In 2015, Birkenstock sold Arizonas and Gizehs with a beautiful nubuck upper and a white sport sole. I have a pair of the Arizonas in red. I find that the white sport sole gets soiled easily. In June 2016, I made a video and wrote a blog on how to clean the white soles of these Birkenstocks.
I found that with a little elbow grease, one can make the white sole Birkenstocks look as good as new in no time.
In addition to cleaning the soles, the nubuck uppers need to be cleaned every couple of months because even the slightest soil spots can make the uppers look grubby. Before ever wearing my Arizonas with the nubuck uppers, I applied a stain guard to the leather. Even with this preventative measure, I find that the uppers still get filthy.
Nubuck uppers are made from top-grain cowhide and are buffed to create a soft, velvety finish. To clean this type of material one must brush the surface with a plastic bristle or leather cleaning brush. I do not have a leather cleaning brush at home, so I substitute by using an old toothbrush, a pumice stone, or some sandpaper to clean the uppers. I did purchase a $6 nubuck eraser for this project and found this to be money well spent. The eraser got rid of some of the most hard to remove soil spots on the nubuck.
Items Needed to Clean
3. Pumice Stone
4. Kiwi Suede Cleaner
5. Kiwi Stain Eraser
7. Kiwi Camp Dry
How To Clean Your Birkenstocks with Nubuck Uppers
1. Use a toothbrush to remove dirt from straps
2. Wipe away any excess dirt with a dry towel
3. Use the stain eraser to clean the toughest soiled areas
4. Gently wipe away additional stains with the pumice stone
5. For areas needing extra cleaning, use sandpaper (gently)
6. If stains or dirt remain, use the stain eraser a second time
7. Wipe away debris with a dry towel
8. Use the brush from the top of Kiwi Suede Cleaner bottle and brush the uppers
9. Lightly Spray the Uppers with the Kiwi Suede Cleaner
10. Wipe the straps clean with the brush from the top of Kiwi Suede Cleaner
11. Use a toothbrush to gently freshen the nap of the suede
12. Apply a water/stain protector to the clean uppers
Here is my video demonstrating this process:
Below are the pictures I took before and after cleaning the nubuck.
It should only take about 10 minutes to clean the nubuck. Even though I tend to rotate my Birkenstocks daily, I find that the Birks with the nubuck uppers require frequent cleaning. In fact, these are the highest maintenance Birkenstocks that I own. I am willing to take the time to clean these shoes because I absolutely love them. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to clean nubuck uppers.
I Love Birkenstocks…..and with a little elbow grease I can make them look like new in no time.
Birkenstock blogger since 2016.