Anybody who’s known me longer than 10 minutes probably already knows how I feel about Birkenstocks.
Birkies, once broken in, are the most comfortable thing in the known universe. I have two pairs, both clogs — a tan suede pair I bought back in 2000 to relieve a back problem caused by my unfortunate platform-heel phase of the late ’90s, and a dark charcoal-gray felt pair I bought in 2012 to comply with the dress code where I worked.
My older Birkenstocks, which are my daily drivers, serve as house slippers, garden clogs, work shoes, vacation companions and good-luck charms. They’ve moved with me at least three times, joined me on a couple of successful job interviews, and come along on too many road trips to count.
Birkies don’t ask much in return, but a little maintenance now and then helps extend their life.
By “maintenance,” I mean you should seal the cork once in a while when it starts to look dull. This takes about five minutes.
Birkenstock makes its own cork sealer, which I’ve used in the past, but I lost my last jar in a move, and the guy at Shawnee Trails told me Barge Cement — which is cheaper — actually works better and lasts longer. Shawnee Trails has been selling Birkenstocks for decades, so I’m inclined to trust their recommendations.
Barge Cement comes with all sorts of terrifying warnings on the label. I’m pretty sure most of the warnings are just there to discourage people from huffing glue, which is probably pointless, because if you’re huffing glue, the fact that it’s carcinogenic isn’t likely to discourage you, but if you’re worried about it, you can wear rubber gloves while you work. I’m not, so I didn’t; I just used a paintbrush to apply the glue and kept my fingers out of it. Anyway, as the police dispatchers say on the scanner: Proceed at your own discretion.
To seal your Birkenstocks, do the following:
1. Clean them. If they’re ridiculously muddy, hose them off; otherwise, you can just wipe them down with a wet paper towel.
2. Let them dry completely.
3. Squeeze a little bit of Barge Cement onto the cork and use a cheap foam paintbrush to spread it over all the exposed cork surfaces. If you notice cracks in the cork, work some of the adhesive in there, and if the insole is peeling up, be sure to glue it back down.
4. Let the cement cure overnight.
Repeat whenever the cork starts to look dull.
P.S.: As always, nobody paid me or gave me free stuff to get me to write this blog. But please feel free to contact me if you would like to give me free Birkenstocks.