How to Clean Birkenstocks Like a Pro

A pair of birkenstocks

Table of Contents

Birkenstocks are a popular choice of footwear for many, known for their comfort and durability. However, like any other type of footwear, they require proper care and maintenance to keep them looking their best. Cleaning your Birkenstocks regularly can extend their lifespan and keep them looking fresh and new. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to clean your Birkenstocks like a pro.

Understanding the Materials of Your Birkenstocks

Before you start cleaning your Birkenstocks, it’s important to understand the materials they are made from. This will help you choose the right cleaning methods and products.

Birkenstocks are typically made from two main materials: leather and cork. The leather is used for the upper part of the shoe, while the cork is used for the footbed. Both materials require different care and cleaning techniques.


Leather is a natural material that requires special care to maintain its quality and appearance. It can be damaged by water and harsh cleaning products, so it’s important to use gentle cleaning methods and products specifically designed for leather.

There are different types of leather used in Birkenstocks, including smooth leather, suede, and nubuck. Each type of leather requires a slightly different cleaning method.


The cork footbed of Birkenstocks is one of the features that make them so comfortable. However, cork can dry out over time, leading to cracks and damage. To prevent this, it’s important to regularly seal the cork with a cork sealer.

When cleaning the cork footbed, avoid soaking it in water as this can cause it to dry out and crack. Instead, use a damp cloth to gently clean the surface.

Preparing to Clean Your Birkenstocks

Before you start cleaning your Birkenstocks, gather all the necessary cleaning supplies. This will make the cleaning process easier and more efficient.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A soft cloth or sponge
  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • A soft brush (for suede and nubuck leather)
  • Leather cleaner (for smooth leather)
  • Cork sealer

Once you have all your supplies ready, you can start the cleaning process.

How to Clean Your Birkenstocks

Now that you understand the materials of your Birkenstocks and have gathered your cleaning supplies, it’s time to start cleaning. Follow these steps to clean your Birkenstocks like a pro.

Cleaning the Leather Uppers

  1. Remove any loose dirt or debris from the leather uppers with a soft cloth or sponge.
  2. If your Birkenstocks are made from smooth leather, apply a small amount of leather cleaner to a soft cloth and gently rub it into the leather. Wipe off any excess cleaner with a clean cloth.
  3. If your Birkenstocks are made from suede or nubuck, use a soft brush to gently brush away any dirt or stains. If necessary, you can use a suede cleaner to remove stubborn stains.
  4. Allow the leather to dry naturally. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a heat source as this can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

Cleaning the Cork Footbed

  1. Wipe the cork footbed with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or stains. Avoid soaking the cork in water.
  2. Allow the cork to dry naturally. Again, avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a heat source.
  3. Once the cork is dry, apply a thin layer of cork sealer to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Allow the sealer to dry before wearing your Birkenstocks.

Maintaining Your Birkenstocks

Cleaning your Birkenstocks is just one part of maintaining them. To keep your Birkenstocks looking their best, follow these additional maintenance tips:

  • Rotate your shoes: Avoid wearing the same pair of Birkenstocks every day. Rotating your shoes allows them to air out and reduces the wear and tear on them.
  • Store them properly: When not in use, store your Birkenstocks in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will prevent the leather and cork from drying out and cracking.
  • Condition the leather: Regularly condition the leather uppers with a leather conditioner to keep them soft and supple.
  • Replace worn parts: If the soles or footbeds of your Birkenstocks become worn, consider having them replaced rather than buying a new pair. This will extend the lifespan of your shoes and save you money in the long run.

With regular cleaning and proper maintenance, your Birkenstocks can last for many years. So, take the time to care for your Birkenstocks and they’ll continue to provide you with comfort and style.

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