How to Clean Birkenstocks

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Introduction: How to Clean Birkenstocks

This guide describes 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 instruction set can be helpful for Birkenstock owners that want to keep their shoes clean without wasting 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! First, I will walk you through the cleaning process, but additional tips about polishing the leather straps are included at the end.

Step 1: Obtain Materials

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

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

The materials required for polishing the straps include:

  • 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

Next, prep your sandals by dampening the cloth and wiping off the excess dirt from the 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 above.

Step 3: Form Paste

After your Birkenstocks are damp, mix the tablespoons of 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. The paste should be similar to a glue consistency.

Step 4: Cleaning

Now, use the old toothbrush to apply the paste to the footbed of your sandal. 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. You will have some of your paste left over, but this can be reused for future cleanings.

Step 5: Remove Excess Paste

Grab your cloth and re-wet again if necessary. Use the damp cloth to wipe off the baking soda paste.

Step 6: Drying

Once the paste is removed, 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

As an optional final step, 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

After materials are collected, you will need to mix the leather cleaner with water if using the Leather Honey found in the link. This is a concentrated leather cleaner, so you will need to dilute it.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

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 oversaturate 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!

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    6 Discussions

    Help! I obviously didn’t read everything and put my daughters shoes in the sun to dry for a few hours! Now the foot bed is very dry and rough! I rewet them and have them drying in a cool dry place, but is there anything more I can do to restore the softness of the footbed?

    3 more answers

    Thanks, I did actually rewet them and have let them dry inside and they seem about 90% better!

    I’m going to try getting them wet again even tho Iv put mink oil on them

    I got a nice used pair of Berks on line. It freaked me out I was walking on someone else’s foot greese so I scrubbed the foot bed with dish soap and a small scrubbing brush. I didn’t know I couldn’t let them dry in the sun. They dried nicely problem is now the foot bed is all dried out. I put mink oil on the foot beds but still seems dry. What’s the best way to restore the leather foot bed so it’s soft?

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