Do Birkenstocks get smelly? 

Nobody wants a smelly pair of Birks. It makes us uncomfortable, especially when other people smell the stink! But can this be prevented? Why do Birks get smelly?

Birkenstocks tend to get smelly over time if you use them often. Some of the causes are the sweat from your feet, high temperatures, skin problems, and improper cleaning and drying. You can white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, a freezer, enzyme cleaner, cat litter, and Birks washing products to remove the stink.

Want to learn more about the causes and solutions to your smelly Birks? Read this guide until the end! 

Are Birkenstocks supposed to smell?

Even though Birkenstocks are high-quality, they tend to get smelly over time. If you use them often, they can develop a foul odor, especially after hours of putting them on. Usually, just letting them air dry will not solve the problem as it only targets wetness, not the stink it leaves after. 

Some of the Birk parts that may smell are the footbed, the bottom surface of the uppers, and the sole. The first two are the internal portion of the footwear that are usually wrapping up your feet, whereas the latter is in contact with the ground where different types of dirt and bacteria are found.

As you know, Birks are created using a wide variety of materials and processes. This means that they require a certain type of footwear care to remove the smelly odor, too. Even though you clean them once in a while, if you are not mindful of what cleaning materials to use, you might just be wasting your time, effort, and money.

Reasons why Birkenstocks get smelly

I know you wouldn’t want your Birks to get smelly, but it is inevitable, especially if you are fond of using them often. To solve this problem, it is very important to know first what causes your Birks to smell.

  • The sweat from your feet, when mixed with bacteria on your skin, produces a foul smell when dried up. This usually happens if you use your Birks every day. As much as sweating is a natural human body activity, the smell it leaves your skin is transferable to your footwear.
  • High temperatures induce excessive sweating, especially during summer or exercising intensively. If you like going outside while wearing your Birks, your feet are not only susceptible to too much sweating but also to contracting bacteria. This is not only uncomfortable to the touch but also to the nose eventually.
  • Some skin problems, like athlete’s foot and bromodosis, can cause your feet to become stinky. Sometimes, over-sweating and the foul odor from your feet are just a symptom of a serious foot problem. Immediately consult your doctor if you think the smell of your Birks does not change even after quite a few cleaning.
  • Not cleaning your Birks properly will not eliminate the unwanted smell. Birkenstock uses different materials when creating footwear. Thus, this entails that cleaning them also requires different techniques. Make sure that you know your footwear well to identify the appropriate cleaning process. 
  • Not drying your Birks properly after getting wet promotes a bad smell. You should not leave your Birks soaking wet overnight because it encourages bacteria to build up. In effect, this translates into a very stinky smell even getting dried up the morning after.

Best cleaning solutions to remove the smell from Birkenstocks

Now that you know what causes your Birks to smell bad, what should you do now? Do not worry because I prepared a list of the best cleaning solutions to help you. And the good thing is that most of them can be found in your kitchen!

1. Soft Sunlight

One of the first things that you should do before doing any cleaning procedure is to dry the sweat or rainwater from your Birks. To do this, you can place them under soft sunlight to let the heat and the breeze of the air dry and reduce the smell. 

Just be careful not to overdo it because too much heat can damage the materials of your Birks.

2. White Vinegar

White vinegar does not only remove the fishy smell of seafood but also the stink of your Birks. Its acid is a fantastic smell neutralizer, leaving your Birks odorless. 

Just mix white vinegar and water in a bowl. Get clean paper towels, and soak them in the solution. Place them on the inner part of your Birks until fully covered. Wait for 6–8 hours before removing them. Also, make sure that your Birks are dry before using them again.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

As we all know, rubbing alcohol is a good disinfectant. It does not only destroy the bacteria buildup on your Birks that causes the foul smell. It is also an incredible odor neutralizer that conditions a great foot odor.

To use this, get paper towels as well, and wet them with rubbing alcohol. Cover the inner surface of your Birks with them, and let the footwear sit for about 3–5 hours.

4. Baking Soda

Apart from being popular in the kitchen, baking soda also has excellent cleaning properties. It can absorb all of the impurities and foul odor of your Birks. When partnered with anti-bacterial agents, such as tea tree oil, this can work wonders even more!

Create a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Spread it all over the footbeds, and leave them overnight. In the morning, get an old toothbrush, and brush off the dried paste. Before using them, let them rest first for an entire day.

5. Refrigerator for freezing

Freezing inhibits the growth of bacteria. This is usually done with meats and other perishable goods. Because smelly Birks are full of bacteria, freezing them in the refrigerator is a great cleaning solution as low temperatures destroy the buildup.

To do this effectively, put your Birks in a ziplock bag. Place it inside the refrigerator, and let it freeze for 1–2 days. Once done, get it out of the freezer, and thaw the Birks well before using them again.

6. Enzyme Cleaner

For a more potent cleaning solution, enzyme cleaner is truly effective. It can eat away all the odor-causing bacteria on your Birks. Just be extra careful because the materials used in making your Birks might not react well with a potent enzyme cleaner.

Wet paper towels with the enzyme cleaner. Carefully place them on the inside part of your Birks, and leave them for 6–8 hours. Remove them once done before wearing them again.

7. Cat Litter

You might be thinking why animal waste made it to this list. Believe it or not, cat litter is an excellent deodorizer. It also sucks up moisture that, in turn, neutralizes the odor in your footwear.

Before getting the cat litter, make sure that it hardens a bit indicating that it is dry. Get a pair of stockings or socks, and fill them in with the litter. Stuff your Birks with them, and leave them for 4–5 days. Do not worry because, by this time, the cat litter no longer stinks.

8. Birkenstock Cleaner and Refresher

Birkenstock does not only ensure that your footwear is in style but also deserving of care. The brand has created a set of cleaning products that you can purchase to maintain the quality and odorless smell of your Birks.

Just spray the liquid solution on the footbeds. Leave them for a few minutes before brushing off excess moisture and dirt. Let them dry, too, before putting them on again.

Steps to get the smell out of Birkenstocks

If you are having a hard time memorizing the different uses of the cleaning materials mentioned above, here is a general 5-step procedure that you can follow:

  • Step 1: Make sure that your Birks are dry before cleaning them. The bacteria buildup on your footwear from sweating may be very active immediately after using them. Your cleaning agents may have a difficult time doing their job because of this.
  • Step 2: Remove the visible stains and dirt. Using an old toothbrush or a damp cloth can do this job excellently. This is advisable so that the cleaning agents may penetrate all of the dirty areas of your Birks better.
  • Step 3: Depending on the materials used, use the appropriate cleaning agents and procedures. Out of all the cleaning solutions discussed above, choose the best and most effective one that suits the needs of your Birks. Just always be gentle when holding them to avoid further damage.
  • Step 4: If leaving the cleaning solution on your Birks is advised, patiently wait for the completion of the time required. Some may range from leaving it for a few minutes to hours. Just make sure not to hurry the process so that your Birks can be deeply cleaned.
  • Step 5: Let your Birks dry before using them again. You can do this in two ways. Firstly, you can put them under soft sunlight while letting the air pass through them. Secondly, placing them in an open space with proper ventilation can also suffice. Make sure that every area is dry to prevent the smell from coming back.

Tips to prevent your Birkenstocks from smelling

People say that prevention is better than cure. True enough, this can also be applied to keeping your Birks from smelling. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Clean your Birkenstocks regularly and properly. You have to destroy the bacteria buildup that mixes with your sweat. By using the right products and doing regular cleaning, you can target the root cause of the foul smell.
  • Always dry your Birks after using them. Even though they do not feel soaking wet, the sweat from your feet can exacerbate the smelly odor if not dried up completely. Better place them in an open space to let air pass through them.
  • Replace the footbeds of your Birks if the smell becomes difficult to eliminate. If you have a budget, you can just purchase freshly new footbeds that Birkenstock also offers.
  • You can wear socks to restrict your sweat from getting absorbed by your Birks. This not only provides your feet with a stylish look but also a hygienic benefit.
  • Go to a shoe shop to have your Birks cleaned professionally. A shoe expert can surely help you with eliminating the smell from your footwear.

Can you clean Birkenstocks using a washing machine?

Cleaning using a washing machine can be too damaging for your Birks. It is not advisable to get rid of the foul smell by this as the intense spinning of the machine can weaken the integrity of the footwear. It may result in the detachment of some parts, like the uppers from the sole.

In addition, the cleaning detergent that goes with the washing machine might be too strong for the materials of your Birks. It can lead to the cracking of the leather, discoloration, and rustiness of the buckles.

Instead of using a washing machine, opt for gentler cleaning options like using products found in the kitchen. You can also go to the nearest footwear store to have them cleaned professionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you clean your Birkenstocks?

You should clean your Birks regularly. If you use them daily, you can schedule cleaning them once a week by brushing off visible stains and dirt. But if not often, cleaning them twice a month is advisable. Just always be gentle when holding them.

What happens when Birkenstocks get wet?

Non-waterproof Birkenstocks absorb water when wet or exposed to moist environments. If not dried up well, they can lead to the weakening of the materials used and developing a foul odor. To avoid these, do not immerse your Birks in water.

Are Birkenstocks good for sweaty feet?

Yes. Birks are good for sweaty feet because they are lightweight and pliable. This lessens the restrain from your feet which, in turn, decreases the chances of excessive sweating. Some Birkenstock models are moisture-absorbing, too, which makes your skin feel very supple.

Final Thoughts: Birkenstocks Getting Smelly

As discussed in this blog, a smelly Birkenstock is caused by sweat from your feet, high temperatures that induce excessive sweating, skin problems, and improper cleaning and drying. The good thing is that you can find some of the best cleaning remedies in your kitchen. 

If you still haven’t gotten rid of the smell, better ask a professional or someone from Birks to help you. 

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