I’m always a little hesitant to wear my suede Birkenstocks in the summertime. They get so dirty from all of the walking around I do, and it’s not like they’re easy to clean. I’ve tried all sorts of methods over the years to find the best method to clean suede Birkenstock footwear, but nothing has worked perfectly.
I finally found a few in-house solutions that work well through – using a mixture of household items. It’s not the quickest or easiest process, but it works like a charm!
My Birkenstocks look brand new after I clean them with this method, and it only takes about 60 minutes from start to finish.
If you’re looking for an effective way to clean Birkenstocks at home with household items, give this method a try. You’ll be amazed at how well it works!
Before you start cleaning your pair of loved Birkenstocks, be informed about a few aspects that’ll help prolong the life of your pair and keep them evergreen (..or ever-birken-colored..lol).
1. How Often Should You Clean Your Birkenstocks
- It’s important to clean your Birkenstocks regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up on the surface. For best results, aim to clean your shoes at least once a month.
- If you wear them daily, you may need to clean them more often. If you live in a dusty area or if you often walk in dirt or mud, you may need to clean them more frequently.
2. How Long Should Birkenstocks Last
With proper care, Birkenstocks can last for many years. However, depending on how often you wear them and how well you take care of them, they may only last a few months or a few years.
3. How often should You seal Your Birkenstocks
If your Birkenstocks are made of leather or suede, it’s important to seal them and also the cork sole every few months to help protect the material from water and dirt. You can buy a commercial cork sealer specifically designed for shoes, or you can use a sealant designed for another type of leather product.
4. Specialized Cleaning Steps Based on Material
Know the material of your suede pair, because based on the material type (Suede, leather, fabric, Birko-flor, or EVA), some additional or special cleaning steps may be required to get the maximum out of the cleaning process.
How to Clean Leather Birkenstocks
Cleaning Birkenstock Sandals at home with household and kitchen items is not that tough! Spare some time and follow the procedures I described below. Just remember – do not overdo the cleaning as that may damage the material. Also, do not soak your Birkenstocks in water or any solution.
Specific types of Birkenstock sandals may require specific cleaning sometimes, especially if they are stained.
I’ll explain each type below, so hold tight!
|Time Required||45 minutes + overnight drying|
|Difficulty Level||Easy to medium|
Steps to Follow
- Step 1 – Wipe’em: Make sure the Birkenstock sandals are fully dry. Use a soft-bristled brush or partially moist microfiber cloth to wipe off the surface of the upper to get rid of dust and dirt.
- Step 2 – Mix’em: In a small bowl, take 1 teaspoon of saddle soap or Liquid Dish Soap and mix it with 2 cups of water.
- Step 3 – Saturate’em: Now use a microfiber cloth to saturate it in the soapy water, squeeze off the water completely, and start wiping the surface of the leather. Be extra careful while scrubbing near the stitching.
- Step 4 – Fight the stains: If there are any visible stains or scuff marks, mix warm water and white vinegar in a 2:1 ratio in a bowl. Dip an old toothbrush in the solution, then rub it in a circular motion over the stained area. You can repeat the process a few times until the stains are gone.
- Step 5 – For Patent Leather: If the top is patent leather, take a small amount of olive oil or petroleum jelly on a microfiber cloth, create a thin layer on the upper, and gently massage the surface where the scuff marks are visible. Keep it away for 15 minutes and wipe off the uppers clean.
- Step 6 – Wipe’em: Use a different clean and damp microfiber cloth to wipe off the soap or remaining vinegar or oil-jelly things.
- Step 7 – Dry’em: Now use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe off any moisture from the surface of the leather. For quick drying, if you have a hairdryer, set it to a cool and low setting and start blowing over the sandals until they’re completely dry. But it is advisable to air dry the pair overnight away from heat and sunlight.
- Step 8 – Condition’em: Finally, use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to buff the surface of your Birkenstocks. Use a commercial shoe polish in the same color as the natural or oiled leather uppers to restore and condition them. Now use a leather conditioner to keep the leather flexible.
Pro-tip: Be careful while polishing, because over-polishing may stain your Birkenstocks.
How to Clean Suede or Nubuck Birkenstocks
|Time Required||60 minutes + overnight drying|
|Difficulty Level||Easy to medium|
- Soft-bristled brush (suggested: Simple Shine / Jason Markk)
- Lint roller
- Nail file/credit card
- Ice cubes
- Blotting paper/ kitchen tissue
- Suede eraser/normal eraser (suggested: Saphir Gommadin / Kiwi Eraser)
- Suede-safe degreasing dishwashing liquid
- Kitchen scrubber/ old toothbrush
- Wet wipes/ clean microfiber cloth
- Liquid suede cleaner/rubbing alcohol (optional)
- Suede waterproofing spray (optional)
- Hair Dryer (optional)
Steps to Follow
- Step 1 – Prepare’em: Make sure you have the right materials within your reach. Also, Make sure the shoes are completely dry before cleaning the suede or nubuck Birkenstocks.
- Step 2 – Brush’em: If your suede Birkenstocks don’t have oil/paint/sticky stains, then using a lint roller or tape, gently roll over the surface of your suede/nubuck Birkenstocks. This will pick up any extra pieces of dirt and debris that may be on your sandals. Then use a suede brush to brush any residual dust and dirt. If your pair has oil/grease stains, jump to step 4. If your pair has sticky items on the upper, jump to step 5. For all other tough stains, jump to step 7.
- Step 3 – Erase’em: If you notice any minor spots on the surface of the suede, use a suede eraser or normal pencil eraser to rub on the spotty area in a circular motion until it is gone. If the spot is not gone, you need to jump to our stain removal step described below.
- Step 4 – Blot’em: If your pair has oil/grease stain on the upper and if the stain is still fresh and oil in liquid form, blot as much oil stain as possible by using a blotting paper or dry paper towel. Then sprinkle a handful of a mixture of talcum powder and corn starch/powdered white chalk on the stained area and let them sit for 30 minutes. After that wipe off the residue using wet wipes or a wet microfiber cloth.
- Step 5 – Fight Sticky: If you notice sticky elements like gum, glue or tar, etc. on your suede or nubuck upper, don’t try to wipe or gently scrub right away, this will worsen the stain on the suede. Rather wait till the sticky element is hard enough. Then take ice cubes in a cloth and apply to the sticky element to make it fully dried.
- Step 6 – Scrub’em: If the oil/sticky element stain from steps 4 and 5 has been dried and become rigid, or if any stain is still visible after the preceding methods, use a nail file/credit card to scrape away the stains. Once the residue has been removed with a wet wipe or cloth.
- Step 7- Clean’em: Now take the pre-made soap-warm water solution (for non-stain cleaning) or vinegar-baking soda paste (1:1 ratio, for stain cleaning) on a clean microfiber cloth/rag by dipping the rag. Alternatively, you can use a liquid suede cleaner or rubbing alcohol.
- Step 8 – Move Around: Now apply the cleaning solution/paste on the stained area with the moist cloth/rag and rub hard in a circular motion using fingers, but do not overdo it.
- Step 9 – Wipe-off Extra: Use a different clean and damp microfiber cloth to wipe off the soap or remaining vinegar solution.
- Step-10: Dry’em: After this, use a clean dry microfiber cloth to remove any dampness from the leather surface. If you have a hairdryer, set it on cool and low for fast drying. However, it is preferable to air dry the pair overnight in a place with no heat or sun.
- Step-11: Buff N Condition’em: Finally, use a suede brush to buff the surface of your suede/nubuck Birkenstocks. Apply suede conditioner to prolong the life of your pair
- Step 12: Waterproof’em (optional): It is obvious that you’d love your suedes to be waterproof to max possible extent too. For that, apply water and stain repellent, e.g. suede waterproofing spray (suggested – Saphir Medaille d’Or Suede Renovateur), and allow the shoes/boots to dry off completely.
- Step 13 – Store’em: Store your suede footwear in a clean, breathable box or dust bag to avoid further stains and dirt from settling on them.
Pro-tip: Always use suede safe cleaning materials to ensure suede material safety and discoloration. Try not to over-scrub suede/nubuck as it will harm the material. Also avoid dipping your pair in water.If there are a lot of stains, you might want to see your local cobbler. Professional aid may be utilized to remove stubborn stains while also taking measures to avoid recurring problems.
How to Clean Birko-Flor & Birkibuc Birkenstocks
The Birko-Flor is a polyester woven PVC-backed fabric that is lined with breathable fleece. Birkibuc has an excellent synthetic upper made of soft nubuck leather for a pleasant grip.
Here are some tips on how to clean your Birkenstocks made of Birko-Flor or Birkibuc:
- Step 1 – Check the Care Label: Always check the care label inside your footwear before starting the cleaning process. This will give you an idea about the materials used in your Birkenstocks and how to clean them without damaging them.
- Step 2 – Remove Dust and Dirt: The first step is to remove any dust and dirt from your Birkenstocks using a suede brush or a lint-free cloth. Gently brush uppers in one direction to avoid damaging the material.
- Step 3 – Gentle Wiping: Wipe away any unwanted moisture with a damp cloth if necessary, but be careful not to drench it. The material may become soggy and take some time to cool. Remove stubborn stains with a little water. Birko-Flor or Birkibuc may be altered by any cleaning or treatment.
- Step 4 – Dry the Shoes: Finally, dry the shoes using a clean cloth or a hairdryer set on cool. Avoid exposing the sandals to direct heat as it can damage the material.
How to Clean EVA Birkenstocks
EVA Birkenstocks are small, soft, and cushy products that have a very water-resistant surface that can handle any mess. Birkenstock generally designs all of these styles from top to bottom and they are usually made from rubber or synthetic materials.
Here is a guide on how to clean your EVA Birkenstocks:
Step 1 – Check the Care Label: Always double-check the care label before starting the cleaning process.
Step 2 – Dust’em: To clean your Birkenstocks, start by cleaning them with a suede brush or a lint-free cloth. To minimize damage to the material, brush uppers in one direction only.
Step 3 – Wip’em: Use a damp cloth to wipe the upper to get away any undesirable moisture.
Step 4 – Soap’em: If you’re unable to remove the spots or stains, wash them with dishwashing liquid and warm water solution to assist get rid of them quickly.
Step 5 – Remove Extra Soap: Use a clean and moist microfiber cloth to wipe the surface of the Birkenstocks to get rid of any remaining soapy solution and remove all moisture from the upper.
Step 6 – Dry’em: Dry them using a clean cloth or a hairdryer set on cool. Avoid exposing the sandals to direct heat as it can damage the material.
- You can use a Magic Eraser to get rid of tough spots and stains from your Birkenstocks.
- If you’re still struggling to remove the dirt or stains, take them to a professional cobbler for assistance.
- Always allow your Birkenstocks to dry in a cool and ventilated area.
- Avoid contact with harsh chemicals, oils, or abrasive materials as they can damage the material.
How to Clean Cork Soles of Birkenstocks
Cleaning the cork-made soles of your Birkenstocks is equally important as the uppers. Regular use will leave an impression of your feet on the cork and over time, the cork will get smelly, dirty, and will start to compress. If you don’t clean your cork-sole Birks regularly, they will become hard and uncomfortable to wear.
- To clean your cork soles, all you need is a mild soap (like dishwashing liquid – for regular cleaning), a vinegar-water solution (1:1 ratio – for harder stains), a toothbrush, and some water.
- For regular cleaning, simply add a few drops of the mild soap to some water to create a sudsy solution. Dip the toothbrush in the solution and scrub the cork sole in circular motions. Wipe the soles with clean wet wipes and allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.
- For harder stains, use vinegar-water solution instead of soap-water solution and repeat the above process.
- After the above steps, you can also use a commercial cork sealer like this one. Just follow the instructions on the product.
How to Clean Birkenstock Footbeds
The footbeds of your Birks can be cleaned using the same method as cleaning the cork soles.
If the entire footbed is really dirty and smelly, make a baking soda and lemon juice paste (1:1 ratio) and apply it to the footbed with a microfiber cloth by rubbing in a circular motion and keep it for 30 minutes. Then scrub off the solution and wipe clean the entire footbed. Allow full drying overnight.
You can also use a commercial stain repellent, suede cleaner, or EVA cleaner like this one. Just follow the instructions on the product.
Courtesy: Amber Resells
Tips for Keeping Your Birkenstocks Clean and Prolong Life
In order to keep your Birkenstocks clean and in good condition for as long as possible, there are a few things you can do:
- Avoid wearing them in dirty or wet conditions.
- If they do get wet, allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.
- Remove your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking dirt and grime inside.
- Store them in a cool, dry place when not in use.
- Keep them away from direct sunlight or heat, as this can damage the material.
- Don’t forget to regularly clean the cork soles and footbeds!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I clean my Birkenstocks if they are starting to smell?
If your Birkenstocks are starting to smell, it’s probably due to the build-up of sweat and bacteria on the surface. To get rid of the smell, simply follow the instructions above. If the problem persists, you may need to use a commercial cleaner specifically designed for removing odors from shoes.
My Birkenstocks are looking dull. How can I make them look new again?
If your Birks are looking dull, it’s likely because the uppers are made of leather or suede. These materials can be cleaned using the methods described above. You can also use a commercial leather/suede cleaner to help restore their original shine.
I spilled something on my Birkenstocks. How do I clean them?
If you spill something on your Birks, it’s important to act quickly. The sooner you treat the stain, the easier it will be to remove. First, soak up any excess liquid with a clean cloth. Then, follow the instructions above for cleaning leather or suede uppers (depending on what material your shoes are made of). If the stain persists, you may need to use a commercial cleaner specifically designed for removing stains from shoes.
My Birkenstocks are starting to fall apart. Can they be repaired?
If your Birkenstocks are starting to fall apart, it’s probably due to wear and tear. In most cases, they can be repaired by a professional shoe repair shop. However, depending on the extent of the damage, it may be more cost-effective to simply buy a new pair.
Why do Birkenstocks turn black?
If your Birkenstocks turn black, it’s likely due to the build-up of dirt and grime on the surface. To prevent this from happening, be sure to clean them regularly (at least once a month). If they do get dirty, follow the instructions above for cleaning leather or suede uppers (depending on what material your shoes are made of).
Is it OK to get Birkenstocks wet?
It’s not recommended to get Birkenstocks wet, especially if they are made of leather or suede, as this can damage the material. If they do get wet, be sure to allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.
How do you keep Birkenstock leather oiled?
If your Birkenstocks are made of leather, it’s important to keep them oiled to help protect the material. You can buy a commercial leather conditioner specifically designed for shoes, or you can use a conditioner designed for another type of leather product. Apply the conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Birkenstocks – Good Value for Money
Birkenstocks are a great investment, and with proper care, they can last for years.
Now that you know how to clean your Birkenstocks like a pro at home, there’s no need to worry about them looking dirty or dull. Just follow the simple steps outlined in this article, and your shoes will look good as new in just 60 minutes.
And don’t forget to regularly clean the cork soles and footbeds for best results.
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