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How to clean Birkenstocks so they last longer

Get your style ready for the summer! Read on to discover top tips for how to clean Birkenstocks so that your feet can enjoy the hotter days without a drop of sweat.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Picture of birkenstocks, read on to learn how to clean birkenstocks

Key steps

  • Avoid using the washing machine or dryer as it could damage your Birkenstocks.

  • Use a damp cloth to gently wipe the leather straps and clean them off.

  • Worried about Birkenstock odors? Try teabags or Birkenstock’s odor-reducing cleaner.

Birkenstocks are a great favorite, and we don't blame you if you've even worn yours right through the rainy season! With the approach of the dry season and warmer weather, it's now the perfect time to clean them. Here we’ll provide useful advice and tips on how to clean leather Birkenstocks for you to get them ready for another summer of wear!

When cleaning Birkenstocks it is important to use gentle techniques. Avoid vigorous motions or abrasive cleaners which could cause damage to this popular footwear.

How to clean Birkenstocks: FAQs answered

From how to clean moldy Birkenstocks to cleaning the footbed, here are all the answers to your questions:

  • What is a Birkenstock cleaning kit and how to use? Birkenstock’s official cleaning kit contains a leather protector, cork sealant, suede brush and a footbed cleaner. If you own one, all you need to do is follow the product’s instruction. There are, however, a few essentials which are worth having to hand if you want to create your own Birkenstock cleaning kit. These include:

    • Birkenstock’s odor-eater product

    • Teabags

    • Soft cloths

    • A soft-bristled brush

    • Detergent

    • White vinegar

  • How do I get rid of odors in my Birkenstocks? Worn your Birkenstocks so much they have started to smell? Don’t panic! Here are a couple of options for getting rid of the odor.

    • Use Birkenstock’s own ‘Cleaner and Refresher’ odor-eater product. All you need to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wipe the shoes over. Make sure to wipe them afterwards with a clean, soft cloth!

    • Here’s how to clean the soles of your Birkenstocks using teabags:

      • Place a tea bag inside and on the sole of each shoe.

      • Leave them inside for 24 hours.

      • Check your Birkenstocks, the smell should be gone!

      • If there is a lingering odor, leave them a little longer.

      • This works because the teabags attract moisture which can lead to bacteria growth and thus smells!

      • For removing the smell from other types of shoes, just check out our advice on how to remove smelly odors from shoes.

  • How to clean leather Birkenstocks?

    • A good tip is to protect your leather sandals from stains and water marks by applying Birkenstocks water and stain repellent.

    • To clean, use the suede brush to remove dirt and grime.

    • If you're dealing with stubborn stains on leather, then add a mild detergent like Surf to a warm and lightly damp cloth. Wipe throughout. But! Don’t forget to check on an inconspicuous spot first to ensure it won’t cause damage or color fade.

  • How to clean moldy Birkenstocks There is an easy home remedy for removing mold from your Birkenstocks following these steps:

    • Use a soft-bristled brush to clean the area first.

    • Mix equal parts water and white vinegar.

    • Use a soft cloth to wipe the mixture over the moldy area.

    • Use a warm, damp cloth to ‘rinse’ your Birkenstocks.

    • Allow to air dry thoroughly before wearing.

  • How do I clean the footbed areas of my Birkenstocks?

  1. First, remove visible dirt.

  2. If the visible stain is dried-in, use a damp cloth or soft-bristled brush to remove it.

  3. Don’t scrub the footbed hard, as this could damage the material.

  4. Use a suede brush to gently bring the softness back to your Birkenstock footbed.

  • Can I use a washing machine to clean my Birkenstocks? Sadly, this is not advisable! The leather straps are fragile, and the process of being tossed and turned inside the drum could cause damage to your Birkenstocks.

The Poll

Would you be more likely to buy a Cleaning or Laundry product that had a QR code visible on the pack over a product without a QR code? 

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Now you know what you need in your Birkenstock cleaning kit, how to use home products for removing odors and how to get your favorite pair of Birkenstocks shipshape! All that's left to do is enjoy the dryer season with your feet feeling fresh, stylish and clean.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on caring for Birkenstocks

Why do Birkenstocks turn black?

The nature of the materials used to make your Birkenstocks means that they turn black when exposed to oils. These oils can include the ones found in the sweat and secretion from your feet.

Are Birkenstocks waterproof?

An occasional exposure to small amounts of water should not cause too much damage but it should be avoided, as sadly, most Birkenstocks are not waterproof. To lengthen the life expectancy of your cork-bed Birkenstocks, you could treat them to a waterproofing spray.

How long can Birkenstocks last with proper care?

If you ensure that you take proper care of your Birkenstocks using the top tips and tricks for cleaning them found in this article, there is no set date for how long they will last. Take care to maintain the leather and clean the cork carefully and you will be able to enjoy your Birkenstocks for years to come. We also have guides to help you learn how to clean canvas shoes, remove odor from shoes and more, so you can take care of all your footwear with ease.

How do you clean metallic birkenstocks?

If you’re wondering how to clean metallic Birkenstocks you’ve come to the correct place. All you need to do is wipe them over with a damp cloth, taking care not to get other, more delicate, parts of the shoe too wet. Once your metallic straps are all cleaned up, the steps to clean the cork, footbed and other parts of the footwear can be found in the article above.

Originally published