How to Clean Smelly Birkenstocks – 4 Easy Ways & Preventative Tips

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Birkenstocks are sandals made of cork, rubber, leather, and vegan leather. They are soft and comfortable. If you walk around in them for a while, you can create an impression of feet on the footbed of the shoes. Some of the most comfortable sandals in the world can get dirty and smelly if not maintained well. So if you are wondering how to clean smelly Birkenstocks, you have come to the right place.

how to clean smelly birkenstocks

To begin with, we will focus on methods to remove the bad smell from your Birkenstocks, followed by general maintenance tips. There are many ways to get rid of the odor. Read on to find out how to clean smelly Birkenstocks.

How to Clean Smelly Birkenstocks

1. Birkenstock Cleaner and Refresher

Birkenstocks themselves provide their own product to help keep your shoes fresh and clean. According to the instructions on their Care page, you may use the Birkenstock Cleaner and Refresher to get rid of bad odor. All you have to do is spray the cleaner all over the footbed, and then clean out any excess moisture and leave it to dry.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is the go-to product for most household cleaning purposes. It works magic on a pair of smelly Birkenstocks, just like it does on loads of other items.

First, take a damp cloth or tissue to wipe your sandals clean of dirt and debris.
In a bowl mix two to three spoons of baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply it evenly on the footbed of your Birkenstocks with a spatula. Make sure to cover any stains or spots fully with the paste.

Using an old toothbrush, scrub gently on the footbed rubbing away stains and dirt along with the baking soda mixture. Once you are through, wipe any excess water with a cloth and leave the Birks to dry outside.

Make sure they are not kept in high heat — keep them near the windows or any place where there’s good air circulation for it to dry. After a few hours, you should have a pair of fresh-smelling, dirt-free Birkenstocks.

If your sandals have very bad stains, leave the baking soda mixture on overnight for best results.  Scrub it away the next morning. It needs to be dried for at least 24 hours before being used again.

3. Sunlight

Sunlight is a natural source of energy and freshness. Sunlight acts as a natural bleach. If you are worried about how to clean smelly Birkenstocks, it’s probably something that can be easily fixed by merely exposing them to sunlight.

If you think your Birks smell bad, simply wipe them with a clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. Then leave them out to dry under the sun. Do not expose your Birkenstocks for days in the sun because that could damage them.

The best place to leave your shoes to dry is in sunlight outside. This in itself will get rid of bad odor in general.

4. White Vinegar/Rubbing Alcohol

Other simple, popular products that can be used to keep bad odor at bay include white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. You may use either one at a time and not mix both together.

In the case of vinegar, fill a small bowl with equal parts of water and vinegar. Moisten a clean cloth or paper towels in this solution. This will make them come out a little damp and not completely wet and dripping. Now spread these paper towels or cloth over the footbed of the sandals. Leave it on overnight and remove the towels the next morning. Wipe the solution off gently and leave the shoes to dry.

In the case of rubbing alcohol, all of the steps above can be repeated, except that, while in the case of white vinegar, you mix it with water, but for rubbing alcohol you need not dilute it with water. You may directly pour the alcohol into a bowl and dampen the paper towels in the solution.

If you are worried about how to clean smelly Birkenstocks, try the simple methods above. In addition to the methods above, the following are effective maintenance tips you can follow in order to keep your Birks fresh and clean, for a long time. Adhering to these tips will help you keep them well longer and avoid situations where you need to do extensive damage control.

General tips for maintenance of your Birkenstocks

  • Wipe your Birkenstocks with a clean towel once every two days or at a similar interval and leave them out to dry. Figure out a cleaning routine and stick to it.
  • Sprinkle some baking powder every now and then and leave them overnight so that the sandals are odor-free.
  • To ensure proper maintenance of Birkenstocks, you may keep the cork sealant intact. If you think it’s damaged or is coming away at the seams, use the Birkenstock Cork Sealer to protect the shoe from dirt and damage and extend its life.

These are some effective tips on how to clean smelly Birkenstocks. Try these right away and bring your favorite sandals back from bad-odor land!

How do you get the smell out of Birkenstocks?

Baking powder, rubbing alcohol, or diluted white vinegar are great products that are widely available in households, which will help you get the smell out of Birkenstocks. You may also use the company’s own product for this purpose, which is the Birkenstock Cleaner and Refresher.

Can you machine wash Birkenstocks?

No. Never put your Birkenstocks in the washing machine or dryer. You will only cause serious damage to those great shoes by doing so. Avoid any harsh treatment to your Birkenstocks. Do not put them in the washing machine, do not scrub the footbed vigorously, and do not keep them out under the harsh sun. Be gentle with any cleaning method you adopt for your Birkenstocks.


Birkenstocks are comfortable, and durable. However, the only flip side to the leather, rubber, and cork-based shoes is that they start giving out a foul odor after time. If you are wondering how to clean smelly Birkenstocks, our article discussed effective tips on how your Birkenstocks can get cleaned. The best methods to get rid of this odor include simply drying them out under the soft sun, or applying a paste made out of baking powder and water on the footbed. You may also moisten a cloth in diluted vinegar or rubbing alcohol solution and leave them on the footbed overnight. These tips will result in an odor-free, fresh pair of sandals.

The primary issue with Birks is that when you walk around in them for an extended period of time, your feet are so embedded on the sandals that they leave an impression. As a result, your feet turn sweaty and the sandals emit a bad odor.

This is why it’s important to clean your Birkenstocks at regular intervals.

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