As a local small business we go to great lengths to help you take care of your Birkenstocks. We have product in the store and online that we can show you how to use to make sure that your Birkenstocks can last as long as possible. There are also repairs available that we offer as well. We are launching a series of videos that will show you how to do everything that you need to care and protect your Birkenstocks. Make sure to check us out and subscribe to our Youtube channel to get all the details.
DO NOT USE:
There are a lot of "How To" instructions and videos about how to clean your Birkenstocks
but some of techniques may actually damage your shoes.
Don't get your shoes wet ! We hear this all the time - "I got in the tub with my sandals and then I wore them - that's how you break them in." Please never do this. The Birkenstock footbed is made of cork and latex. Cork will expand when saturated with water. It loosens the bond with the latex and cork will start to shred out of your shoes.
Avoid Heat ! Being in Las Vegas we have a problem with this. When it's 100* outside it can be 180* in your car. Leaving your Birkenstocks anywhere that they will receive prolonged heat will shrink your soles off. The material is a lightweight but durable EVA - but excessive heat will cause it to separate from your shoe and change the density of the material. (looks like a shrinky dink - remember those?) Other culprits can be setting them on top of radiators (if your in cold country), leaving shoes in the garage or by the back door, putting your feet up to the campfire and hot work environments. We bake the soles off when we fix them - same principle.
UPPERS. Of course, there are repairs that can fix almost any part of the shoe - EXCEPT the upper or straps. Those you need to take care of. There are a few different types of strap materials that you will encounter;
Oiled Leathers are a full grain leather that have a rough almost textured finish. Cleaning them requires a few supplies: a microfiber or t-shirt material cloth, leather cleaner, nubuck block and brush and possibly fine or super fine sand paper. These can be easy to restore and last really well. Smooth leather finishes - you just don't use any of the abrasive materials to get the same results.
Birko-Flor is a manmade material that has a vinyl top layer with a felt under layer. Birko-Flor simulates leather and can look really close. Birkenstock also does many cool color and patterns in this material. They are vivid and pop. This material is very easy to clean. A cloth and cleaning fluid like 409, Simple Green or Windex will be all you might need. Be careful not to use anything abrasive as it may scrub off the color or print.
Birki-Buc is another man-made material that Birkenstock uses that simulates nubuck. It will have a softer look than the Birko-Flor but just as durable. You clean this the same way as the Birko-Flor - again being a little more careful not to get too aggressive when scrubbing off any stains.
Suede is a split full grain leather which is why it has a nappier plush finish and is very soft. Nubuck is a sanded full grain leather which has a softer appearance than smooth leather but keeps the full grain integrity. This leather may need a lot more work to clean. We have all the steps listed in our video - BUT I try to encourage anyone buying either suede or nubuck to treat the uppers 2-3 times with a water and stain protector before they start wearing them all the time. Prevention with these materials is 2/3 your battle in keeping them looking nice. Light colors will get dirty looking and dark colors can fade from the UV. Spraying them won't guarantee that you will never get any stains or experience fading but it will help A LOT.
LINERS can also be cleaned. The picture shows (5) which is the soft footbed padding layer on top of which is the liner. The liner is usually made out of suede and can be cleaned with sand paper, nubuck blocks and brushes. You might be able to remove the imprint of your foot, but it will come right back. The suede liner is designed to absorb the moisture and oils from your foot. When it has absorbed its fill - it will start giving back and will stain your foot. If you sweat a lot you may want to stick with the classic footbed. When a soft footbed liner gets wet and dry repeatedly it can become brittle and crack faster. Not a big deal - just something to be aware of. We want you to have your Birks as long as possible.
Don't like having your footprint in the shoe? Want to make your shoes last longer? You can always try SOXSOLS. These liners were designed to lay flat in your sandals or shoes and be an absorbent liner that you can wash and move around from shoe to shoe. Check out the website to get the full scoop. You need to buy the right size for them to work right, otherwise they won't lay flat. Available in cotton or wool with a silicon backing, SOXSOLS can make sweaty feet a problem of the past.
CORK. The cork footbed is sealed when you buy them but it wears off in time. It will start to have a raw look to it. They will need to be sealed with Cork Seal or Cork Renew. In extreme circumstances Barge cement can be used - but it's messy and gooey. Cork Seal or Renew is the only thing that is unique to the care of Birkenstocks. Most all the other cleaning products and tools can be gotten almost anywhere, but I recommend the cork seal or renew to make sure they can last longer.
It helps keep the cork and latex (did you know that's tree sap?) healthy and protected. Keeps them from getting water damaged but also keeps the material's natural moisture and spongi-ness in. Letting your cork get too dry or wet will promote decay. The latex will lose grip and cork will shed out of your shoes. Everyone is different - so it may take you 3 months to wear off the cork seal or 1 year. Just check periodically and make sure they look a little shiny - and you know they are sealed.
So now you have the basics to make sure your Birkenstocks can look great and last longer.
Make sure to check out Tiffany explaining everything you need to know to take care of your Birks as we introduce our newest "How To" series on our YouTube Channel.
Need an in store consult?
Stop by with your shoes and we'll make sure you get exactly what you need to take care of your shoes.