They are one of the most useful parts of your daily wardrobe, but they often get the most punishment as well.
We wear shoes every day, but generally they are kicked off at the end of the day and tossed without a care into the bottom of your wardrobe.
Can we do better? My father said, “Always look after your teeth, your tyres and your roof.” But can we add shoes to that list? With a few simple tips and tricks, they can last years longer than expected.
Here’s a guide to taking care of your shoes.
Before you have even worn your shoes, consider if it’s worth putting on a protective sole. Don’t spend money putting soles on a cheap pair, but you will add years to a good pair by adding a sole with the added bonus of helping each shoe to keep its shape. All shoe shop repairers will be able to advise on the best kind.
Next up, apply a waterproofing spray, especially for natural materials. Follow the instructions, but most shoes can do with at least three coats, more if they are suede. Dry completely between coats and repeat every six months.
And for shoes you already own, firstly, pull everything out of its storage and sort out if you even need each and every pair.
I get it, people get attached to their shoes, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a few pairs that serve no practical purpose and I can’t seem to part with them, but if you haven’t worn them for years or they are a tad on the icky side, consider giving them away or throw them out.
Storing your shoes will become easier if you have more space.
Clean out the storage area. Shoes track a lot of dirt no matter how fussy you are. Vacuum and wipe down every surface in the storage area.
Clean the grubby ones. Most shoes can be easily given a decent wipe over or quick scrub, but good leather deserves a bit more attention.
Invest in a shoe cleaning kit, and polish in every colour needed. It is possible to buy a generic clear colour polish but it’s no replacement for a good colour match.
Leather loves polish. It’s one of the few very satisfying home chores to see the way a neglected pair of shoes comes back to life with even the briefest polish.
My father polished his shoes every day, and his method was to apply the polish with a soft cloth and then buff it off with a soft brush. Experts recommend waiting 10-15 minutes between cloth and brush, but if that all seems a bit too hard there are still excellent results to be had by doing it immediately
For leather sneakers, always clean them as soon as possible after they are stained. If they require a proper clean, give them a gentle scrub using mild, diluted soapy water and dry them by removing the laces and insoles and leave them outside in the sun. Do not put leather shoes in the dryer.
Every other person seems to have a pair of white leather sneakers at the moment, and they may require a bit more work.
Use a magic eraser – available in all supermarkets – to rub away any visible dirt. I can’t praise magic erasers enough, they clean walls, ovens, jewellery, mug stains and now shoes. Buy some now.
If there are still stains, once again, use diluted mild soapy water to give them a gentle scrub. You will also need to separately clean the laces. Give them a good soak in detergent and then put them through a normal wash. However, a new pair of laces will instantly restore the look of your shoes without all the hassle.
By their very nature, shoes absorb a lot of moisture. An easy way to combat this is to toss those silica packs you find in packaging into the storage area, or even directly into the shoes.
Once you have all your shoes looking swish, it’s time to store them properly. Ideally, they should be stored on a shoe tree to keep their shape and, ideally, I’d have a butler to do that but in the real world that’s probably not possible.
Make sure they are not piled on top of each other and resist the temptation to store them in stacks of plastic boxes you can buy for exorbitant prices at storage shops. They may look neat and tidy but the shoes’ natural moisture level will get trapped and they may become mouldy and smelly. If you feel the need to store them in boxes, make sure they are cardboard.
When travelling, try to pack your shoes in shoe bags to protect them, other clothing and your luggage.
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