Birkenstock sandals are great summer footwear but as with anything in life they aren’t perfect. For some people, the sandals have a nasty habit of leaving marks on your feet. If you want to know how to stop Birkenstocks staining feet and why it happens in the first place here’s what you need to know about this annoying problem.
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Do Birkenstocks Stain?
So let’s start by talking about the issue of staining. Does this happen to everyone?
Well, the answer is not everyone will get stained feet from Birkenstock footwear. There are a number of issues that create the problem and this means that not everyone is going to experience marks on their feet. If you wear socks with Birkenstocks for example you aren’t going to have the problem.
The key to stopping the problem is finding out the specific cause of your problem. Here are some of the common reasons why you might find your sandals are causing stubborn stains on your feet.
Most people get sweaty feet in the summer months especially in humid conditions and in very hot weather. That sweat sinks into the footbed of your Birkenstocks and mixes with the natural oils in the leather footbed which can cause unsightly stains.
If you have excessively sweaty feet because of an issue such as hyperhidrosis then that problem will be exacerbated.
On top of that the footbed of your Birkenstocks will already have dirt and dead skin cells on it which will have built up over time. Add that into the mix and you can see why Birkenstock footbeds can stain your feet.
Cleaning and Maintenance
If you are guilty of not taking time to remove dirt and grime from your shoes and sandals then expect the consequences.
You really do need to do regular cleaning and maintenance of your Birkenstocks to stop the build-up of odors, oils, and general dirt accumulating on the footbed and underneath the leather straps. If you don’t bother to take the time to look after your sandals then expect stains and marks appearing on your feet.
As I mentioned earlier Birkenstocks are a great sandal but they aren’t perfect. One of their problems is that some colors and styles are not always colorfast.
That means the dyes from the sandals may come off on your skin and cause stains on your feet after you have been wearing them.
I wear Birkenstocks primarily in summer but because I am so fair-skinned I always tend to use sunscreen lotion on my legs and feet to stop burning.
The problem is sunscreens, fake tans, and lotions can interact with the materials on your Birkenstocks and cause staining.
Birkenstocks staining feet is usually worse when water exposure has been involved.
If you have worn your Birks in the rain then that can cause problems. Or if you have worn them with wet feet then that also causes problems. Sweat is just another form of moisture that also causes issues.
Keeping your Birkenstock shoes and sandals dry is important as it goes a long way to stopping the footwear from staining feet.
Why Do Birkenstocks Turn Black?
Birkenstocks are a classic example of sandals that look great when you buy them but over time the footbed starts to change color which can gross people out.
Part of the reason for this color change is that we secrete oil from our feet especially when we sweat and then this ends up in the footbed. The oil reacts with the cork, jute, and leather and the blackening starts to appear.
These black stains get worse if you never bother to wipe or clean your Birkenstocks after you have used them. This is because dirt and grime that you are going to get on your feet when you are out and about mix in with those oils and make the problem worse.
Taking time to clean Birkenstocks after each wear can help. If the thought of the black Birkenstock stains upset you too much think about buying a pair of EVA ones that won’t have the same problem.
How Do I Keep Birkenstocks From Staining My Feet?
To stop Birkenstocks staining feet you need to work out the reason what particular issue is causing your particular problem. I’ve given 5 potential reasons why you might experience stained feet to help you pinpoint the problem.
Each of these problems has a relatively simple solution that you can try to see if it stops your problem. Here’s what I would do in each scenario.
Stopping Sweaty Feet
Sweaty feet might be a hazard in warm weather but there are things you can do to mitigate the problem.
Washing and drying your feet thoroughly a few times a day can really make a difference. Try and use a foot soak like a tea tree and peppermint one to keep your feet smelling fresh and you can help to eliminate odors as well.
My secret weapon however that I rave about is Carpe Anti-Perspirant foot lotion. I go on about this regularly in my posts because it can help stop even the sweatiest feet in their tracks. Remember if you stop the moisture you may stop the staining.
It’s super simple to use and you only need a small amount to make a difference so it is my must-have for the warmer months.
Clean Your Sandals After Each Use
Whilst it’s great to wear sandals in the heat you can never really avoid getting dirt and grime on your feet when they are exposed to the elements. If you are wearing them in a particularly dusty, dirty or sandy place then your feet can look really grubby by the end of the day.
To get around this try and take off your Birkenstocks and brush off any loose debris with a soft brush. Use a clean cloth and some soap and water to wipe your feet regularly to get rid of the grime.
When you have finished wearing your shoes for the day think about doing a more thorough clean. I’ve got some methods to clean your Birkenstocks properly below.
Use a Water and Stain Repellent
If you use a water and stain repellent regularly on your footwear it creates a protective barrier on your sandals. This means that if you do experience sweaty feet or get caught in a rain shower you are more likely to stop Birkenstocks bleeding dye onto your feet.
There are plenty of products that are around to help which offer good protection but remember you will need to reapply regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Where possible avoid wearing your Birkenstocks around water as well to stop the possibility of staining.
Can You Wash Birkenstocks?
If you are going to clean your Birkenstocks do take the time to do it properly. One thing you shouldn’t do is use too much water when you are cleaning your Birkenstock shoes and sandals because that is a great way to make them deteriorate fast.
There are plenty of gentler ways to help get dirty Birkenstocks cleaner. Here are some easy ways to clean them to stop them staining your feet black or that strange orange color.
Birkenstock Cleaning Kit
Birkenstock actually sells a cleaning kit in their online store that you can use to remove dirt and stains from your shoes in addition to protecting them.
This particular kit comes with a water and stain-repellent spray, a cleaner and refresher, a cork sealer and a suede brush.
As Birkenstock shoes and sandals are relatively expensive it probably makes sense to use a kit like this to clean the footbed and protect the cork and leather. There are however other ways you can clean your sandals that are cheaper.
Just always remember to test an inconspicuous section of your sandals first in case of problems as what may work for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
Cleaning Birkenstocks with Baking Soda
This method isn’t necessarily my favorite because there is water involved. The key to not causing a problem is to mix water and baking soda together to form a paste and place it on the footbed. Try and make sure the mixture isn’t too runny.
Leave the paste to sit overnight and then wipe off the residue with a damp cloth the following morning. Let the Birkenstocks air dry naturally away from direct sunlight before wearing them again.
Alternatively, this is a method that I found to be one of the most effective for me.
Firstly I use a suede brush to get rid of any surface dirt and debris and then I get some very fine grit sandpaper and use it to remove the ingrained dirt from the footbed.
This takes a little elbow grease but if you gently scrub away at the footbed the grime will come off leaving you with a relatively clean soft surface below. When the footbeds are clean use a repellent spray to protect them in the future.
How to Clean Birkenstocks Footbed Without Baking Soda
If you want to try an alternative method to baking soda or the Birkenstocks cleaner then another alternative is to use white vinegar.
Just get a small cup and half-fill it with 50% water and 50% vinegar. Then either dip a soft cloth or an old toothbrush into the mixture and wipe or scrub down the inside of the footbed. Remember not to saturate the footbed.
When the whole lot is clean let your Birkenstocks air dry for at least 24 hours.
How To Remove Birkenstock Stains From Your Feet?
Birkenstocks staining feet doesn’t have to be a big deal if you know how to remove the marks. Here are some ways you can get the stains off your feet.
- Start with the obvious and wash your feet in a foot soak and warm water. Use an exfoliating foot scrub or a pumice stone to gently scrub away difficult stains.
- Lemon juice can be used as well. Place some on a cotton pad and rub it over your stained feet to see if it can get rid or lighten the stains.
- Baking soda may also work if you mix it into a paste with water and massage it into the stained skin. Leave it on for five minutes and then rinse it off.
- Finally, try hydrogen peroxide. Place some on a cotton pad and dab it onto the stained areas. Leave it for a few minutes and then rinse it with some water.
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