How do you tell when your Birkenstocks are worn out?

We all want good- and fresh-looking Birks as they can boost our confidence when we are walking. However, they can look dull and worn out over time. Does this mean you need new Birks? 

Your Birkenstocks are worn out if they have a cracked cork, visible stains on the footbed liner and straps, peeling of footbed liner, loose and rusty buckles, erased imprints and sole pattern, separating sole and straps, loss of natural shearling, and discoloration. Have them repaired immediately if this is the case.

In this guide, we’ll share tips on how you can make your worn out Birks look new again! We’ll also help you identify if your Birks are too worn out to wear. 

Signs that Your Birkenstocks Are Looking Worn Out

The task of maintaining your Birks is both rewarding and challenging. You have to be keen on assessing whether or not they are perfectly fine. To know whether they are already worn out, check out for these signs.

1. Cracked cork

A cracked cork does not signal that your Birks are defective. They can still be used normally, but you must be careful of possible damage. To see if the corks are cracked, look at the footbeds. If they show cracks, the unpolished look may translate into a worn-out appearance.

Usually, the cracks are visible in the part where your foot bends. They can extend to the soles that may break your Birks into half. Once you see these, immediately look for a cork sealant available in the market, or seek repair from a credible shoe repair shop.

2. Visible stains on the footbed liner and straps

Straps are perhaps the first thing that others will see on your Birks. However, these are also the most susceptible to contracting dirt and stains. Usually, dust and mud are the common stains that can stick to your Birk straps.

Fresh-looking Birks should not only be fresh on the outside. The footbed liner can also get dirty. The stains can manifest into unwanted discoloration and stubborn patches caused by your sweat. Good thing that there are readily available cleaning remedies found in your kitchen, like baking soda and bleach.

3. Peeling of footbed liner

The topmost layer of the Birk footbed is made of suede. It is a type of leather, prone to peeling. Apart from looking worn out, this may also be an indication that the integrity of the suede is heavily damaged as it exposes the very meat of the footbed, including the foam padding and the layers of jute.

The peeling may cause discomfort to your feet as the eroding leather may stick to them, especially if they are sweaty. As a result, the foam padding can directly absorb your sweat, too, which can develop into a foul smell.

4. Loose and rusty buckles

Buckles are an important part of Birks responsible for having the right fit and grip. But if you walk often, they can get loose, and if they always get wet, they can develop rust. As a result, the texture and discoloration can make your Birks look overused and worn out. Worse, they might break and get detached while you are walking.

Even though buckles occupy only a small portion of the footwear, they are noticeable from afar. Always keeping them looking fresh plays a huge role in the beautiful appearance of your Birks. 

5. Erased imprints and sole pattern

A trademark of an authentic Birkenstock is its intricate logos and sole pattern. If you look closely into the footbed, you will see many logos that signal meanings. Having some erased marks not only questions authenticity but also reduces the freshness of your Birks. A reason behind this is your sweat slowly eating away the imprints.

Turn your Birks upside down. You will see an imprinted pattern on the sole that Birkenstock deliberately designed. Because of too much friction and contact with the ground, it can be rubbed out. In effect, this results in looking worn out and overused.

6. Separation between the sole and straps

The straps of your Birks are carefully attached to the sole. This assures the right fit for your feet whether they are sized regularly or narrowly. If you are starting to see signs of detachment and poor gluing, they may come across as worn out and not properly given care.

Another sign of the separation between the sole and straps is the feeling of a loosened-up fit. The force from walking may excessively stretch out the straps, resulting in detachment. To solve this, you can just glue them together again or let a shoe expert replace the straps.

7. Loss of natural shearling

Shearling is the skin of shorn sheep or lamb, processed and tanned for clothing. Shearling Birks are popular for having a fur-like appearance that is very comfortable to the touch. If you are noticing that they are getting thinner, your Birks might either look worn out or fake.

Instead of bringing comfort to your feet, they may be irritating to the touch because the balding natural shearling can be itchy. To solve this problem, the replacement of natural shearling is the best option. You can opt to go to a shoe shop for professional help.

8. Discoloration

Birkenstock only releases evenly colored footwear. But over time, they may have color changes that can look worn out. Observe the uppers and footbeds of your Birks. If you are seeing dry patches and smudges, possibly, they will eventually lead to discoloration.

Aside from the frequent usage of your Birks, the improper way of cleaning can also cause discoloration. Make sure to research the materials used in your Birks to exactly know how to clean them. Preserving their high-quality color is always the key to a brand-new appearance even months after you bought them.

Basic Birkenstock repair

Although Birks can get worn out after using them frequently, always remember that you can revive their original appearance. You can repair the damages by either doing it by yourself or seeking professional help. If you opt for the latter choice, here are some of the basic Birkenstock repairs that you can choose:

1. Footbed Unit Replacement

Whether your Birks have hard or soft footbeds, they must be in good condition as they are always in contact with your feet. If damaged, you can opt for footbed replacement to replenish its integrity and durability.

As footbeds and soles are considered footwear partners, this repair does not only replace the footbeds but also the footbed liners and soles. This is done to give your feet a good foundation to be worn anywhere and anytime. Note that the uppers, straps, and buckles will be retained.

2. Sole Replacement

Soles are always in contact with the ground. They are thick and sturdy enough to protect and support your feet when walking. But because of too much friction and pressure, they tend to get thinner which can affect the stability of your stance. 

Sole replacement is the best solution for this problem. It is up to you which type of sole to be used. If you want a very lightweight sole, you should choose the classic EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) version made of plastic. On the other hand, if you want a rubber outsole, Birkenstock’s SuperGrip is the one suited for you.

3. Toe Piece Repair and Replacement

The toe straps on your Birks help your toes to be stable and flexible. As much as they are glued very well, if you wear your Birks often, they can still be detached. Observe your Birks every time you bend your feet. If the toe straps are wobbly, they need to be immediately repaired.

There are two ways to do this repair. Firstly, the toe straps can be glued back to the sole. A special adhesive particularly made for shoe repair is advisable. However, if they are no longer revivable, the second option is to opt for a replacement already.

4. Buckle Replacement

Buckles, together with straps, are responsible for the fit and grip of Birks on your feet. However, they tend to be rusty and loose after getting exposed to water or moist environments. If these happen, buckle replacement should be done. 

Since buckles are only small in size, it is much better to get them replaced once damaged. Remember that you do not have to necessarily replace the old buckles with the same ones. If you value style, you can choose a different type of buckle and color, too. 

5. Leather Patching

The leather uppers of your Birks are prone to damage as they are exposed to the outside environment. They can peel and have cracks, causing a worn-out look. To repair this, leather patching is the ideal solution.

This repair involves an intricate process. You may do this on your own as long as you have a repair kit, but it is much better to have a professional handle leather patching. Leather is a complex material that should be delicately handled. The patching and gluing processes, among others, need to be precisely done which a shoe expert can do.

6. Cork Repair

Cork is the foundation of Birk footbeds. It is responsible for absorbing shocks and pressure from walking. But sadly, it can be damaged, too, like getting cracks over time. Repairing it may save you even more money than buying a new pair of Birks.

Cork repair is a complex process. Cork and latex are usually remolded through the use of heat to patch and refill the visible damages on the cork. This requires a professional shoe repair expert because doing this on your own might be too dangerous and can aggravate the damage even more.

7. Dog Chew Repair

Dogs are considered man’s best friend. True enough, they are now allowed to roam around the house. But if they are too active and aggressive, they might just bite your Birks out of nowhere. Thus, this calls for an intensive repair.

The bite marks of dogs on Birks are usually deep and wide. They can affect almost all of the parts of the footwear, like the uppers, straps, footbeds, and soles. 

Dog chew repair is best handled by a professional shoe repair expert. However, if the damage is very bad, probably, it is best to just buy a new pair of Birks.

Tips on how to maintain the quality of Birkenstocks

Without a doubt, we all want to preserve the quality of our Birks. However, using them often can inevitably cause them to get worn out. To slow this down, follow these tips:

  • Do not expose your Birks to high temperatures. The materials used in your Birks can lose integrity because of high levels of heat. Placing them under direct and harsh sunlight is not recommended.
  • Do not immerse your Birks in water. Long exposures to water can weaken your Birks, too. This is why it is not advisable to wash them using a washing machine.
  • Clean your Birks regularly and properly. Know the materials used in your Birks so that you can identify the right cleaning process that you should do.
  • Let your Birks breathe from time to time. This means that giving them a rest is good. 1–2 days of rest in a week can already work.
  • Seek help from a professional shoe repair expert. Although some repairs can be done alone, if the damage is severe, it is best to get professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Birkenstocks good for life?

Unfortunately, no Birks are good to be worn for life. As much as they are made using the best and most high-quality materials, they tend to get worn out over time. However, you can make them last for a very long time by properly caring for them. You can prevent them from looking worn out, too.

Do podiatrists recommend Birkenstocks?

Yes. Podiatrists recommend Birks to be the go-to footwear for everyone. They are incredibly durable, comfortable, and anatomically right to give our feet not just style but also health benefits, especially for those who have foot problems like flat feet

Are Your Birks Worn Out? Final Thoughts…

As mentioned in this guide, some tell-tale signs that your Birks are worn out are a cracked cork, visible stains on the footbed liner and straps, peeling of footbed liner, loose and rusty buckles, erased imprints and sole pattern, a separation between the sole and straps, loss of natural shearling, or discoloration. But this doesn’t mean that your Birks are beyond repair.

You can do the minor repairs and ask a professional to assess your Birks for major issues. If there’s really nothing you can do, just buy a new pair! For sure it’ll last you for years just like the previous one.

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