Introduction: How to Clean Birkenstocks

Picture of How to Clean Birkenstocks

This is a guide on how to clean the footbed of Birkenstock sandals. Birkenstocks are made of leather and cork, and need to be maintained in a specific way to keep your shoes looking and feeling good.This is an instructions set for Birkenstock owners that want to keep their shoes clean and not waste too much time in the process. Cleaning should take around an hour and then the shoes will dry overnight, so you will be back to strolling around in your sandals in no time! This is a basic process, but additional tips about cleaning the leather straps are included at the end.

Step 1: Obtain Materials

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First, collect all the items necessary for cleaning. These are:

  • Your Birkenstocks
  • An old toothbrush
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Cup and spoon for mixing
  • Cloth rag

If desired, included at the end are some additional instructions on cleaning your leather straps. For this you will need:

  • Leather cleaner, I recommend the brand Leather Honey, found at this link
  • Water
  • Cup and spoon for mixing
  • Cloth

After you have gathered these items you are ready to begin.

Step 2: Prepping

Picture of Prepping

Next, you will prep your sandals by dampening the cloth and wiping off the excess dirt on your footbed. Unstrap sandals. Use circular motions and try not to use an excess amount of water. The footbed will get very dark, as seen in the picture.

Step 3: Form Paste

Picture of Form Paste

After your Birkenstocks are slightly wet, we are going to mix the baking soda and water to make a cleaning paste. Combine 2 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of water in a small cup. Mix until a paste forms that is about the consistency of a hair gel.

Step 4: Cleaning

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Now, use the old toothbrush to apply the paste to the footbed of your sandal. The paste should be similar to a soup consistency. The white paste may turn brown, but that just means it’s working! Again, use circular motions with your toothbrush to work the paste into the shoe. Make sure to focus on the heavy-wear areas, like around the toes. You will have some of your paste left over, but this can be used at a later time.

Step 5: Remove Excess Paste

Grab your cloth and re-wet again if necessary. When it is damp, use the cloth the wipe off the baking soda paste.

Step 6: Drying

Once the paste is cleaned off, place your Birkenstocks in a dry, dark place to let them fully dry. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight because that may cause your sandals to crack. Allow them to sit overnight before wearing them again. Once fully dry, you are ready to put them back on.

Step 7: Optional Additional Cleaning

If desired, leather cleaner can be applied to the straps on your sandals in order to get them to really shine. This is a great way to do a full restoration on your shoes. The leather on top of your shoes get exposed to lots of sunlight and dust, and are at risk of drying out. The leather cleaner helps to moisturize, seal, and protect your straps.

Step 8: Leather Cleaner Materials

Picture of Leather Cleaner Materials

After materials are collected, you will need to mix the leather cleaner with water if using the Leather Honey in the link. This is a concentrated leather cleaner. For my straps, I used ½ tbsp of leather cleaner and 4 ½ tbsp of water to make a small amount of cleaner.

Step 9: Apply Leather Cleaner

Picture of Apply Leather Cleaner

Now, apply a dime-sized amount of leather cleaner mixture onto your dry cloth. Use circular motions to moisturize the leather on your sandals. Continue to rub until you notice a shine on the straps. Be careful not to over-saturate the leather. You will have some of your cleaner mixture left over. This can be kept for the next cleaning session.

Step 10: Finished Product

After you are all done, your shoes should be looking years younger, and smelling better too!


DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-10-27

These are some great footwear. Properly taken care of they can last a long time.

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