We all love a shoe that fits well and makes us feel amazing. And because such perfect-fitting, gorgeous shoes aren’t easy to find, we probably want them to last as long as possible. But how to extend the lifespan of our shoes? Here are some helpful tips.
First, Choose Quality
Preferring quality over quantity is the mantra of every slow fashionista. High-quality products have per se a longer lifespan. And this, of course, also applies to shoes. So, if we want our shoes to last longer, we should choose the best quality we can get and afford.
Nowadays, though, buying a good pair of quality shoes is like finding a needle in a haystack. Despite paying attention to style and fit, we have to check carefully if the shoe is well-constructed in every detail. Here’s what to look for exactly:
Once you’ve purchased a high-quality, perfect-fitting shoe, the most important work is done. Next, you only need to brush up your shoe care know-how, and your precious new wardrobe addition will serve you for many years to come.
Look After Your Shoes
Proper shoe care involves more than regular cleaning and starts even before the first wear. When it comes to shoes, prevention is better than cure.
Before Wearing New Shoes for the First Time
- Extend your shoes’ lifespan by adding taps and half-soles of rubber to the bottoms, especially to leather soles.
- Spray new shoes with a waterproof protector before wearing them to prevent stains.
Tip: To check if your shoes need a new layer protection spray, splash a little bit of water on the upper part. If small water drops form, the shoe is still protected. But if the water runs down the shoe and forms little pools, the surface is no longer water repellent.
Clean and Maintain Your Shoes
- Wipe off or brush your shoes after each wear to prevent dirt particles from accruing and scratching the surface.
- Thoroughly clean and protect your shoes every two or three weeks – or earlier when they got wet or stained.
- If you plan an extended break from wear, apply a thin layer of shoe care (cream or other suitable products) and store them in a cloth bag.
Tip: Leather is a natural material that needs nourishment, just like your skin. Being continually exposed to the elements depletes the leather of oil and fat. Shoes lose not only their shine but also their flexibility. The leather stiffens, and dirt accumulates in open pores. Without proper care, leather becomes brittle, and your shoes won’t last very long.
What Your Shoe Care Set Should Include
- A stiff brush and a sponge to remove dirt
- Cleansing foam for the inside of your shoe (choose one you can also use to clean sneakers, etc.)
- Shoe cream either colorless or in the color of your shoe
- A separate applicator brush or cloth for every shade of shoe cream
- Polishing brushes or soft cotton cloths (have one for light- and one for dark-colored shoes)
- A colorless waterproofing spray (check if it’s suitable for all sorts of leather as well as natural fabrics and man-made materials)
When Perspiration and Odor Is a Problem
- Clean your shoes also from the inside with a suitable cleansing foam. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the foam, which is a natural anti-fungal agent.
- Wear hose or sock liners to protect your insoles.
Use Shoe Shapers
To extend the lifespan of your shoes, use shoe shapers (shoe trees). They allow shoes to breathe and prevent them from losing their shape and sturdiness. If possible, get them for all your shoes. I prefer cedar wood shoe trees over plastic ones as they absorb moisture and odor. If you can’t afford wooden shoe shapers, use newspaper instead. Filling shoes temporarily with paper is also a good idea when they got wet. Paper quickly absorbs moisture and helps to reduce any unpleasant smell.
I bet we all have a pair of shoes we never want to take off. Those are the shoes that go with everything, are easy to style, and comfortable to wear all day long. Unfortunately, if we wear the same shoes day after day, they won’t last very long. They need time to dry and breathe and a bit of support to retain their shape. Regular breaks from wear are an easy but efficient way to extend the lifespan of your shoes.
Store Shoes Properly
When you buy quality shoes, chances are they come with a cloth bag. Use it when packing your shoes for traveling, so they don’t get any scratches or scuff marks. Shoe bags also come in handy if you have a walk-in closet. They protect your shoes from dust and sunlight (dyed shoes can fade!). If you don’t have a shoe bag at hand, use an old pillowcase or a worn-out T instead.
Get Shoes Repaired in Good Time
Protecting your shoe and extending its lifespan also means getting the sole repaired or replaced regularly. Keep an eye on the soles’ condition and visit the shoe service before it’s too late.
The key to maintaining your shoes in good shape and extending their lifespan is care. Moreover, to prevent your shoes from accruing damage and to increase their longevity, be gentle when putting them on and taking them off. Use a shoehorn and/or your hands. Never use force (or the other foot).
Give Shoes a Second Life
There may be shoes in your closet that no longer correspond to your life and style. Rather than throwing them away, consider donating or reselling them. If you follow the previous rules, your shoes are likely to be in tip-top condition. Allow them to serve someone else. Check out my posts on wardrobe planning to decide which pair (not) to keep in your closet:
- All about Wardrobe Planning
Make the Most of Your Wardrobe
Taking good care of your clothes and shoes ensures they remain in tip-top shape and are available whenever you want to wear them. This is essential, but there are more ways to optimize your wardrobe:
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How do you take care of your most-loved shoes? Are there any tips you’d like to share with us?