Last Updated on September 3, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Birkenstocks have a good reputation for longevity and high-quality materials (which they should do at their price point) but how long should Birkenstocks last? Do they have a lifetime guarantee or are you going to be buying a new pair of sandals every summer?
Here’s what I know about their durability and what you can do to extend their life with my simple maintenance and care tips.
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Are Birkenstocks Good for Life?
Ok, let’s start by busting one of the first myths. Are Birkenstocks good for life?
The reality is that there isn’t a pair of shoes on the planet that is going to last you an average lifetime. Shoes and sandals naturally have a life span and whilst repairs can prolong the period you can wear them for they will eventually wear out in the end.
Of course, with any shoe, the amount of time they will last very much depends on how much you wear them and how hard you are on your footwear.
I polled a group of my friends and found that most found their new Birkenstocks lasted with normal wear for two or three summers before they started to show real signs of problems.
The wear and tear were significantly less for people with more than one pair. By alternating their Birkenstock sandals some of my friends realized they had pairs in their closet that were well over five years old.
Birkenstock Warranty and Repair
So you might be wondering if Birkenstock don’t offer a lifetime guarantee do they have some form of warranty or repair system?
Well if you are buying directly from Birkenstock footwear there are no warranty or guarantees other than what you would normally get under consumer law in your country. This might differ if you buy from another seller but it is unlikely.
Birkenstocks do however offer repairs in some of its stores (the footwear will probably need to be sent away). There are also independent repair shops that can also do the job as well.
Whilst repairs are great in terms of sustainability they aren’t usually so great in terms of your wallet. Significant Birkenstock repairs can cost almost as much as a new pair of sandals especially if you are changing the soles and cork footbeds. This is a steep cost especially when cheaper look-a-like brands such as Cushionaire are making similar sandals for half the price of a repair.
When you understand the cost of repair and the lack of warranty it makes more sense than ever to look after your Birkenstock shoes and sandals so that get as much wear out of them as possible.
When Should I Replace My Birkenstocks?
Knowing when to replace your Birkenstocks shouldn’t be too difficult to determine. These are some of the clear signs that will tell you that they need a major repair or you need to purchase a new pair of Birkenstocks.
Is it Worth It To Resole Birkenstocks?
Birkenstocks can start to wear down as far as the cork footbed. Try and get the sole replaced before that happens otherwise the repair becomes more major if you allow the wear and tear to reach the cork footbed. Once you have allowed the cork footbed to wear down as well the costs for repair rise significantly.
With proper care, the cork sole can last for a reasonable period of time especially if you use Birkenstock cork sealer. However, after a number of years, it isn’t unusual for the cork footbed to start cracking at the point where you flex your foot. The cork can be patch repaired or completely replaced but it is costly. My view is that the costs are almost the same as getting a new pair so it doesn’t always make a great investment unless you can find a local cobbler who repairs more cheaply.
Leather Strap Problems
The straps of the sandals can start to come away from the sole over time. These can also be replaced or repaired. If the straps become too worn or dirty it might be time for some new sandals.
The footbed and the leather on Birkenstocks sandals can become stained over time. Saddle soap can help clean the leather and remove dirt. In many cases, stains can be cleaned without the need for new sandals.
Birkenstocks are built to last but after you have worn them regularly for two or three years they do start to look past their best. Whilst repairers can do a great job at making them look good again the costs are expensive especially when the footbed needs replacing. This is the point where I would buy a new pair.
Why Did My Birkenstocks Crack?
The cork on the footbed will eventually crack with regular use but a number of issues make this more likely to happen more quickly.
Heat in particular is not great if you want your Birkenstocks to last. So don’t leave them in hot cars or in front of fires or radiators.
If they do get wet they need to air dry naturally away from direct sunlight. The sandals are not a lover of water so try and avoid wearing them in wet and damp conditions where possible.
Also, make sure you buy the correct size of Birkenstocks because if you don’t the footbed will flex more if you try and keep them on your feet. This causes cracking much sooner which is expensive to fix.
How Often Should You Reseal Birkenstocks?
How long should Birkenstocks last? Well a lot longer if you look after the cork.
You may not know it but every pair of Birkenstock sandals with a cork bottom has had cork sealant applied to it to help stop the cork from drying out. Most people don’t realize that this should be reapplied at least once every six months.
It is a really simple job to do and can help to really prolong the life of your sandals.
Tips To Make Your Birkenstocks Last Longer
How long should Birkenstocks last very much depends on your usage and how you care for your sandals. There are plenty of things that you can do to make a pair of Birkenstocks last significantly longer. Here are some of the things I recommend to help keep your Birks looking good.
Use a Protective Spray
Protecting your sandals makes sense as it will make them last much longer for little cost. Use a water and stain-repellent spray that is made for leather and suede to help. Stain repellent won’t solve every problem but if you use it on a brand new pair of Birkenstocks the layer of protection should be enough to limit damage.
Try Not To Get Them Wet
Whilst your Birks can withstand a quick shower they really aren’t designed for wet weather or for wearing at the pool. If you want ones that can deal with the wet buy a pair of the EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) styles they make.
As I mentioned earlier do not dry wet Birkenstocks near radiators or fires as they will dry out too fast. Air-dry them away from sunlight and don’t be tempted to wear them if they are still damp.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
As many people have found leaving your Birks in extreme heat like a hot car on a summer’s day or in front of direct heat like a fire can dry out the cork faster and ruin them completely.
These are sandals that don’t like extremes of anything so don’t treat them as if you can do anything to them and they will be ok.
Rotate Your Sandals
As most of my friends found alternating their Birkenstocks made them last longer. A rule of thumb is not to wear the same pair for two days in a row.
This allows them to dry out properly from your sweating feet and recover their shape.
Keep Them Clean
One of the best habits I have when it comes to my house, clothes and shoes is keeping them clean. Taking the time to look after my possessions has made a huge difference in how long they last.
So if you find that your Birkenstocks are dirty after wearing them get out a brush and remove the dirt and debris. Get a damp cloth and wipe down the footbed and straps. Doing this means that they will last considerably longer so you can keep them for many years to come.
Store Them Properly
When they clean make sure you store them somewhere away from sunlight and extreme temperatures. A cool closet with decent airflow is usually a good place.
Don’t pile other shoes and boots on top of them. Allow them space to breathe. I use shoe racks inside some of my closets to make sure they get the airflow they need and have space away from other shoes.
Keeping Your Birkenstocks Looking Good
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