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How To Clean and Keep Your Birkenstocks Looking Fresh

How to care for your Birkenstocks

There’s no need for your Birkenstocks to feel and look tired. We’ve provided a guide on how to keep your Birks looking good as new.

Your Birkenstocks will always keep their comfortable worn-in shape as well as your footprint in the footbed; however, you can still freshen the feel as well as the look.  

 

Keeping your Birkenstocks Clean

Why are Birkenstocks so popular and why should you look after them?

A common adage of the Birkenstock convert is, “My Birkenstocks have ruined me for any other shoes because now I don’t want to wear anything else!”  

Honestly, we don’t blame them.

With an anatomical shaped footbed, like the negative imprint of your foot in the sand, they provide a supportive comfort you will be hard pressed to find in another slide. 

Birkenstocks have a huge following for their unique comfort and support. Since the Arizona featured in fashion runways and magazines in recent years, the brand has seen a surge in popularity as they have become a sort-after, on-trend item. You’ve got to love the worlds of fashion and comfort colliding! A slip-on-and-go, comfy pair of slides that work with my wardrobe? Yes please!

Home Fashion and Athleisure are now front runners for style and Birkenstocks fit so perfectly into both these categories it’s no wonder people and popping their feet into these practical, easy to wear, no fuss classics.

Finding a slide so comfortable and easy to style that you don’t want to wear anything else is not a bad problem to have. You’ve got your Birkenstocks and your feet couldn’t thank you more.

What now?

You’ve invested in your comfort with a pair of Birkenstocks so investing some time into their care really does pay off. Sustainability is woven through all aspects of the Birkenstock culture. Their commitment to this environmental ethos touches processes like using renewable cork in their production, sourcing high quality natural materials to ensure longevity in the product and repair options to increase the lifespan of sandals, to mention only a few. You can be a part of this environmental approach to fashion by caring for the sandals, to give them an increased lifespan.

You can get the best life out of your Birkenstocks by following some simple steps.

The place to start, to get the most from your Birkenstocks, is to make sure you are in the right size and give yourself the right amount of time to wear them in.  

Finding your Birkenstock size

If you’re new to Birkenstocks, the best place to start is in store where you can try the different styles and sizes to determine what fits and feels best with the help of our customer service team. When this isn’t possible, there are some steps you can follow. We have a Birkenstock size guide  with the measurements of the different sizes and width fittings to help.

When you have a new pair of sandals, open up all the straps and place your foot on the footbed. The contours of the footbed should follow the curves of your foot. When you adjust the straps to comfortably hold you in place, stand up and make sure you have a 5mm gap between your toes and the edge of the footbed and another 5mm gap between your heel and the back edge of the slide. 

Being in the right size and width, means you are less likely to put extra pressure or parts of the sandal and will help avoid premature wear. 

 

Man wearing Birkenstocks on a swingset

Wearing in your new Birkenstocks

Many people when they try Birkenstock’s for the first time, describe them as feeling like a plank under the foot. The midsole of the sandals is constructed with layers of natural materials; jute, cork & latex. The heat of the foot through the first 5 – 6 wears will soften and mould this footbed and help create the flexibility of the pair to the movement of your feet. We recommend wearing a new pair in for 1-2 weeks for a few hours each day.

As a guide you can start at one hour on the 1st day and then building that time over each day, depending how you feel. You’ll notice the change in how the sandals feel and how they become more flexible. This time also allows your feet and body to adjust to the contours and support of the sandals as well as the straps and buckles.

The tendons in some people’s feet can be tight and a sandal with arch support won’t stretch them or the muscles in your feet instantly. It can take a little time. Much like needing to stretch out a hamstring with frequent small stretches before it’s comfortable and easy to bend. If you’re ever unsure, check in with a podiatrist or healthcare professional. 

Once worn in, get ready to join the many other fans living in Birkenstock-fuelled comfort, prepared to wear no other shoe and planning the next colour or style 😉

Black and brown Birkenstocks featured on grass

How to clean the different materials in the classic Birkenstock styles

The steps to taking care of your Birkenstock sandals will differ depending on the upper material of your pair, However, caring for the footbed is the same across most of the classic range and is a great place to start ……. It really is the soul* of the support (pardon the pun). *Sole. 

The Suede Footbed 

Most classic Birkenstocks are suede lined over the cork/latex and jute sole. These natural materials are designed to absorb moisture from your feet to create a more breathable feel. So, after a busy day, working hard, to support your feet, your Birkenstocks don’t need a glass of wine and a good movie; but they do need some air. Airing the footbeds regularly prevents the build-up of odours caused by excess moisture.

If you need a little added freshness, ECCO’s Shoe Refresher Spray is a Footgear team go-to, it’s an antimicrobial that is best sprayed onto the footbed and left to dry out over night as they air. The occasional brush with a suede brush or nail brush will also help to free the suede lining of dust build-up or muddy marks.  

Caring for the Cork

When you first get your new Birkenstock, you’ll notice that the exposed cork looks nice and shiny; that’s the sealant to protect it. Over time you’ll notice that this dulls, but don’t fret! We stock the Naot Cork Seal that you can use to top up and reseal the cork. Caring for your cork is also remembering that these materials are natural, so they don’t like excess water or extreme heat. Avoid damage by storing and airing them in a cool, dry, shaded spot.

If you get caught in the rain, same thing goes, a cool and shaded place to dry – no heat products & no direct sun. Birkenstock have their EVA range for a water friendly option, but if you find yourself wearing your classic Birks at the beach and they get salt water on them, gently rinse & wipe over the buckles to avoid corrosion. 

Taking care of Leather

Amongst the many Birkenstock styles there’s a range of leather and non-leather options in the materials used to make the straps. In amongst the leather options, you’ll find smooth, oiled, nubuck, metallic and suede finishes. Each type of leather requires different care. If you’re not sure on the type you have, we happen to have some very friendly staff who are always here to help.

Smooth Leather –Rich in colour with a shine to the finish. The Arizona black smooth leather is a favourite amongst Birkenstock fans and works well with any wardrobe. To clean a smooth leather, you can use leather shoe wipes or a foam shoe cleaner for any dirt. To condition the leather, use a good quality smooth leather cream. If you can’t find a cream that’s a colour match, then transparent always works well. Leather cream can rejuvenate both the look and the feel of the leather. Think of it like a moisturiser. 

Natural/Oiled Leather –The rich and unique colour of a natural oiled leather will change and grow in character over time. To restore and maintain the colour use a good quality leather conditioner. At Footgear we use the Ecco Every Day Smooth Leather Cream in transparent and find this works well. Please note that oiled leather does scratch and mark but this develops the character of the leather; rub your warm thumb over the mark and the heat and natural oils in you fingers will help it to fade. If you want to deepen the colour of your oiled leather Birkenstocks, you can use a leather wax; although this will change the finish and give a bit of shine to the leather; if you like that look. 

Metallic Leather –Looks amazing and as the light sparkles up the shine of this upper, you can almost hear it say “oh hey there, yes I know, I’m a very cute pair of Birkenstocks, thank you.” But be careful, this much-loved look can scratch and scuff over time and you can’t refill this colour. To create this look, a metallic foil is added to the top of the leather. Treat them with care and enjoy wearing the extra sparkle! The shimmer and shine does tend to help mask any scuffs in the foil. Avoid corrosive liquids like perfume, sunscreen or nail polish remover getting onto the material. You can also help to protect this material with a transparent leather cream.

Suede Leather –Oh so soft against the foot, suede leather feels amazing from the moment you pop them onto your feet (and that’s even without pairing them with a Soft Footbed option – if you haven’t heard of these you should definitely check them out). To protect a suede upper, use a waterproofing spray before you wear them. Place a piece of paper or material over the footbed to protect the base before you spray the uppers. ECCO’s Waterproof Spray is pump action rather than aerosol and easy to use. To help clean them you can use a suede brush and there are conditioners specific for use on suede as well. 

Nubuck Leather –Think of this leather as the middle child between suede and oiled leather. To clean use a nubuck rubber. Ecco sells one that’s a combo nubuck suede eraser as well as a conditioner that covers both these leathers as well. Waterproofing a nubuck upper will also help to protect it.

Taking Care of non-leather Birkenstocks

 

Cleaning Suede Birkenstocks

 

Across all the Birkenstock styles from Arizona to Gizeh, Mayari to Madrid (sounds like an around the world trip!), Birkenstocks come in leather and non-leather options for the upper material. The non-leather options come in a fun array of colours and patterns. Not only are they colourful they also have the added benefit of being easy care. Please re-adjust your reading glasses because this next part is… short. 

Birko-Flor – close to the look and feel of leather this is the Birkenstock trademarked synthetic leather. It is skin friendly, soft and durable. Wipe these uppers clean with a damp cloth and you are ready to go!

BirkiBuc –This is Birkenstock’s trademarked synthetic nubuck leather. Remember that ‘middle child’ between suede and oiled leather? Well, this is the synthetic version of that look. And it is also skin friendly, soft and durable. To clean, use a soft plastic bristle suede brush, nail brush or toothbrush to brush over the upper lightly. 

How to care for your Vegan Birkenstocks

This is a really popular and fast-growing category of the Birkenstock family. The Vegan options in Birkenstock have some really beautiful and versatile colours across a range of styles. The uppers are either Birko-Flor or BirkiBuc, Birkenstock’s trademarked synthetic leathers (please see cleaning tips above).

Constructed with Birkenstock’s original footbed shape and support, the footbed of the Vegan range is lined with Microfibre. This allows the footbed to be moisture absorbent and breathable. To clean the Microfibre, treat it like BirkiBuc and use a soft plastic brush.

How to clean the EVA Birkenstocks

Everyone’s new favourite beach companion. The EVA Birkenstock range is water-friendly, light and easy to clean. They’re so light and comfortable they are also a favourite for around the house, in the garden and a quick pop down to the shops to grab milk. To clean them you can just rinse them off with water or wash with a mild soap and water. 

How to care for the Professional Clogs/ Polyurethane

The Super-Birki and Profi-Birki are the staples of this collection. Made from Polyurethane (PU) they are water resistant and also resistant to heat, acid, oil and grease. Great for working in kitchens and operating theatre environments, they are also another gardening and house shoe favourite.

Clean the outer clog with mild soap and water. These clogs come with a removable footbed that provides Birkenstock’s classic shape and support. Some styles come with a PU insole and others a cork insole. The PU sole can be washed with a mild soap and water. If you have a cork-based insole, it comes with a linen lining that can be wiped over with a damp cloth. For the cork insoles, avoid access water.  

Think your Birkenstocks are worn beyond a cleaning refresh? How about repairing them?

Not only do Birkenstock construct these classic styles with a cork that is completely renewable, but they can also be repaired! Not to throw the word wonder-product around too lightly…. But… the option of wearing a super comfortable pair of slides, that mould to your feet, that you fall in love with, that you are able to repair and get more life out of??? Amazing!

Repairs can be made to the EVA sole, cork and latex base as well as the suede lining. If you have a pair you are interested in repairing, contact our customer service team for more info. If you are wanting the EVA sole replaced at any point, make note to not wear them down that you are wearing into the cork as this could mean needing to replace more than just the sole. 

The Best Part

Now you know how to refresh your favourite Birkenstock sandals and can continue to enjoy wearing them! Or check out our freshly landed new arrivals. You can also see these must haves at one of our stores. Happy Stepping! 😊

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