While they won't necessarily last a lifetime, Birkenstocks can retain their comfort and good looks for many years with proper care. The sturdy German sandals require little maintenance, but they may need an occasional gentle cleaning. To prolong the life of your Birks, protect them from intense heat and direct sunlight, and condition the leather and cork regularly. If they get wet, allow them to dry naturally.
Wipe away dirt or dried mud with a soft cloth. Don't attempt to wipe mud until it has dried fully; you may stain the leather and cork.
Remove marks and scuffs from smooth leather Birkenstocks by wiping the leather with a soft, damp cloth. If the sandals are badly soiled, dip the damp cloth in a small amount of leather cleaner and use it to wipe them. Allow the sandals to air dry away from sunlight or heat. Apply leather conditioner to the dry leather, and then buff the sandals with a soft cloth.
Brush suede or nubuck Birkenstocks with a suede brush to remove surface dust. If the sandals are badly soiled, wipe the suede with a damp cloth or a moist, soft-bristled brush. Allow the sandals to dry away from heat or direct sunlight, and then brush them with a dry suede brush to restore the nap. Apply a layer of spray-on suede protector.
Wipe the cork footbeds with a damp cloth. If they're badly soiled, put one or two drops of baby shampoo or gentle hand soap in a bowl of warm water, and dip the cloth in the sudsy solution. Wipe the footbed gently, and then use a clean, damp cloth to remove the soap. To keep the cork clean and prevent it from drying out, wipe it with cork sealant whenever it loses its shiny appearance.
Damaged or worn-out Birkenstocks soles are replaceable, and worn-out cork footbeds can also be replaced. Inquire at any Birkenstock retailer.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.