Why Do Birkenstocks Turn Black? 2023

No one likes it when their footwear turns black and dull. Birkenstocks have been in trend for years yet they can cause some disappointment after a while of use. These German shoes are mostly made of cork and leather and need a specific maintenance or else they would turn black. This comfortable footwear is preferred by people of all ages and is regularly used. The main cause of the darkening phenomenon is due to the oils from our sweaty feet than come in contact with the shoes. But if certain necessary steps are taken to maintain them then they can be further used before they are worn out. This article has a definite answer to all who are curious about the question, “Why do Birkenstocks Turn Black?” and other queries they have regarding it.

Do Birkenstocks Turn Black?

How To Clean Birkenstocks Footbed?

Birkenstocks have made a place in the hearts of people worldwide due to being both trendy and classical. They may last years but they are well known for getting their footbeds dirty easily. There are a few steps one has to follow to remove the stains on their footbeds.

There are also a few steps that can avoid getting the stains of these Birkenstocks as well. This method requires a mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 2 tablespoons of water. The first step would be to remove any loose dirt on the shoes and make sure they are dry.

One then simply has to apply the baking soda paste on the footbed and then use a brush on a clean cloth to scrub gently on them. In case one does not have a suede brush they can simply make use of any old toothbrush.

Use gentle and circular motions while scrubbing. Finally use a damp cloth to clean and apply the rest of the paste to the footbeds. Leave then to dry overnight for hours. Wipe it with a damp cloth and let the shoes dry completely.

In case there are only a few stains one can simply use soap with water. While drying it is advised to avoid direct sunlight as that would result in cracking or dry rot.

Do Birkenstocks Mold To Your Feet?

Birkenstocks are the type of footwear that needs to be broken into. The reason for this is to allow the footbed of these shoes some time to mold to one’s feet.

The very first experience in these shoes might be uncomfortable and unpleasant due to their rigid soles. It is only after a while that they will start to get comfortable as they slowly mold into the user’s feet. As claimed by most of its loyal customers, the initial discomfort is worth the later results.

The process might be worse for some people and there have been complaints about it even drawing blood. But Birkenstocks are also the kind of footwear that have been recommended by many podiatrists because them having soft footbeds along with a raised foot arch.

This is what makes these shoes comfortable for both people with and without flat feet. They also claim that Birkenstocks help is improving one’s posture. After a while of use, the footbed made of cork and jute slowly molds to the feet and forms an imprint on the footbed. It is only then that they get so comfortable that it can hardly be felt. 

Why Do My Birkenstocks Smell?

Birkenstocks are usually made of jute, cork, suede, and latex. When exposed to the natural elements, sweat, and bare feet they tend to get smelly over time. This happens when after a while of using Birkenstocks the feet leave impressions on them due to being embedded.

This in turn results in the feet to sweat which then seeps into the footbed of these shoes. The smell gets worse during summer days, after exercising, or simply after being worn for hours at a time and no one would appreciate a pair of smelly shoes.

One can clean their Birkenstocks regularly to get rid of the smell. If that doesn’t work and the shoes might still get smelly. To make Birkenstocks smell fresh one has to follow certain instructions: Birkenstock cleaner and refresher can be used to red rid of the bad odor.

Birkenstock makes its cleaning products to maintain the cleanliness and freshness of its shoes. One just has to spray it all over the shoes and let them dry. Just like sunlight freshens and dries clothes, it can also do so for shoes.

Birkenstocks can simply be kept under the sunlight to get rid of the smell. But one is advised to not leave them under strong sunlight or heat. This would further cause damage to these shoes.

It is best to dry them someplace indoors or under a shade with soft sunlight after wiping them with a cloth. One can also either use baking soda, white vinegar, or rubbing alcohol for getting rid of the bad smell.

How Long Does It Take Birkenstocks To Mold To Your Feet?

The break in period of Birkenstock shoes is not the same for everyone as it depends on how much they are worn daily and how they are maintained. But on average it takes about 2 to 3 weeks for these shoes to mold into one’s feet. If used daily they can be broken into as fast as a week.

The time may also differ depending on how soft or hard the footbed is. The softer ones take lesser time than the other ones. The process can get a little uncomfortable so there are a few ways through which it can be made faster a bit.

  • To buy the Birkenstock that fits. The wrong size or incorrect width can make the breaking in process hard and painful.
  • Use socks every time before wearing Birkenstock.
  • Wear them regularly. But to keep in mind that the time wore should be increased gradually and not at once. For example, to wear it for half an hour on the first day, an hour on the second day, and so on.
  • Purchase Birkenstocks that have a softer footbed.
  • Properly adjust the straps of Birkenstock before going out so that the shoes are neither too tight nor too loose.

Can You Replace Soles On Birkenstocks?

Birkenstocks are known for their durability as customers have claimed them to last longer than other sandals available in the market. But when it comes to getting worn out, they are just like any other shoes.

This usually depends on two factors i.e. how often they are used and how they are maintained. These sandals would last much longer after a bit of repairing that would include the resoling or replacing the footbed.

All shoes of Birkenstock have soles that can be replaced when worn out. One doesn’t need to replace the soles sooner if they take proper care of their Birkenstocks. There are also a few points that can help delay this process of replacement.

Since strong sunlight or heat can damage the footbed they should be avoided. Neither should they be kept in direct sunlight during the hot summer nor be exposed to direct heat if they get wet.

A complete footbed replacement is recommended when the sole and the tread is worn down to about a centimeter or the pattern loses visibility. The advantages of resolving a Birkenstock are:

  • Environmental friendly
  • The shoes can be used for a long period of time.
  • Extra support and comfort
  • The quality of the shoes is maintained

How Do You Remove Black Stains From Birkenstocks?

Birkenstocks are famous for their smelly footbeds and stains. But both of them can be taken care of if they are maintained properly. When Birkenstocks are worn for long periods of time it makes one’s feet sweaty and the sweat secreted in turn seeps into the shoes and forms black stains.

The sight is unpleasant to anyone and so there are DIY cleaning processes one can follow at home to bring back the original glory of their Birkenstocks. A paste of baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and water, a clean cloth, and a simple old toothbrush would do the trick.

First, the paste should be applied to the stains, and then they should be scrubbed gently with the brush. The shoes should then be wiped with a wet cloth. The rest of the paste should be applied to the shoes and they should be kept that way overnight.

The next morning they should be wiped clean and then air dried. This would make any Birkenstock cleaner than before. A suede brush should be used for cleaning suede Birkenstocks. For removal of oil stains, cornstarch should be sprinkled over them which would in turn absorb all the oil.

Then the shoes can simply be brushed clean. If the stains remain then the process can simply be repeated once more. White vinegar can be used for persistent stains.

Why Do Birkenstocks Make Your Feet Orange?

There have been also some reviews from customers that their feet turn orange after wearing Birkenstocks. The main reason for this is sweaty feet during humid weather. Birkenstocks are made up of cork, leather, sealant, and jute.

In the case of colored leather shoes when they are saturated due to sweaty feet, the dye can leach out. This dye would then color the feet orange or any color the shoe was. There are a few DIY methods one can try to prevent them.

To set the dye of these shoes the footbed should be sprayed with the mixture of water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio and then dried indoors away from direct sunlight. To avoid such an occurrence one can also simply wear socks or keep dried feet dry.

For the feet that have already been stained orange, the stained area can simply be soaked in washing powder. Birkenstocks should be kept dry so they should be wiped with paper towels before use. A simple application of Stain Repellent or Birkenstock water should help further. 


  1. What is the best way to remove oil stains from Birkenstocks?

    The best way to remove the ugly oil stains from their Birkenstock is to remove the dust from them then gently, apply a mixture of baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and water to them. Then scrub them lightly and wipe off the paste. Air dry them and they’ll be ready for the next use.

  2. What is the best way to clean Birkenstock straps?

    The leather straps of Birkenstocks should be wiped cleaner with leather cleaner and a clean wet cloth. One should be careful to not make the shoes too wet. Once the shoes are dry, the lather polish should be applied to the straps.


Over time with continuous use, Birkenstocks turn black because of oil exposure. The sweat and secretions from the feet seep into the footbed and result in black stains. Anyone who has used Birkenstocks knows the answer to the question, “Why do Birkenstocks turn black?”.

This can be remedied by regular maintenance of the footbed through the cleaning or one can simply replace them. This can also be prevented or at least delayed by keeping Birkenstocks away from moisture and heat.

One can also wear socks while using Birkenstocks so the shoes do not come in contact with sweat. Birkenstocks should be kept in a dry place after shaking off the dust and dirt from them every time they are used.

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