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Staying Fashion Fresh: How to Maintain White Birkenstock Sandals

Despite the disappointing Birkenstock IPO in late 2023, the German footwear brand has seen steady demand over the past few months – and for good reason. Its trendy sandals are comfortable, practical, and very long-lasting!

If you own a pair, you likely know these shoes can last a decade or more with the proper care. However, you might be nervous about making it that far if you own white Birkenstock sandals. How do you keep your bright white shoes clean?

At Feet for Life, we’ve got you covered! Let’s look at how to clean your white sandals by material type to keep them looking new.

How Often to Clean Your Birkenstocks

You should constantly be cleaning your white Birkenstocks!

Like other high-quality shoes, Birkenstocks shine best and last longest with regular cleaning. Kicking off your muddy shoes after wearing them may be tempting, but this allows dirt to seep into them.

After each wear, quickly wipe down your shoes with the simple cleaning techniques discussed below. This helps prevent problems before they start, keeping your white Birkenstocks looking like new. It also makes cleaning a breeze: dirt is much easier to remove when fresh!

If you’ve walked around in serious mud, you may need to do an occasional deep cleaning. You’ll also want to do extra cleaning if you plan to store your Birkenstock sandals for an extended period, such as during winter.

Tools You May Need for Birkenstock Cleaning

Before you jump in, make sure to grab a few crucial cleaning products:

  • A soft-bristled brush (such as a shoe-cleaning brush or toothbrush)
  • Soft cloths (such as a microfiber cleaning cloth)
  • Whitening toothpaste (non-gel, with no artificial dyes)
  • Melamine sponge (ex. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser)
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Liquid detergent
  • Tea bags

You can also consider grabbing Birkenstock’s official cleaning kit to simplify things! These kits contain cleaning spray, water and stain repellent, cork sealer, and a leather brush.

Cleaning White Leather Birkenstocks

White leather is a full-grain animal hide product, making it smooth and functional for sandals. Even better, leather shapes well to your foot once you’ve broken it in!

Birkenstock uses high-quality white leather, but it still takes much care to keep your shoes looking their best.

Surface Cleaning

Unbuckle your Birkenstocks or other embellishments, depending on your sandal style.

Start by loosening and removing any dirt, mud, or chunks of debris left on your sandals. Anything that hasn’t seeped into the leather should come off. You can use a soft-bristled brush or a soft rag for this.

Spot Cleaning

Dampen (don’t soak!) a soft rag and press it all across the leather to get your shoes damp. Be careful not to over-saturate the leather, which can cause damage.

If you have a Birkenstock cleaner or some white toothpaste, grab your cleaning product.

Dab this product in any problem areas and start spot-cleaning by rubbing the leather with your fingers. Use gentle, circular motions, and pay extra attention to the seams along the sole. For set-in stains, sprinkle some baking soda onto the rag and rub it in to create a paste.

Repeat these steps until the shoes are as white as you want. Use the damp rag to remove any leftover toothpaste or cleaning product.

Cleaning White Suede Leather Birkenstocks

Suede leather is a soft and fuzzy-feeling leather that comes from the underside of an animal hide. Like cleaning leather, keeping up with suede is crucial. Unlike cleaning leather, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the nap or the tiny fibers on the surface of your shoes.

Surface Cleaning

Begin by brushing away loose and embedded soil with a soft-bristled suede brush or a damp rag. Be sure to brush in the direction of the grain. This keeps the suede leather feeling smooth to the touch.

If the nap is plastered, matted, or stuck in places, use the brush gently but firmly until you can free the fibers.

Spot Cleaning

Next, choose your cleaning product. Again, Birkenstock’s cleaner may be your best bet, but you can also grab some vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Dampen a washcloth with this product, and dab at the stain until you’ve blotted it out.

Be careful not to use too much liquid. As with leather, suede deteriorates with too much moisture. For set-in stains, add baking soda to help brighten up the area.

Cleaning White EVA Birkenstocks

EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) is a newer addition to Birkenstock’s sandal line. This foam-like material has supple, rubber-like qualities that make shoes easy and comfortable, especially for people with foot pain or disorders.

Fortunately, cleaning EVA is more manageable than cleaning the options above! Because it’s waterproof, EVA can take a good scrubbing to return it to peak condition.

To start, unbuckle any straps, then wet a damp cloth to wipe down your shoes. You can even grab some dish soap to scrub away set-in dirt or grime, though you may not need it. After a thorough rinse, let your shoes dry.

Cleaning White Birko-Flor or Birkibuc Birkenstocks

Birko-Flor and Birkibuc are synthetic materials developed by Birkenstock. They both mimic the look of fleece or suede, but they’re far more accessible to clean!

Like EVA shoes, you can use a wet cloth with or without some mild detergent to clean your shoes. Add some baking soda to the mix for gentle whitening and scrubbing. When finished, rinse your shoes with a clean, wet cloth.

Cleaning Birkenstock Soles

Last, don’t forget to clean the soles of your shoes! Your cleaning strategy should vary by the type of sole you have. Before you begin, permanently remove any inserts you’ve added for high arches or other foot sole issues.

Darker soles can take a good scrubbing, so don’t be afraid to grab a damp brush to remove any set-in dirt or debris. If you need a cleaning product, some toothpaste may help you remove stains.

If your shoes have white soles, removing discoloration is crucial.

Start by cleaning the soles as best you can using the products and techniques above. For example, toothpaste or Birkenstock’s cleaner will help you remove most dirt and scuff marks.

From there, try using a melamine sponge. (Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are the name-brand sponges, but any cheap melamine sponge will work just as well.) These sponges are special abrasive foam cleaners that help remove stains, dirt, and grease.

Because the surface of these sponges can be so rough, stay gentle as you spot-clean the soles of your shoes. Never use these sponges anywhere else on your boots, especially if they’re leather or suede!

Drying Your Birkenstock Sandals

Let your sandals dry out completely, no matter what material you use.

After cleaning Birkenstocks, wipe off any excess moisture. Let the shoes sit at room temperature until they’re dry.

Avoid placing them in any heated areas to dry! It may be tempting to try speeding up the process by putting your shoes on a radiator or out in the sun, but heat can damage your shoes. It can sometimes even cause cracks, shrinkage, or discoloration!

Removing Odors

Because most Birkenstock styles are open enough to remain breathable, you might not notice odors as often as you do with other shoes. However, if you wear enough white Birkenstocks, they may start to smell over time.

There are a few ways to eliminate this without damaging your shoes.

First, try using the instructions on the package using Birkenstock’s odor-removal product.

If you prefer a DIY alternative, there’s an easy and natural way to do this at home with teabags. Because teabags attract moisture, which can attract bacteria and create foul smells, they help reduce certain odors.

Grab unused bags of black tea and place them inside each shoe for a while.

Start checking your shoes after 24 hours. If the smell is gone, remove the tea bags. Let the tea bags sit a little longer if you notice an odor.

Protecting Your White Birkenstock Sandals

For certain materials, like leather and suede, a protective spray can help seal shoes. This prevents staining and makes them cleaner.

Water repellents can also help with other shoe materials. These products come in oils, waxes, and sprays, and they help keep certain stains at bay while keeping your shoes dry.

Birkenstock also offers cork sealer to protect your cork soles from the elements.

Invest in Birkenstock Care

With proper care, you’ll enjoy your white Birkenstock sandals for years! To get more out of these stylish shoes, follow the cleaning tips above.

If you want these high-quality comfort shoes, shop our online collection here: visit one of our stores! Our range of styles, colors, and materials will help you find your new favorite footwear.