7 Tips For Cleaning Your Birkenstocks

They’ll make your favorite pair look brand new.

Originally Published: 
Here are 7 tips for cleaning Birkenstocks, from the footbed to the toes.
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Birkenstocks are enjoying a major resurgence as of late, in case you haven't noticed. If they're here to stay, which I think they are, it's best to know how to clean your Birkenstocks so they can be worn for years to come.

Why are they worth the investment? Well, the sandals offer major arch support and they adapt to the shape of your foot, so they're unbelievably comfortable. They come in a variety of styles from classic brown or black leather and raffia straw, to metallic gold or dressed-up satin. And as a street style favorite, their super versatile, pairing well with denim, sun dresses, and even suits.

You can opt for a high-fashion version like a logo-heavy Valentino pair, or choose a casual navy suede style and let your outfit take the spotlight. The options are truly endless.

Like any shoe you wear on the regular, Birkenstocks look best when you give them some regular attention. So, you’ll want to adapt a regular cleaning routine to keep them in tip top shape. Trust me: no one wants to go around wearing shoes with a sweaty imprint of their foot on them. These 7 easy tricks will help you keep your Birkenstocks looking brand new.

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1. Wipe them out regularly to clear dirt and grass

The easiest ways to keep your Birkenstocks looking nice is to ensure you don't get dirt in the footbed, which can cause discoloration. Use a damp cloth to wipe them out every few weeks. If you're in muddy or grassy areas, be sure to clean off your Birkenstocks as soon as you get home. If you do this before you go to bed, they should be dry by morning.

2. Use a DIY cleaning method to scrub out stains

Luckily, it's pretty easy to clean your Birkenstocks at home using a simple paste of baking soda or Borax and water. You probably have baking soda sitting at home already, or you can find Borax in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store.

Combine either powder with a small amount of water, just enough to form a paste. Rub a quarter of the paste into the footbed of one shoe. After using your hands to spread the paste, use an old toothbrush to really ramp up the cleaning power.

Gently scrub the paste into the footbed using circular motions. Rinse the paste with water then repeat on the other shoe. Apply the rest of the paste to your shoes then leave it to sit overnight. The next morning, rinse your shoes once more. Once they dry, your Birkenstocks will be noticeably cleaner.

3. Never dry them in direct sunlight

According to the Birkenstock care page on the company's website, heat is the enemy of your shoes. Direct heat can cause cracks and may make your Birkenstocks deteriorate faster. After cleaning them, be sure to dry them in a cool place away from windows and doors. This is the best way to ensure your shoes' longevity.

It's tempting to put them in the dryer to speed things up, but that's another no-no. Plan to clean your shoes on a day you know you won't want to wear them, and give them at least 24 hours to dry completely.

4. Dry Suede Birkenstocks before cleaning

Before cleaning any pair of suede Birkenstocks, make sure that they are fully dry before rubbing out any unwanted messes. That way, you won’t further ruin the material while trying to remove dirt and grime.

5. Use a suede brush

For suede Birkenstocks, after letting them completely dry, use a gentle suede brush to kick out any dirt or stain. Brush in the direction of the grain, which will slowly remove any caked-on dirt. For scuffs, try a suede eraser, which is not altogether different from a pencil eraser, if that proves more convenient to use.

6. Try cornstarch

For oil stains, dab a bit of cornstarch on your Birkenstocks and let them sit for a few hours. The powder will slowly absorb the oil from the material, which can be brushed away with a suede brush. If the cornstarch needs a bit more time, you might want to try this method a second time over.

7. Use white vinegar

For a persistent stain, consider using white vinegar. Dab a small amount on the stain with a microfiber cloth and rub it gently. You want to dampen the material on your Birkenstocks, not completely soak it. Let the shoes dry completely and try it again if the stain persists.

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