How do you clean dirty Birkenstocks?

Once you got your new pair of Birkenstock, for sure, you would want to maintain them so they would always look brand new. But because of frequent usage outdoors, they may get dirty due to dust, stains, and smudges. Thus, this calls for gentle cleaning!

Cleaning dirty Birkenstocks requires you to first identify the material used in the footwear. If it is leather, it is best to do polishing for brightening and conditioning. For suede and nubuck, you should be extra delicate when cleaning their sanded, grainy sides. If it is made out of fabric, using a cleaning solution is ideal.

The different ways of cleaning your dirty Birkenstocks depending on the type of material used are detailed below. If you are still lost about what to do, this article got you covered! This blog is guaranteed to help you make your Birkenstock look brand new again.

Things You Need for Cleaning Dirty Birkenstocks 

Birkenstock Gizeh Soft Footbed Supernatural Flower Navy Birko-Flor™ 36 (US Women's 5-5.5) Regular

Birkenstock Gizeh Women's Sandals

You only need a few things when cleaning your dirty Birkenstocks. More often than not, you can find them readily available at your home. Here are the items you'll need:

  • Medium-sized soft-bristled brush: If you only need to remove visible and dry dirt, this may come in handy. Just make sure that its bristles are delicately soft and gentle enough to prevent your Birkenstocks from having scratches.
  • Old toothbrush: Stubborn stains on your Birkenstocks might be too troublesome for you. For targeted angling, a smaller version of a brush, like an old toothbrush, is advisable. Just be mindful of not scraping too hard!
  • Soft, smooth-textured cloth: For a gentler option, this is a great alternative. If you are afraid of damaging the surface of your Birkenstock, this is great to use, especially if you just want to remove minor dirt.
  • Soap or cleaning detergent: The chemical solutions in these items will surely take off many kinds of dirt. Remember to use ones that are suitable for cleaning footwear.
  • 2-3 bowls of clean water: Some dirt just needs to be softened and dissolved. Water can help you with this problem.

How do you clean dirty Birkenstocks?

Birkenstock London Sandcastle Suede Leather R 42 R EU

Birkenstock London Women's Shoes

Not all Birkenstocks are made using the same materials. Birkenstock is innovative enough to offer you many options to choose from. However, the tradeoff is that not every cleaning solution applies to all footwear variants. Do not worry, though, because we got you covered!

Leather Birkenstocks

Leather is a complex footwear material. It is a popular choice for making durable products, but it is delicate to take care of at the same time. The key reminder is that polishing leather is a great way to always keep your leather Birkenstocks looking brand new.

  • Wipe off all the visible dirt (e.g., soil and dust). A slightly damped cloth is effective enough to remove dirt. This is because using a brush may cause scratches on the leather. Be gentle when applying pressure, too, as it may alter the shape of the footwear. 
  • Use a shoe polish or conditioner to give your Birkenstock extra protection. Both natural and oiled types of leather need polishing that matches the color. This will prevent too much scuffing, especially if it got soaked in rain. Remember to only apply enough as it may create stains.
  • For brightening patent leather, you can use glass cleaner or petroleum jelly on a soft cloth. If your Birkenstock is looking extra dull and dry, bringing back the shine of the film coating is recommended. Apply it using a dabbing motion only.

Suede and Nubuck Birkenstocks

Suede and nubuck are leathers, too, but these deserve a separate discussion as they require different care. Since both have a grainy and sanded side, you have to be delicate when cleaning them. Otherwise, its texture can be damaged that, in effect, can create patches.

  • Gently brush away the dirt on the surface. Since suede and nubuck have uneven surfaces, it is advisable to first use a soft microfiber cloth to lift the dirt. Once done, you can use a brush, preferably an old toothbrush, to take them off. Do this carefully to prevent damaging the grainy texture.
  • When the stain is wet, like mud, let it dry first before rubbing it away. Immediately rubbing away the wet dirt will only cause more damage as it will be forcibly pushed into the gaps in the surface. After drying, use a rubber or a pencil eraser to lightly rub away the dirt. 
  • In case of oily stains, cover them with powder to absorb all the oil. This can be in the form of cornstarch or baby powder. Before taking it off, let it stay for a minimum of 4 hours. You may redo this step when needed.
  • If the dirt is sticky, such as gum, dab it with an ice cube in plastic to harden it before scraping it away. Forcibly removing it while still sticky can spread the stain even more. Once it hardens, get a pointy object, like the tip of a knife, to scrape it away.

Fabric Birkenstocks

The classic fabric footwear by Birkenstock is a bestseller. You can never go wrong with buying at least a pair. However, this is not dirt-proof. In terms of fabric as a material, it is best to use a cleaning solution in the form of soap or liquid detergent mixed with clean water to effectively remove dirt.

  • Remove the visible dirt first by using either a soft cloth or a brush with gentle bristles. Fabrics can endure being rubbed or brushed delicately. This is ideal before dealing with the particular stains you want to clean.
  • Prepare a cleaning solution. Fabric Birkenstocks are not waterproof which makes them capable of absorbing cleaning solutions. To make one, you can mix ½ teaspoon of liquid shoe detergent and 2 cups of lukewarm water. In place of the former, a gentle soap will also do. Make sure to mix them well.
  • To target stains, spot-clean them using a soft cloth dipped into the cleaning solution. Rub it to the fabric in slow motion, following toward where the grains are directed. Remember to not overdo this as you might damage the color and grains of the fabric. Do not apply too much force as well.
  • If the stains are too stubborn to take off, purchase a heavy-duty laundry stain remover. Although this should not be your immediate option, this can be your last resort. Just be careful, though, not to apply too much because it may cause discoloration. For more angled precision, use an old toothbrush.
  • Rinse and let it completely dry before wearing it again. You do not have to submerge your Birkenstock underwater. Just get a soft cloth, and dip it in clean water. Rub it on the fabric carefully. To remove moisture, you can also blot it using a paper tissue, then let it air-dry only, not under direct sunlight.

How do you clean the cork soles on Birkenstocks?

Birkenstock New Women's Mayari Slide Sandal Dove Blue/Mineral Nubuck 37 R

Birkenstock Mayari Women's Sandals

Your Birkenstocks should be cleaned inside and out. This includes the cork soles and footbeds. As much as wearing socks prevents your footwear from getting dirty, the sweat and oil from your feet create footprint-like stains that are difficult to remove. But fret not because these, too, can be cleaned!

  • Prepare a cleaning solution. ½ teaspoon of liquid shoe detergent or a gentle soap combined with 2 cups of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar can already suffice. Mix them all well.
  • Scrub the cork sole using a brush with soft bristles or an old toothbrush. Wet the brush of your choice with the cleaning solution, and gently scrub in a circular, slow motion. This will prevent creating little scratches on the cork sole. 
  • Rinse using a damped clean cloth, and let it dry before using it again. Be mindful to wipe away the remaining residue. Do not do it too hard because the cork may be deformed when used with great force. In terms of drying, putting it under direct sunlight is not recommended. Air-drying it in an open space will do.
  • Polish the cork sole by applying an ample amount of cork sealant. This is highly recommended if it is looking very dry and dull. Cork sealants effectively enhance the coating of the cork, reviving its flexibility and shine like when it was first bought. 

How often should you clean Birkenstocks?

Ideally, you should regularly clean your Birkenstocks every three to four weeks. This gives your Birkenstocks enough time to breathe after being cleaned and to get exposed and worn outside. Remember that cleaning them too often can cause more harm than good. It can lead to the disintegration of materials, especially if used with detergents.

Of course, take note of how often you use your Birkenstocks. If daily, you might need to clean them sooner, like every two weeks. Just be careful not to overdo it. But if only a few days a week, you might want to take a long time before cleaning them again.

Ways to Keep Your Birkenstocks Looking Great Longer

The premium quality that Birkenstock offers its consumers is truly incomparable. You will get what you pay for. But of course, you should also do your part in preserving its beauty longer than expected.

  • Do not expose your Birkenstock to extreme temperature changes. Footwear is sensitive to temperature, particularly the materials used in production. Avoid leaving it outside your house. This can quickly deteriorate its original quality. Store it in a spacious area at your home.
  • Do away with placing your Birkenstock under direct sunlight to let it dry. Air-drying is always the best way to dry your footwear. Whatever material your Birkenstock is made of, too much heat from sunlight can cause many problems, such as discoloration, patches, and scuffing.
  • Do not let your Birkenstock have prolonged exposure to water. Not all Birkenstocks are made waterproof. Depending on the material (e.g., fabric), they can still absorb water that is not good over time. Permanent wrinkling can be a serious problem.
  • Let your Birkenstock breathe and take a break from frequent use. Treat it like a human being. It needs rest as well after a long day. This will keep your Birkenstock intact and compact. Overusing it might just accelerate its deterioration, causing an uncomfortable feeling in your feet

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you clean Birkenstocks with vinegar?

Birkenstock Arizona Women Two Strap Sandal, Dusty Blue, 10/10.5 US

Birkenstock Arizona Sandals

Yes, vinegar is an effective cleaning agent, especially if you are dealing with moldy Birkenstocks. Just mix equal parts of lukewarm water and vinegar, then spot-clean the parts where mold is present using a soft cloth. Rinse gently, and let it dry. This is a quick fix as vinegar can be easily found in your kitchen.

Can you use baking soda to clean Birkenstocks?

Similar to vinegar, baking soda can also be used to clean dirty Birkenstocks, preferably leather and their cork soles. Create a paste by combining baking soda and water. Apply a little amount on the dirty area, then leave it overnight. Rinse and dry it in the morning.

Can Birkenstocks be washed? 

Washing Birkenstocks, especially submerging underwater, is not advisable. This may cause more damage like scuffing. Wetting a soft cloth, soft-bristled brush, or old toothbrush, among others, with water is already enough.

How can I extend the life of my Birkenstock?

Clean your Birkenstock regularly by using the right cleaning agents and procedures. Take into consideration what your footwear needs. Know the type of material and stains that need to be cleaned. Also, exposure to extreme temperatures is not advisable.

Clean dirty Birkenstocks, Final Thoughts

Birkenstock is perhaps one of the footwear brands dedicated to bringing the best quality products to consumers. And of course, you would want to preserve how the product was when you first purchased it, right? To do this, cleaning it well is the key.

Cleaning dirty Birkenstocks is a bit challenging. But as long as you know the proper ways to go with it, rest assured that nothing will go wrong. This includes knowing the right cleaning agents you need and the type of Birkenstock you have.

Now, go ahead and start cleaning your Birks!

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