Shoes put in hard work daily, helping people navigate crowded city sidewalks, fields of mud, surprise rainstorms, and much more. Just like with clothes, a few proactive measures go a long way in keeping your footwear looking fresh. Bonus: Extending shoes’ lifespan is also budget-friendly and environmentally friendly.
Store Shoes in Cool, Dry Places
Cool, dry spots are ideal for shoe storage. Shelves or cubbies work great. You can keep shoes in the boxes they came in if space permits, but use photos or labels so you can easily grab your shoes when needed. Shoe bags with many pockets are an effective solution for small spaces, as are shoe racks or shelves. There’s more to storage, though.
- Keep a shoe care kit close to your shoes.
- Clean shoes before storing them or wipe dirt off footwear to prevent drying and staining.
- Stuff shoes with tissue paper or shoe trees to maintain their shape.
Gather Items for a Shoe Care Kit
Clean cotton cloths, waterproofing sprays, and shoe polish (in the same color as your shoes) are some items to include in a shoe care kit. Suede soap, leather cleaner, and horsehair buffing brushes are helpful, too. Make sure you have applicator brushes for each polish or cream color you use.
Clean Your White Shoes
Don’t treat white shoes as a lost cause! For example, here’s how to clean white Vans: Remove loose dirt with a baby’s hair brush or old toothbrush then try one of several DIY approaches.
One is to use dye-free dish soap. Wet a cloth with warm water, and mix a few drops of dish soap into the cloth. Use the cloth to clean the shoes’ surfaces. If dish soap does not get the job done, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, white toothpaste, magic eraser, or shoe whitening polish may do the trick. Whichever method you use, rinse the footwear with warm water and let the shoes air dry.
The method of cleaning depends on the type of shoes, too. For example, you should use a suede cleaner and a soft brush with suede Vans.
Use Shoe Protector Sprays
Sprays dry quickly and protect shoes against rain, ice, salt, and stains. You can use them on leather, canvas, nubuck, suede, and other materials. To be safe, though, check spray bottles before spraying your shoes to make sure you do not accidentally damage the footwear.
Conditioning creams are an alternative to sprays. You may want to go the conditioning cream route if you want your shoes to be moisturized (as might be the case with leather). Cream also polishes and adds color.
Take Other Preventive Care Measures
When you get new shoes is the best time to take preventive methods. For example, waterproof leather soles, rubber taps for pointed toes, and professionally installed sole protectors keep your shoes in excellent shape for a longer time.
Try wearing suede shoes only on dry days. To clean them, use suede shampoos, gentle brushes, and suede conditioners. Patent leather also doesn’t do well getting wet, so clean it with one drop of soap and water and a soft cloth.
For leather shoes, shoe cream, wax polish, and horsehair brushes can inject new life into the shoes.
Help Boots Maintain Their Shape
If you have soft-legged boots, heavy magazines folded into tubes help the boots maintain their shape. The magazines ensure the boots keep standing without crinkling.
When your boots get wet, turn them upside down and fit them over two empty bottles to help them dry out. (This works with shorter boots and may not be effective with tall boots.)
Remember That Smell Matters
Fresh-smelling shoes are part of a shoe’s spiffiness. To ward off bad odors, place tea bags in shoes overnight or in between workouts. Baking soda and deodorizing sprays can work, too.
Taking care of your feet may be necessary as well. Antibacterial soap does wonders in humid weather, although it’s essential to completely dry your feet and in between your toes. Change your socks multiple times a day if you need to.
It’s also fine to wash the insoles of sneakers. However, wash them in cool water by hand and let them air dry completely before reinserting them into the shoes.
Take Care of Rubber Boots
Even rubber boots, which are constructed to withstand the elements, benefit from tender loving care. A little bit helps them retain their sparkle! When you go out in mud or winter salt, rinse the boots off. A brush takes care of dried mud and grime, as can following up with dish soap if the brush did not completely work to restore luster.
Important: If your boots have patterns, do spot tests to ensure your endeavors don’t accidentally rub part of the pattern off. For boots that develop white films (also called blooms), treat with a teaspoon of olive oil.
Scuffs, sags, and cracks are not always inevitable with shoes. Preventive care measures and regular cleaning keep many pairs of footwear looking almost brand-new well past their prime.