Dirt and stains on your Birkenstocks can 100 percent ruin the vibe. These trendy shoes are a fashion staple; they go with pretty much any outfit!
That’s why we aim to keep them clean. Are you ready to see some incredible before and after results with your beloved Birkenstocks?
We’ll share how often you should clean them, as well as a step-by-step method for how to clean Birkenstocks. This includes the footbed, the soles, suede shoes, leather shoes, and fabric Birkenstocks. Consider this your ultimate one-stop guide.
- Clean Birkenstock footbeds with a baking soda and vinegar paste, scrubbing with an old toothbrush and wiping with a damp cloth.
- For suede Birkenstocks, use a suede brush and eraser, while leather straps need a leather eraser, cleaner, and conditioner.
- Fabric Birkenstocks can be cleaned with a cloth dampened in warm soapy water, and stubborn stains can be treated with a stain remover.
- Protect your Birkenstocks by cleaning them regularly, treating stains promptly, and conditioning leather straps to keep them in good condition.
How Often Should You Clean Birkenstocks?
You should be cleaning your Birkenstocks footbed every few weeks. As for the rest of the shoes, we recommend cleaning them whenever necessary but at least twice a year. If you wear them often or expose them to sunlight, you may want to clean and condition them monthly.
How to Clean Birkenstocks Footbed and Cork Soles
You can clean the footbed and cork soles using vinegar and baking soda every few weeks. This easy and eco-friendly cleaning hack will keep your shoe stain- and odor-free.
- Time: 20 minutes (plus waiting and drying time)
- Difficulty: Easy
What You’ll Need
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Toothbrush or soft-bristled cleaning brush
- Cloth or rag
1. Remove Dirt
Use your cloth to wipe down the footbed and soles to remove surface-level dirt and debris. This will make the following steps easier.
2. Make a Paste
Mix equal parts of baking soda and distilled white vinegar together in a bowl until you’ve created a paste. You may need to adjust the quantities slightly.
3. Apply and Scrub
Apply the paste to the footbed and soles using an old toothbrush or cleaning brush. Then gently scrub the paste in circular motions to lift dirt, stains, and grime. Rinse and repeat.
Then reapply the paste to the footbed and soles. Leave it overnight. In the morning, rinse the shoes again.
4. Air Dry
Leave the shoes to air dry. Keep them out of direct heat and sunlight. It might take up to 24 hours for the shoes to dry thoroughly.
If you want to stick to Birkenstocks’s own advice, they will tell you to use their own Cleaner & Refresher spray before wiping it off with a cloth. However, that’s a lot pricier than using household items like vinegar and baking soda.
How to Clean Suede Birkenstocks
Depending on what kind of Birkenstocks you have, you’ll need to adjust your cleaning plan accordingly. This method is for suede Birkenstocks which requires a specific suede brush.
- Time: 45 minutes (plus waiting time)
- Difficulty: Intermediate
What You’ll Need
- Suede brush
- Suede eraser or pencil eraser
- Suede cleaner or white vinegar (optional)
- Cloth (optional)
1. Brush Off Dirt
With suede (and nubuck leather) Birkenstocks, start by rubbing off dust and dirt using your suede brush. These brushes are gentle on suede materials, so using one of these over a generic cleaning brush is crucial.
You can dampen the brush slightly to clean the straps. The straps are exposed to bacteria and sweat, so a bit of water can help the cleaning process. Make sure you open the straps to clean both sides properly.
2. Erase Old Stains
Stains on suede are pretty tricky to remove, especially if they’re old and dry. If you dampened your shoes in the earlier step, wait until they’re completely dry. Otherwise, it makes removing the stain even harder.
Once the shoes are dry, brush the stained areas with a suede eraser or pencil eraser. Continue until the stain has lifted. Brush the shoes again with your suede brush to lift the fabric.
3. Remove Oily Stains
It’s easy to get oil on your Birkenstocks. Whether it’s body oils, lotion oils, or cooking oils, these stains can be tough to remove. But cornstarch can work wonders.
Cover the stain with cornstarch and leave it for up to four hours. Brush it off. Repeat if necessary.
4. Shampoo the Shoes (Optional)
If your shoes are begging for extra cleaning power, then it’s a good idea to use a suede cleaner. These cleaners are specifically for suede shoes, so they won’t cause damage. Follow the packaging instructions for application. This will usually involve mixing the shampoo with a little bit of water and applying it with your suede brush.
If you can’t access a suede cleaner, you can swap it out for distilled white vinegar. Simply mix a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water and apply the solution to the shoes, scrubbing gently with a suede brush. For stained areas, blot, don’t scrub!
5. Rinse the Shoes (Optional)
Once you’ve cleaned the shoes with your suede shampoo or white vinegar, wipe them down with a damp cloth. Let the shoes air dry completely out of direct sunlight. It could take 24 hours.
How to Clean Leather Birkenstocks
Let’s get into the cleaning method for leather shoes. We recommend a specific leather cleaner that can clean your shoes as well as hydrate and protect them.
You might want to invest in the Birkenstocks’ Deluxe Shoe Care Kit, which has everything you need for this method.
- Time: 20 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
What You’ll Need
- Leather cleaning brush
- Leather eraser
- Leather cleaning solution
- Soft cloths
- Leather conditioner or vaseline
1. Brush and Erase the Leather
Start by brushing the leather parts with your leather brush. This will remove excess dirt and debris. Once you’ve completed that, use the leather eraser to remove some old stains. Continue until you notice the stains have lifted. Brush again to remove any eraser shavings.
2. Apply Leather Cleaner
Apply a little leather cleaner onto your soft cloth and rub it into the leather in gentle circular motions. Continue all over the leather. If you feel you’ve applied a little too much, remove excess with a dry cloth.
3. Condition the Leather
It’s crucial to condition the leather, too. This keeps it moisturized, soft, stain-free and avoids any cracks. Apply the leather cleaner to your soft cloth and gently moisturize the leather in circular motions.
If you want to save money on a leather conditioner, you can use vaseline instead. Just be aware that this can darken the leather, so it’s not the best option for light leather. Always test in an inconspicuous spot.
After you’ve conditioned the leather, wipe the shoes with a soft cloth to remove any excess conditioner.
4. Leave to Dry
Before wearing the sandals again, leave them for around 24 hours until the cleaner and conditioner have dried onto the sandal.
How to Clean Fabric Birkenstocks
Last but not least, we’ll show you how to clean your fabric sandals without baking soda. Birkenstocks make linen canvas, microfiber, and wool felt shoes. This method is suitable for those types.
- Time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
What You’ll Need
- Soft-bristled brush
- Dish soaps
- Stain remover
1. Brush Excess Dirt
Use your soft-bristled brush to remove surface-level dust and debris.
2. Spot Clean
In a bowl, mix two cups of warm water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Dampen a cloth into the solution and rub the stained parts of your shoes. Be gentle, and don’t apply too much water to the fabric. We also recommend working in the direction of the fabric grain to maintain the lovely look of your shoes.
For Metallic Birkenstocks
If you have metallic Birkenstocks, they are made with Birko-flor material. You can clean them using this method before wiping them with a damp cloth. Just make sure not to use step number three on metallic Birkenstocks.
3. Deal With Stubborn Stains
If the above step didn’t tackle all your stains, you could try spot cleaning extra stains with your favorite laundry stain remover. Gently scrub it in with your soft-bristled brush, and leave for 15 minutes before wiping with a damp cloth.
4. Rinse and Dry
Dampen a cloth in warm water and wipe down the shoes to rinse. Make sure you wipe off all of the soapy residues.
Blot the shoes with a separate dry cloth. Air dry the shoes out of direct heat and sunlight.
How to Get Stains Out of Birkenstocks
Let’s talk about how to remove various stains from your shoes. This includes oil, water, and more.
- Oil Stains: Cornstarch is our go-to here. Apply a little cornstarch directly to the stain and leave it for four hours. Brush the cornstarch out. Repeat if necessary.
- Water Stains: Tackle water stains as soon as you notice them by blotting them with a towel. Let the shoes air dry. If the stain is older, dampen a cloth in some white vinegar and blot the stain. Continue for 5-10 minutes to lift the stain. Let it air dry. Repeat if necessary.
- Sweat Stains: Mixing baking soda with vinegar is great for removing sweat stains and tackling smells. This method also works for more persistent stains that your cornstarch or white vinegar didn’t remove.
- Caked-On Surface Stain: If you have a textured stain that you can’t remove with your cloth, but it’s only on the surface, your shoe brush will help. Use the appropriate brush according to your shoe’s material type.
- Gum and Tar Stains: Place an ice cube in a bag and apply it to the gum or tar stain. Let it harden before using a blunt knife or the edge of a credit card to scrape off the hard residue. Repeat if necessary. Brush the shoes afterward to lift the fibers.
- Winter Salt Stains: Make a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar. Dampen a cloth in the solution and wipe the shoe gently.
Tips For Protecting Birkenstocks
You want your Birkenstocks to last for years to come. After all, these shoes are never going out of style. Consider some of these care tips to protect your shoes:
- Birkenstocks’ own cleaning kit: While it’s another thing to add to your shopping list, it’s specifically designed for your shoes. This cleaning kit contains a cleaner and refresher spray, cork sealer, and a water and stain repellant.
- Clean regularly: We recommend cleaning the footbed and soles every few weeks. They get dirty quickly since you wear Birkenstocks without socks. Aim to deep clean the straps and the other parts of the shoes at least twice a year.
- Avoid extreme temperatures: Don’t wear your Birkenstocks in freezing cold weather or scalding hot weather. Keep them for mild days only.
- Avoid water: Too much water can damage your Birkenstocks. Don’t bring them to the beach, and try to avoid wearing them on rainy days. Too much water can ruin the suede or leather. Plus, it can loosen the glue in the shoe.
- Test cleaners first: Whether you’re cleaning with vinegar or a commercial leather cleaner, always test the cleaner in an inconspicuous spot first. This could be the inside side of the strap. If you notice stains or discoloration, try a different cleaner instead.
When you invest in these shoes and sandals, you’re in it for the long haul. They should last for many years, both in terms of longevity but also style.
We’ve walked you through how to clean Birkenstocks footbed and soles, as well as leather, fabric, and suede options. Now you can start cleaning your Birkenstocks at home to keep your shoes in mint condition.