With Birkenstocks being one of the hottest trends of the last five years, here are some frequently asked questions about fit and care on your favorite healthy footwear brand along with our most time-tested answers.
Birkenstock Comfort & Health
Firm Support For Your Feet
It would make sense to think that a softer and more “cushiony” shoe would be more comfortable. But in fact, the Birkenstock concept of comfort is based on ﬁrm, orthopedically correct support. As with a quality mattress, feet require solid support and correct positioning providing maximum comfort and health. Our footbed features proper arch support, a deep heel cup, and adequate room in the toe area – all to help distribute weight evenly for the entire foot. The result is improved posture and balance for greater comfort when walking.
Our Contoured Footbed Encourages Foot Health
The Birkenstock footbed is made of resilient cork/latex and is shaped to create a healthy walking environment for your feet. Additionally, the cork/latex blend is pliable and reacts to natural body warmth. Therefore, over time, the footbed yields to the characteristics of an individual foot. Many long-term Birkenstock wearers ﬁnd that the longer you wear them, the more comfortable they become. The shape of a Birkenstock follows the contours of a healthy foot.
Q: How big should I size my Birkenstocks? Should I leave extra space behind my heel?
A: Birkenstock fitting can be a very personal thing, as some wearers like to size a little big and leave extra space behind the heel and in front of the toes, while others like to size slightly smaller allowing for a snug, almost hug-like fit. When considering the length of your Birkenstocks, the most important factor to consider is where the arches of the sandals hit your feet.
In order to optimize the great support of your Birkenstocks, we recommend sizing so that your heel sits flush in the heel cup and your toes approach, but do not touch, the front lip. This type of fit will allow the arches of the footbed and the toe bar (the little bump that sits under your toes) to have a better chance of fitting you properly. Of course, Birkenstock fit and support can also be greatly affected by how snugly you fit the straps.
Fit the straps too loose, and your foot will slide around more on the footbed, affecting arch placement, support, and comfort. We have found over the years that it is best to have a relatively snug fit on your Birk straps, and the key is finding a happy medium between stability on the foot and comfort.
Q: What kind of leather do you use?
We only select the best and most beautiful types of leather for our shoes and we place especially great value in processing them in such a manner to make them uphold the tradition of Birkenstock’s original shoemakers.
Our leather is tanned using vegetable dyes, so no synthetic irritants are present against the skin. This also allows the pores of the leather to stay open and breathe actively. Some materials, like our oiled leather, showcase the raw grain and as such, is subject to subtle differences.
Q: Do soft footbed models fit differently than regular footbed models? What is the difference between soft and regular Birkenstocks?
A: The shape and size of a soft footbed is exactly the same as a regular (firm) footbed. However the cushier nature of the soft footbed can allow your foot to expand a bit more than a regular footbed. If you are at the upper limit of a size in a regular footbed, it is worth considering going up one size in a soft footbed.
In addition, Birki‘s soft base soles provide an extra layer of cushioning and comfort between the footbed and sole. This unique feature helps soften the impact of walking on hard surfaces while supporting the natural flexing motion of your foot.
Q: I have medium-width feet, but all I see are narrow sizes available in the sandal that I want. Can I wear a narrow in Birkenstock? Do all Birkenstocks come in narrow?
A: In wider-fitting styles such as the Arizona, Florida, and Milano, there is a good chance that you’ll fit into a narrow even if you have medium-width feet. A narrow in these styles can fit a women’s A-C width and a men’s B-D width. This is slightly different from what Birkenstock suggests, but after 30 years of fitting their shoes, this is our best estimate of how narrows fit in the Arizona, Florida, and Milano styles.
Q: I have narrow feet. Do some Birkenstocks run narrower than others?
A: Yes, the Gizeh and Mayari styles tend to run narrower than many other models. As a matter of fact, many of our customers that require a narrow width in a wider-fitting style like the Arizona, will actually fit into the regular width in the Gizeh and Mayari styles.
Q: I have a pair of Gizeh sandals, and the toe post is hurting the area between my toes. What should I do?
A: Though this is not a common problem, when the toe post (the piece of material that sits between your big toe and second toe) on a Gizeh sandal causes discomfort, it often occurs because the adjustable strap that goes over the instep is too loose, and the foot is sliding forward in the sandal. This forward sliding causes the webbing of the toes to bang into the toe post. If you are having this problem, start by completely opening the adjustable strap of your Gizeh sandals.
Slide your foot into the sandal, and make sure to slide your heel all the way back so that it is sitting flush in the heel cup of the sandal. Then, from a standing (weighted) position, and making sure that your heel is still all the way back in the sandal, pull the adjustable strap closed over the instep of your foot. Make sure that the strap is snug while you are in a standing position.
A snug instep strap will help to better hold your foot back in the sandal and can prevent your foot from sliding forward and banging into the toe post. If, after trying this technique, you are still experiencing discomfort, try wrapping the toe post with a softer material such as medical tape or a thin foam.
Q: I noticed that there are care products available for Birkenstocks. Does this mean that I need to spend a lot of time taking care of my Birks?
A: The care products that are available from Birkenstocks are all designed to prolong the life of your shoes and enhance your enjoyment. We have seen some customers wear their Birks for years without ever doing anything to them, and they are happy with their shoes. Obviously, the more you care for your shoes, the more life you’ll get out of them, so the choice is really up to you.
Probably the most important care process that we can recommend is using Cork Sealer regularly to help seal the area of exposed cork on your sandals/shoes. Regular sealing (once every few months if you wear the shoes every day) can greatly prolong the life of the soles of your shoes and can ensure long lasting support from the cork footbed.
Q: My Birkenstocks have developed dark brown spots on the footbeds. How do I remove these spots?
A: The Birkenstock Deluxe Shoe Care Kit comes with, among other very useful items, a Multi-Purpose Cleaning Tool and a bottle of Footbed Cleaner/Refresher. When used regularly, these items can help keep the footbeds of your Birks looking new and odor free. Another useful trick, for those of you who may have older Birks that have accumulated a lot of foot sweat and oils, is to use a small piece of fine grit sandpaper and literally sand the darkness off of the footbeds.
You’ll want to experiment with how hard and how much you need to sand, and you don’t want to go overboard and eat away too much from the leather. When done properly this process can remove much of the darkness from the insoles and can revive the natural knap of the leather as well.
Q: What happens when you get Birkenstocks wet?
A: While it is best to avoid prolonged exposure to rain and other moisture, Birkenstocks can get wet on occasion and still last for years with proper care. Many of our customers think that their Birkenstocks will get ruined if they get wet once or twice in the rain, and this is generally not the case. If you do get caught in the rain in your Birks, fear not! Simply dry them in a shaded place away from any heat sources.
If you have clogs or shoes, insert wadded newspapers into the shoes, and the paper will help soak up the extra moisture. Do not dry your Birks near a stove, fireplace, radiator, or any other heat source. This can cause shrinkage in the soles. After your Birks have dried, apply Birkenstock Stain and Water Repellent, available as part of the Deluxe Shoe Care Kit.