How to Properly Maintain Dress Shoes?

For accessories that we use regularly and expose to different outdoor terrains, shoes are sometimes underappreciated by most people. An excellent pair of dress shoes can make a massive impact on your social peers, and it might even help you to land that dream job. That said, even the classiest shoes in the world won’t do anything if you fail to take good care of them in the long run.

The best part about owning dress shoes, is that they need only a few minutes of care for each time you wear them. As dress shoe owners, we have all been there. The first time you put on the shoes, you are excited and are ready to do anything to prevent that smudge from getting on your dress shoes. However, as time passes and the novelty of the shoes fades away, you become less interested in the shoes, and so do your shoe care efforts. It’s a vicious cycle. But you’d better take good care of your dress shoes for longevity, even when you don’t feel like it.

We have identified some useful tips and information to consider for your dress shoes. These are simple DIY techniques, which you will use and notice excellent results in the long run. Lets get started.

Some Footwear Rules

Before you can start cleaning your dress shoes, it’s vital for you to understand the fundamental techniques for getting the best value for your money with such shoes. Prevention and good shoe care practices will ensure that your loafers and leather boots are durable for several years. Some key tips to consider include:

  • Put on the correct shoes for the occasion. Boots, running shoes, and loafers are not similar shoes – and you should wear them correctly. Furthermore, materials such as suede, canvas, and leather are not all suitable for when the weather is flux. Choose the correct shoes for all situations to ensure you are comfortable dressed for the occasion.
  • Invest in high quality shoes. Even if the initial costs of dress shoes tend to be high, you can get the best value for your money by taking good care of the shoes. Just as one would expect, cheap shoes are most likely made using frail materials, and you may end up at the dress shoe store soon.
  • Remember that taking good care of dress shoes is a multifaced process. You have to ensure you prepare the shoes correctly for use before you wear them each time. Some procedures involved in the preparation process include polishing and, waterproofing.
  • Avoid putting on the same pair of dress shoes every day. Giving the shoes adequate rotation ensures they get enough time to aerate and for the shoe material to recover. If the shoes get damaged, consider repairing them instead of replacing them.

Caring for Dress Shoes

There are various useful techniques you can use for dress shoes. The common ones include:

Waterproofing

As useful as water tends to be, it can damage your shoes if you fail to apply the correct shoe care precautions. Whenever it rains, salt can get through the leather, and any accompanying stains might not be easy to remove. More so, leather is also prone to drying out and cracking when left in excessive water. Ensure that you waterproof your leather shoes to protect them regardless of the climate conditions.

Once a month can be sufficient, especially if you don’t use the shoes daily. However, if it rains regularly, then consider waterproofing several times a week. The common waterproofing compounds are wax-based compounds, spray-on products, and specialty water products. because they are easy, effective, and simple to use.

Shoe Polish

Using regular shoe polish should help improve the longevity of your dress shoes. However, ensure that you pick the correct shoe polish for your shoe type. More so, using the correct brush is as important as the shoe polish you choose. Only leather shoes require regular polishing, and you might have to apply it every time you wear them to ensure the best results.

Horsehair Brush

Various options are available on the consumer market when it comes to dress shoe brushes. The best shoe brush type for dress shoes would be the horsehair brushes. While these types tend to lighter than most brushes, they are perfect for working on the delicate materials of most shoes.

Shoe Horn

Broadly speaking, new shoes and dress shoes are exceptional. They tend to be stiff, which is where such shoes become useful. A shoehorn ensures that you never have to wiggle and struggle with each type you need to put on dress shoes. Furthermore, it’s a component that protects the heels of your shoe while also making them simple to put on. This way, you prevent any long-term issues associated with such struggling such as damage and breaking of the shoe material.

Shoe Trees

These are also excellent shoe accessories that you place in the central section to help preserve the shape of the shoe. It also helps to improve the lifespan of the shoes while also providing additional shoe comfort. It’s a huge advantage over using plastic because it will make it easy to dry out the shoe lining.

Damp Cloth

Using a wet cloth is a reliable technique for taking care of your leather shoes. Since dress shoes made of leather tend to be very durable, wiping it down occasionally to remove dust and dirt can be beneficial. Dirt and dust are perhaps the most notable causes of wear and tear.

Conditioner/cream

Using leather conditioner or cream moisturizes the material such that it won’t dry out or crack due to excessive use. While this won’t make the shoes shine, it goes a long way in improving the longevity of the shoes. More so, conditioners won’t waterproof your leather shoes. Conditioners used on leather shoes have a lotion-like consistency and require a gentle application. The dress shoe material will absorb the conditioner, just as in the same way as a moisturizer.

How often you use conditioner, as with the other treatments, really depends on what you want. Dave Munson mentioned above, conditions every 6-12 months, preferring to let his bags completely dry out before re-applying. That keeps the leather looking rugged and sturdy, and allows it to accrue some scuffs, scratches, etc.

How to Clean Different Dress Shoe Materials

Leather

Leather shoes can last for a long time with the appropriate wear and care regimen. Since you are bound to wear your leather shoes regularly, it’s necessary that you use a proper cleaning regimen. For leather shoes, this might include using a hairbrush and wet cloth to remove dirt. Then, it would help if you also used waterproofing occasionally, to ensure the shoes never crack due to drying. You can also consider applying shoe polish gently until the shoes shine to your liking.

Suede Shoes

Suede shoes can be highly professional, but taking care of them also requires skill, especially if you wear them regularly. The best product suede shoes would be silicone-based suede protectors, which you can apply to your shoes. Apply the spray on the upper sections of the shoes, and remember to leave it to air dry. Thus, you have shoes with weatherproof material that you can wear in wet conditions.

Keeping the Shoes in Shape

Like it or not, the shape of your shoes will likely change over time, especially if you put them on regularly. You have also to use the proper techniques to keep the shoes in shape. However, getting reliable cedar shoe trees that have a split toe and heel to put in your dress shoes can be beneficial.

Within the first few hours of removing your shoes, put shoe trees inside the shoes to help maintain their original shape. It’s also a proper aeration technique for shoes, especially if you tend to sweat heavily. You can even use a newspaper or pieces of tissue if you don’t have access to shoe trees.

Air Dry

The weather can unpredictable at times, which means that your leather shoes can soak up water when exposed to the rain. If this ever occurs, ensure you place your shoes close to a heated area as soon as possible. Leaving the shoes in water or wet can easily degrade the structure of the leather material.

Furthermore, you can also use scrunched up newspaper in the interior section of the shoes, to help improve the evaporation of water.

Finally

Taking good care of your dress shoes is an important venture, and it can save you from the hassle of having to buy new shoes or expensive shoe care products. Keeping dress shoes in shape might involve several techniques, especially if they are made of leather or suede materials. Fortunately, taking good care is a simple DIY process, which you can perform when you have the correct information.

Using resources such as shoe horns, creams, shoe polish, hair shoe brushes, and more among some of the critical factors for you to consider. With the correct shoe care techniques, you can increase the longevity of your shoes significantly.

Sarah Shawman

is the webmistress of Footwear 4 Workers.

She started this website out of displeasure with the fact that there are so few good online resources especially dedicated to the 99%: working people. Having suffered from work related plantar fasciitis herself, she set out on a mission to help others.

She updated this page on and will continue to update it as time goes on.

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