FASHION Shoes and Accessories

How to Clean Birkenstocks

how to clean birkenstocks, birkenstock footbed
Written by Bryce

Here’s how to clean your favorite Birkenstock sandals like a pro.

Let’s be real—you’re likely not wearing Chloe ballerina flats and dressing to the nines each day. It’s hot. It’s summer, and you’re wearing Birks on repeat. Here’s how to clean Birkenstocks without damaging the leather, cork or other materials.

How to clean Birkenstock shoes like a pro

The first and most important thing you’ll need to remove stains, stinky odors and bacteria from your Birkenstock sandals is a clean, light-colored cloth soaked with a bit of over-the-counter rubbing alcohol.

Use the damp cloth to blot and gently rub stains away, but don’t go overboard. Alcohol can dry your precious leather out. You’ll want to use a good-quality leather conditioner after to seal moisture back in.

leather honey, how to clean birkenstocks

We happen to love this Leather Honey that’s great for shoes, jackets, chairs and even car seats—but the choice is yours. Or, if you prefer a pre-dampened leather wipes formula, these Weiman Leather Cleaning Wipes are cheap, easy to use and work like a charm.

How to clean suede Birkenstocks and footbeds

Make sure you have a delicate suede brush on hand to buff out dirt and topical stains from suede Birkenstock styles. This helps help the cleaning process alcohol-free, which is especially important for unsealed suedes.

how to clean birkenstocks, birkenstock footbed

This suede brush is cheap and a personal favorite. Use gentle circular motions to lift stains and to restore the soft, fluffy feeling your shoes had when they were brand-new.

Suede and leather-cleaning gear make some of the most practical gifts for women in their 20s who love fashion aside from period bathing suits and chic luggage.

how to clean birkenstocks, birkenstock sandals on tree logs

How to prevent damage and stains on Birkenstocks

Spray your Birks with a moisture-repellent leather protecting spray at least twice a year. And yes, that includes the footbed. This helps seal the leather and prevent future damage from the elements, sweat, bacteria and gnarly odors.

Sealing the cork with cork sealer is also an option if you’re living a particularly rugged life.

“Apply liberally, but don’t go crazy with the sealants or use them too often,” shares Maria Juegos, a professional leather restorer based in New York, New York.

“That means treating every few weeks if you’re wearing your sandals non-stop, or less often if Birkenstocks are just an occasional addition to your wardrobe.”

Does water ruin Birkenstocks?

“It’s important to avoid getting your Birks entirely wet or submerging in water. This can alter the texture and fit of the leather, the footbed and the cork. It can also cause mold to grow, and you don’t want that,” shares Juegos.

“If your Birkenstock sandals get wet, hang them somewhere well-lit and airy to fully dry. Then seal or re-seal with leather conditioner. But seriously, don’t run into seawater with leather shoes on.”

Tips to make Birkenstocks last for years

How to store Birkenstocks

  • Keep your straps in perfect shape by storing Birks with foot molds or shoving balled-up socks inside to retain the shape
  • When summer is over and you’re ready to store your sandals, keep them stored in a cool, dry area like a closet or shoe rack that isn’t exposed to sunlight or moisture
  • Condition the leather at least twice a year, whether you’re wearing your sandals or not

This post contains affiliate links.

About the author


Bryce Gruber is a Manhattanite mom who can be found jet-setting off to every corner of the globe. She loves exotic places, being fully rested and writing for some of the world's most popular news outlets.

Leave a Comment