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The Best Way to Clean Vibram Five Finger VFF Shoes

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by melbo, Aug 31, 2014.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    2013-06-01. Cleaning Vibram 5 Fingers. If you wear VFFs, you can skip down to the steps as you already know the problem with this amazing invention in footwear.

    For those that need some background, VFFs are toe shoes in the Minimalist category. They are as close to walking barefoot as possible and allow you to walk as a biped should: ball first, heel second. They also allow you to use all of the muscles in your feet for balance, agility and speed. Once you go VFF, you realize that wearing boots or shoes is about the same as wearing mittens on your hands.

    The problem is that they reek after a few days. I'm not just talking stinky feet - they make your feet smell like an 80 year old turtle that just crawled out of a Louisiana swamp, found a spot in the hot sun and died. My wife makes me head straight to the tub for a foot wash every night when I get home from the office. I have a bunch of pairs which is necessary so that I can rotate them before wash day. I think I get about 2-3 wears per pair depending on what I'm doing while wearing them.


    What you'll need:
    • Toothbrush - I save old toothbrushes for cleaning things like VFFs and Colt M4s ;)
    • Dish soap
    • Hot water - My tap water is 128F or 53C
    • Denture cleaning tablets like Efferdent or any generic brand
    • Sunshine

    Washing Instructions:

    First rinse your shoes out with hot water. If the water is too hot (boiling), it will melt the glue that holds the sole to the shoe. I use tap water at 128F and have only had a problem when I ruined a couple of pairs by washing them in my washing machine on sterilize or NSF cycle. That was an expensive lesson...

    Next add a squirt of dish soap and scrub with a toothbrush. Use the toothbrush to get into each toe section and don't hesitate to do this a few times to make sure you've gotten everything as scrubbed-clean as possible. KSO EVO's shown

    photo 1.JPG

    Now rinse the soap out a few times until you stop seeing suds when water hits the shoe. Don't sniff them yet - we ain't done!

    photo 2.JPG

    Fill your sink with hot water, again the key is hot but not too hot. Place your shoes into the sink so that they are pretty much submerged with water. I've weighted them down with a pot lid before but please don't tell my wife that her cookware has come into contact with her arch nemesis, the VFFs.

    Add a denture cleaner tab to each shoe. I buy them in bulk packs of 120 tablets for around $8. Once the tablets start to fizz, I use a toothbrush to periodically push them back underwater as they'll want to float up a bit unless you have them weighted.

    photo 3.JPG

    Let them soak for an hour and then rinse each one off with more hot tap water. When finished, let them drain in the sink for awhile and then move into the sun to dry completely. DO NOT PLACE IN CLOTHES DRYER! This will melt the glue and cause them to fall apart. When it's winter here and too cold for outdoor drying, I place them on a Peets Boot Dryer overnight which does the trick. I wear the Lontra model in the winter as they're waterproof and insulated which also = yep, an even stinkier VFF.

    photo 4.JPG

    Hope this helps. Grok on!

    My current VFF of choice are the KSO EVOs which are the next generation of the KSO and include laces, a lighter material and a complete redesign which looks less like a water shoe and more like um, well, I'm not sure what to compare them to but they are awesome!! My wife still hates them...
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
  2. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

  3. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    No Shit, You wear those to work?
  4. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Not ready to sniff yet....LOL
  5. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I do but have boots under my desk for when I need to go into the field. My job doesn't really require me to work so I'm pretty flexible in my dress code.
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