Apr 01, 2023

A guide on how to clean Birkenstocks

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Have you got a pair of beloved Birkenstocks that have seen better days? It's time to finally learn how to clean Birkenstocks once and for all.

Known for their high-quality natural materials, effortless style and all-around comfort, Birkenstock sandals have long been considered a gal's go-to sandals when the sun comes out.

But if you wear them non-stop without any maintenance, they've probably seen their fair share of wear and tear, tough stains and are showing signs of extensive use.

So, if you're wondering how to clean Birkenstocks and restore them back to their former glory, keep reading.

Read more: Our favourite sandals of the season

So, just how do you clean dirty Birkenstocks? You’ll need a Birkenstock cleaning kit, or a few key products at hand. A brush, an old toothbrush, leather soap and water are all you need to breathe new life into your Birkenstock sandals, according the the Birkenstock website.

While it may seem like a major project, cleaning a pair of worn-out Birks, what avid Birkenstock-wearers sometimes call the shoe, is actually quite simple once you have the right tools.

It is not unusual for the outside and straps of your Birks to show tough stains, dirt and oily marks. However, don't worry, there's an easy solution in tow.

A simple brush or cloth is a quick and easy way to get rid of dirt and surface stains on the straps and outside of your shoes.

Nubuck suede or leather Birkenstocks (which are sanded down for a smoother finish) are best cleaned with a simple brush.

Made with pure bristles, this gentle buffing set will quickly get rid of dried-up dirt or residue without leaving any scratches or marks on your sandals.

Prior to deep cleaning, do an initial once-over with the brush to remove any lighter and easier stains off the sandals.

If you’ve got a lovely pair of natural smooth leather sandals to show some TLC, a damp cloth and some lukewarm water will do the trick.

Despite their low price, these durable microfibre cloths pack a powerful punch when it comes to their cleaning power. With a small amount of water, they lift and remove dirt, residue and moisture.

You can also use these clothes to give your Birkenstocks a final wipe-down leaving your sandals polished and spick and span.

Then, pop the clothes in the wash so they're good as new for your next cleaning session.

Once you have removed excess dirt and debris from the outside of your shoe, it's time for a deeper clean.

Use a small toothbrush and an effective shampoo to next tackle dirty footbeds.

To get rid of off-putting stains Birkenstocks are prone to, mix a bowl of water with the leather soap we recommend below and massage the solution using circular motions with your toothbrush.

Once you’ve given the footbeds of your shoes a good scrub, wipe clean with the cloth we suggested in the previous step.

As the footbed of your sandals is most vulnerable to discolouration and visible build-up of oil and dirt, you must use a cleansing solution that can tackle as well as lift surface dust or dirt.

This saddle soap is one you can count on.

For obvious reasons, you shouldn't use your everyday toothbrush to clean your sandals. So if you’re a dedicated sandal-wearer, keep a spare soft toothbrush on hand for cleaning.

Made of natural bamboo with castor-infused bristles, this sustainable toothbrush is easy on the environment and will get your shoes clean in no time.

The secret to getting rid of lingering smells and bacteria on Birkenstock footbeds is baking soda. It's the easiest ‘how to clean Birkenstocks footbeds to knock out odours’ trick in the book.

Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water and apply it to the footbed of your sandal in circular motions.

For tougher stains and stronger smells, you can leave the baking soda overnight and then wipe it off with a damp microfiber cloth before allowing it to completely air dry.

You truly can't go wrong with Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. Having been around since 1846, it's cheap, trusted and gets the job done. So much so, it's received a 4.4-star rating on Amazon and more than 8,700 reviews.

In other words, why wouldn't you trust it to care for your favourite Birks?

After brushing, wiping and hand washing, it's important to let your sandals naturally dry for at least 24 hours before you wear them to prevent any dampness. Then, as soon as it's dry, use a protective spray to give your sandals an extra layer of protection before you go outside.

When it comes to protecting your sandals, these two sprays are solid choices to get the job done.

Designed to clean and protect the exterior of shoes, this spray draws out any remaining dirt and creates a waterproof layer to protect your shoes. Oh, and it's suitable for Nubuck, smooth and other leathers.

Simply spray a fair dose on the outside of your shoes before buffing it in with a clean, dry cloth.

You'll need to tread a bit more carefully if your sandals are made from natural leather and this restore and polish set will do just that.

This tin contains 100% natural pure British Beeswax, which will moisturise, nourish and protect your Birks, but it can also be used for any leather accessories that are made of natural leather, not suede or Nubuck.

With this polish in tow, you can treat cracks, remove grease and residue and give your sandals an extra couple of years of life.

Designed to handle more delicate materials like suede, this 2-in-1 kit will provide gentle but effective care for your beloved sandals. Inside you'll find a soft handmade beech wood brush for cleaning the nap of your shoes and a shoe stain eraser for spot cleaning tough stains.

With over 2,000 reviews and a solid 4.3 rating, it's clear that this cleaning kit gets the job done.

While much more affordable in the US, if Birkenstock's own cleaning essentials are the only product you trust, you can shop the brand's cleaning kit on Amazon.

So, what's inside this kit?

Featuring a clean and refresh spray for removing odours, a water and stain repellent for protection against stains, a cork sealer for protection against small cracks, a leather brush to refresh suede and nubuck, this kit comes with all of the essentials to properly take care and pamper your sandals.

If you're looking to polish your shoes to perfection, then this is the set you'll need.

With two bristle brushes for cleaning, a dauber brush for buffing, black and neutral polishes, as well as a polishing cloth for extra shine and glow, this set will leave your shoes looking as good as new.

Although these polishes aren't Birk-approved, they are a great option for those who want a more versatile shoe cleaning kit.

Designed to seal and protect cork, often used in the soles of Birkenstocks and other sandals, this spray does exactly what it says on the tin.

With just one application, this treatment will keep your shoes protected from dirt and stains with ease and helps prevent any brittleness or breaking due to dried-out cork.

But if you’re looking for a treatment that is specially made for Birk sandals, Birkenstock has their own cork sealant that is a little more expensive but equally effective.

Great for getting the job done, this cherry blossom brush set is exactly what you need for showing your Birks a bit of care.

With its synthetic yet durable bristles, it makes cleaning, dusting and buffing easy as ever.

To begin with, Birkenstocks turning black on their soles are actually quite normal so there's nothing to worry about.

Darker or black soles are usually just signs of frequent use and excessive oil, sweat and dirt buildup, all of which can be thoroughly cleaned.


Ideally, you should clean the outside of your Birkenstocks after every few wears if you want them to retain their colour, reduce the chance of fading and keep them looking brand new.

But we must admit, it's easier said than done.

So, even if you've been neglecting your sandals, there's still hope for them to be restored to as good as new.

All you need to do is learn how to clean Birkenstocks like a pro at home.

While a little water or rain will not damage your sandals, we don't recommend running them through the washing machine or dosing them in a large amount of water, as it can damage the sole material.

In case your sandals do become wet or damp, ensure they are completely dry before wearing them.

Now we've shown you how to clean Birkenstocks and all the products you'll need.

To recap, it only takes a little TLC and some leather soap, a trusty brush and an extra toothbrush to breathe new life into your old or worn-out sandals.

So, the only thing left is to get down and dirty cleaning some Birkenstocks!

Prices updated on 29/05/2023. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

A self-proclaimed ‘obsessed TikTok user,’ Lauren Pascal uses her knowledge to help readers shop for trendy new products. Lauren is also an experienced travel writer and recently wrote informative pieces for travellers during the pandemic.