
For more Birkenstock inspiration, browse our stunning selection in our Birkenstock collection.