New to Birkenstock? Here's what you need to know

As a longtime retailer of the brand, we’ve helped thousands of people with their first pair of Birkenstocks over the years. We wanted to put together a list of the most important things you should know when you’re dipping your toe into the world of Birkenstock.

1) First and foremost….and we cannot emphasize this enough……YOU MUST BREAK THEM IN!

Yes, Birkenstocks need to be broken in.

Yes, your feet may ache during the process.

No, it doesn’t mean you wasted $100+ on the wrong shoes.

As you know, Birkenstocks are not traditional shoes.  The combination of cork and latex, with the contoured footbed, is specifically designed to evenly distribute your body weight throughout your entire foot, rather than on specific pressure points (such as the heel, ball of the foot, etc).

As you break them in, your body heat warms up the latex, which helps the cork mold to your feet, resulting in a personalized and custom fit that delivers unmatched support and all-day comfort.  Pretty ingenious, isn’t it?

I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks for over 20 years and have had to break in every new pair. The following break-in process is the same one I've recommended to thousands of people over the years. It’s pretty simple really. All you need to do is gradually increase the amount of time you’re wearing them for the first week or so.  

  • Day 1: Wear them for a few hours OR until your feet tell you it’s time to take them off. Most people (me included) feel some tenderness in the arch of their foot. When this happens, swap them out for another pair of shoes and come back to them the next day.
  • Day 2: Repeat the process of Day 1. You may be able to wear them longer than you did on Day 1, you may not. It’s okay.
  • Day 3: Repeat days 1 & 2. (You see where I’m going with this, right?)

By the end of the first seven to ten days you’ll likely be able to wear them most of, if not all of the  day, without any pain.

That's all. Don't soak them in water as it will not help. Birkenstocks are not designed to be immersed in water, so doing this will just damage your leather and dry out the cork, so please don’t do it!

2) You have to love your Birks!

Okay, so your shoes are broken in and you can comfortably wear them for hours. Now, it's time to learn about how you can take care of them so you can continue to enjoy them for years.

Cork Sealer:

See the glaze that’s on your cork? That’s a sealant that’s applied at the factory, which seals the cork and protects it from the elements.

Over time, you will see that glaze fade into a matte finish. The time-frame for this is different for everyone.

When this happens, the cork needs to be resealed. You’ll need to pick up a container of Cork Sealant and apply a light coating.

Note: This is mainly for people who have sandals or clogs with exposed cork like the Birkenstock Arizona or Boston.

Water & Stain Repellent:

Treating any leather product with a Water & Stain Repellent periodically is always a good idea. We recommend that you reapply every few weeks of regular use as the coating will eventually dissipate.

Birkenstock has their own Water & Stain Repellent, available in the Deluxe Care Kit, but any brand that you have should work just the same. We’ve never seen a difference in performance between the different brands we’ve carried over the years. Just make sure that it is intended for use on Leather/Suede/Nubuck and not expired.

3) Refurbish, not rubbish!

Yes, almost all Birkenstock shoes and sandals are fully repairable.

Anything from replacing a simple buckle, to taking the leather off and putting it on a brand new footbed, is possible through authorized Birkenstock repair facilities. There is of course a cost associated with each repair, but we always encourage people to keep the option in mind.

With proper care, we’ve seen numerous pairs that have been worn for over 20 years!

4) Got them wet? Don't fret.

While Birkenstocks are not meant for water, they will not be ruined if they get wet…...within reason.

Should you get caught in a downpour, or get pushed into a pool with them on, just put them in a corner at room temperature and let them air dry naturally.

Don't put them in the sun. Don't try to blow dry them. Don't put them in the dryer (yes, we've seen it). All of these actually have a better chance of damaging the shoes more than drying them.

While you may be able to salvage accidentally soaked Birks, this doesn’t mean you can wear them as water shoes! Our best advice is always to keep them out of water as much as you can.

5) Always keep your cool!

You wouldn’t want to be stuck in the car on a hot summer day would you? Neither do your Birkenstocks.

While cork is an incredible material that makes Birkenstocks lightweight, sustainable, and comfortable, it’s also a natural material that is not made to withstand extreme heat. It can do damage the cork itself, but also cause the glue which holds everything together to degrade and the sole of your Birkenstocks to shrink/separate from the cork. So try and avoid repeated long-term exposure to extreme heat (such as leaving them in a hot car in the summer for several days). 

That about sums it up! With these tips, you should have all the information you need to know to enjoy your Birkenstocks for years and years to come.

Have suggestions for more blog topics, or questions about our shoes?  Contact us anytime at

Until next time, keep walking!

Yours Truly,

The Walking Depot Family

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