If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that a good pair of Birkenstocks is essential to any shoe collection. What you may not know, however, is just how crucial it is to have great-smelling ones! If you’ve ever walked around a public place with damp or musty Birkenstocks on your feet, you probably know why these shoes can become an issue pretty quickly. The leather in them changes colors as soon as moisture touches it, and if left out in the elements for too long, the soles will begin to smell. If you own a pair of these trusty sandals that have been collecting dust in your closet for years and years, don’t worry — it’s not too late to fix them! You can learn how to make your Birkenstocks smell good at any given moment by reading on for our top tips.
How To Make Your Birkenstocks Smell Good
1. Clean the shoes
If you’ve been neglecting your Birkenstocks for a while, it’s probably a good idea to give them a good scrub before you begin any kind of DIY project. You don’t need to use a particularly harsh detergent or soap on your leather shoes, but make sure you get rid of any dirt and grime that might be stuck to the soles. Use warm water and some mild soap, and don’t forget to rub the insides of the shoes as well! If you need help finding the right type of soap that won’t damage your leather, check out our list of best leather soaps.
2. Apply shoe polish
Before you put on any wax or oil, make sure that all surfaces are clean and dry. If your shoes are still damp from washing them, apply some shoe polish first as an added precaution. If you have a favorite brand or formula that works for you, go ahead and use it! The most important part about this step is making sure that it’s done thoroughly — if there’s even one tiny speck of dirt left from cleaning up at home, it will still be there when you put on the polish.
3. Put on some cedar oil
You can purchase cedar oil in most hardware stores these days, but if not then here’s how to make one at home: First mix together two parts olive oil with one part cedar oil (you can use any type of oil that you prefer). Heat up the mixture in a pan on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until it’s all melted together. Store this homemade cedar oil in a glass bottle (like a baby food jar) and keep it out of direct sunlight!
4. Apply the cedar oil
Once you’ve made your cedar oil, apply some to the soles of your shoes. If they’re already clean, this step is optional. If they aren’t, then you’ll want to make sure that they are completely dry before applying any kind of liquid. You can use a cloth to rub the cedar oil into the leather, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can use a brush to apply it evenly across both sides of the shoe. Try not to get any on your fingers — if you do accidentally touch them to the leather, just rinse them off under cool water and go back to rubbing!
5. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes
Once the cedar oil has been applied and it’s time for it to do its work, let your shoes sit for at least five minutes before putting them on! This will allow the cedar oil time to soak into every nook and cranny of your shoe and make sure that all surfaces are covered in an even layer. A great way to help speed up this process is by removing one shoe from your feet and letting it sit out in an open area (not on carpet) for a few minutes before putting it back on.
Why Are Birkenstocks Bad For Smelly Shoes?
The leather is stinky
The cedar oil that you’re applying will help to neutralize the smell of your shoes, but it’s still not a perfect solution. If you’re wearing shoes that have been sitting in a closet for months — or even years — they will still smell! Most people probably don’t realize this, but there are actually some chemicals in the leather that give off a natural odor when they’re wet. When we wear shoes, the moisture from our feet transfers onto the leather and then evaporates over time. This is why wet sneakers and boots can smell so terrible!
They get dirty really easily
I’ve never really been able to figure out why Birkenstocks seem to be so hard to keep clean. I think it has something to do with how they’re made — since they have no padding on their soles and are made of just one piece of material, dirt can easily get trapped in between the sole and upper part of the shoe. It’s also not uncommon for dirt from outside to get stuck between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks (even if you try as hard as you can to keep them clean!).
They’re not easy to clean
Since Birkenstocks are made up of only one piece of material, it’s really difficult (and sometimes impossible) for them to be cleaned thoroughly! Even if you were able to remove all dirt from your Birkenstock without damaging the shoe itself, there would still be a layer of dust and dirt that would have to be brushed off before it’s actually possible to wear your shoes again.
They’re not easy to keep clean
The shoes aren’t really made for people who enjoy having their feet and clothes smelling like cedar! Since they don’t have any padding on the bottom, dirt can easily get trapped between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks. Even if you try as hard as you can to keep them clean, there will always be a layer of dust and dirt that will need to be brushed off before it’s actually possible to wear your shoes again.
The sole is not waterproof
Most people don’t think about the fact that Birkenstocks don’t have any kind of waterproofing on their soles. This means that if you accidentally step in water, your feet will get wet! I’ve had this happen a few times when I was wearing Birkenstocks in the rain and it was definitely not fun!
How To Fix A Damp Birkenstock
1. Add a liner
If you’re not sure if your Birkenstock is actually wet or not, you can always put one of those liners (which are available for purchase online) in your shoes to get an idea of whether or not they are wet. If the liners are dry, then your shoes aren’t probably getting any water on them. If they’re wet, then you might want to think about getting a new pair!
2. Get rid of the moisture/dry out the shoe
Next, you’ll want to try and remove as much moisture from your shoes as possible so that they don’t get any more water on them. I usually use an old toothbrush to brush off all the dirt stuck between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks. This will also help remove any excess moisture that’s been trapped inside your shoes and make it easier for you to wear them again!
3. Use a blow dryer
If you’re still having trouble with moisture getting stuck between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks, try using a blow dryer on low heat setting and aim it straight at the insides of your shoes! A blow dryer will help dry up any remaining moisture from inside your shoes so that they can be worn again!
4. Use a dehumidifier
If you’re still having trouble with moisture getting stuck between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks, try using a dehumidifier on your shoes! A dehumidifier will help dry out any remaining moisture inside your shoes so that they can be worn again!
5. Get a new pair
If you’re still having trouble with moisture getting stuck between the layers of fabric used for Birkenstocks, then I suggest that you try and get another pair so that you can wear them again!
The good news is that there are a few easy steps you can take to make your Birkenstocks smell as good as new. Dry your shoes completely before wearing them. Wearing dry shoes will help prevent color change and make the soles stick better to your feet. Wear your shoes outside when the weather is nice and the air is dry. The leather in your shoes may be old, tattered, or worn out. Your shoes may not be worn properly. Your shoes should be able to fit properly with no pressure on the ball of your foot. Your shoes should be able to stand up on their own when you’re not wearing them. Your shoes may be broken or crumpled, which can cause them to smell. Good luck and stay safe out there!