Can this be gross? Yes, it definitely can be.
But we have some tips and suggestions to make this
process a little easier.
First off, please DO NOT USE water on your footbeds. Most of the videos or instructions I have seen on the internet have you taking water and baking soda to your shoes using a toothbrush to clean them. Unless you have the vegan upper (which will have green writing in the footbed), that trick really isn't going to work. PLUS you need to be so careful with the amount of water you're using.
The cork footbed has layers. A couple of these layers don't work well with water.
from bottom up:
Cork and Latex
Another Jute layer
Foam Insert - on Soft Footbeds
Suedes generally don't react well with water. It tends to make them dry and crusty. The thing most people forget that suede is skin. I know - gross. But when suede gets repeatedly exposed to water, they will dry out and feel hard.
The Cork and Latex footbed also does not do well with water. The cork will absorb the water, expand and pop the latex. Then the cork will start to deteriorate and shred out of your shoe. Some of the wear on the above shoe could just be regular wear and tear - but I would wager they got wet at some point. These are not the worst I have seen - just the worst picture I could find.
So after you've worn them for a while the footbeds will show your footprint and/or get dirty. There is no getting around it. The suede liner in the footbed is designed to absorb the sweat and natural oils from your feet. (same way your carpets do at home). They can start to get funky after awhile - sometimes it's dirt from walking around or maybe your foot sweats a lot. At some point - I call it saturation point - cleaning them isn't working anymore and they are staining your feet. At that point it time for a new footbed. (Take a look at our repair page for more info).
You will need some supplies in order to take care of them. Some of these items you might already own, but rest assured you can also use most of these items on other things in your house - couches, jackets, purses, belts, decorative pillows other shoes and boots - so its not going to be list of stuff you will never use again for anything else.
180 - 220 grit seems to do the trick
Suede Brush: Gets into the nook and crannies
Birkenstock Kit: Has the cleaner & refresher
and the brush
Suede Kit: Cleaning Block and nylon brush
Footbed Cleaner: cleaner and deodorizer
Cleaning the footbed is relatively simply - just messy!
Open up straps and start scrubbing the liner with sand paper. You don't need to scrub super hard. Just trying to get up as much of the dark areas as possible.
Do entire footbed.
You can use a nubuck block to smooth out some of the areas and get into places you couldn't with the sand paper OR you can use the 2 way brush that comes separately or in the Birkenstock Care Kit and do the same thing.
Last step is to use your brush to get all the erased remnants out of the footbed as well as any remaining dust or dirt to make it ready to wear.
It may feel a little rough against your foot to start like it did when you first bought them, but they will get your footprint back in them within a few days. You have now successfully cleaned your Birkenstock footbed!
Need a visual?
Check out our Youtube video
to see how to clean the footbed of a Birkenstock start to finish.
Now if you don't want to clean your footbeds - we do have an alternative. Soxsols is a product that was designed in the northwest with inspiration from a Birkenstock store. They are liners that you can put in your sandals (or shoes) that will absorb the sweat and dirt that would normally get ground into your footbed. They have a silicon back that sticks to the footbed without leaving any residue. Then you toss them in the wash. Crazy huh? GENIUS!!
You can use them with a new pair or an old - it doesn't matter. For many of our clients it has greatly expanded the life of their shoes and gotten rid of an unsightly problem that they hate other people seeing. Check them out, The wool liner is our most popular but we also have cotton for those who have wool allergies.
Not sure if it will work? If you have any questions bring your sandals or shoes into the store and we will take a look. We don't guarantee that your footbed will be like new - but we will definitely help you figure out if you want to clean, repair or try a Soxsol.
Hope this helps!
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