Shoe Maintenance – How To Make Your Shoes Last Longer

The footwear industry has experienced significant advancements over the last 100 years. And despite all these advancements, one thing has remained constant – shoes require proper care and maintenance if you want to keep them in great shape and condition. Apart from that, proper cleaning and maintenance of shoes improves their shelf life, saves money, completes your dressing, and protects your feet against infections. However, there are different types of footwear – from canvas, leather, synthetic, and anything in between. Therefore, every type or model of shoe requires a different cleaning approach. Here is how to clean different types of shoes.

Running Shoes

As much as running shoes don’t require high levels of maintenance, it’s advisable to keep them minty fresh with a little cleaning and care. Most of them are made of mesh uppers, foam midsoles, and rubber outsoles. You need to clean each of these components to ensure your running shoes are in great condition. Also, the amount of time you will spend cleaning them depends on the extent of the dirt. Before cleaning them, you should first remove the laces and the insoles. When cleaning the uppers, you should first use a gentle brush to remove dirt and dust. You should then scrub them with a mixture of soap and water or any GTX-friendly solution. Never toss your running shoes in the washing machine, since it might damage them.

Once you have finished cleaning the uppers, you should then proceed to the insoles and the outsoles. The insoles accumulate a great amount of sweat and dirt. If you fail to clean them properly, they might provide a good environment for bacteria to thrive, leading to unpleasant odors and foot infections. Clean the insoles either using water and vinegar or a mixture of water and baking soda, depending on your preferences. As for the outsoles, you should first remove the dirt lodged in the treads and the clean them with a stiff brush and soap. Once you have cleaned all the parts, you should leave them outside in an airy place, away from direct sunlight.

Chuck Taylors

Chuck Taylors are a versatile pair of casual shoes, which you can combine with almost anything in your wardrobe. They are also available in different colors, styles, designs, and patterns. However, just like any other type of shoes, they can experience wear and tear, without proper care and maintenance. The good news is that cleaning your pair of Chuck Taylors is not a complicated process. You just need soap and water. Before cleaning them for the first time, it’s advisable to test the cleaning solution on a small part of the shoe like the tongue or the insole. Testing the cleaning solution helps you to determine whether the cleaner will stain or damage the shoes. If the cleaning solution doesn’t react with the shoes, then you are good to go.

Just toss them inside a solution of soap and water, and then clean them with a used toothbrush. Wipe off the surface using a clean piece of microfiber cloth and then leave them outside in an airy place to dry. You might be tempted to use the dryer to speed up the drying process. However, you shouldn’t do that, since the dryer might damage both the canvas material used on the upper as well as the rubber sole. It’s advisable to stuff them with a folded newspaper so that they can maintain their shape as they dry.

UGG Boots

UGG shoes are usually made of sheepskin and wool, which means they are not as sturdy as shoes made of cowhide or other forms of leather. Therefore, you should protect them immediately after buying with a sealing spray. These sprays are available at your local shoe repair shop. When it comes to cleaning, you should treat them as other types of leather shoes. Don’t allow too much dirt to accumulate, since you might be forced to scrub them too hard during the cleaning process, thus damaging their texture. When cleaning them, you should use a suede brush to remove the dirt on the surface. This brush removes any form of dirt stuck on the surface while softening the upper material for the main cleaning procedure.

When cleaning them, don’t immerse them in water. You just want the surface to be wet. Ensure you use a soft piece of cloth such as a face towel, and then wring out excess water while wiping the surface. Gently scrub the surface with the towel, using a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water. Once they are clean, wipe off the excess water on the surface, using a second piece of a face towel. If they have greasy stains, pat them with baby powder and then leave them for an hour or so. Brush off the powder using a suede brush, wipe the surface and then stuff them with a newspaper, since they might lose their shape as they dry. Give them at least 24 to 48 hours to dry completely.

Hiking Boots, Work Boots, and Blundstones

Leather shoes are rugged and designed to last. However, if you want to prolong their life, then it’s important to take care of them. Work boots and hiking boots are made of different leather finishes, including full-grain leather, suede, nubuck and vegan leather. Therefore, the level of cleaning and maintenance to be carried out will depend on the finish. When it comes to full grain leather, moisture and dirt will have minimal impact on them if you adhere to proper maintenance practices. Insoles of full-grain leather boots absorb plenty of moisture. Therefore, you should remove them especially after a prolonged day on your feet. Insoles will dry faster once they are outside the shoes.

Never toss dirty leather boots in the wardrobe. When cleaning them, ensure you first remove the laces and then remove any dirt stuck on the surface using a damp piece of cloth or a soft-bristled brush. If you are dealing with average dirt levels, then you just need to brush them with a mixture of dish soap and lukewarm water. However, if you encounter stubborn stains, then you should remove them with custom products for the specific pair of shoes. Once you have removed the dirt, wipe the surface using a damp piece of cloth and then leave them outside to dry. Don’t leave the shoes in direct sunlight, since it might dry out the leather used. You should allow your boots enough time to dry – at least 24 hours. It’s also advisable to wax or polish your boots for at least once per month to maintain their structure. If you are applying cream, polish or wax for the first time, then you should first test it on a hidden area to see how it reacts with the leather. You should also note that when you clean full grain leather boots, the pores become open, which means the leather can absorb water easily. It’s therefore advisable to impregnate them to close those pores. If the boots come with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, then you should use a specific product for that material.

Suede and nubuck leather shoes are among the easiest to maintain. They are not as demanding as full-grain leather shoes. And with proper care and maintenance, you can wear your pair of suede shoes for many years. You just need a suede or nubuck brush, water, and talcum powder. After heavy use, perform light and quick strokes using any of the brushes, depending on the material. Ensure the brush gets deep into the fibers to remove dust and dirt. Always brush the surface in one direction, as it helps to keep the shoes tidy and clean. If you are dealing with suede that has a longer nap, then you should use a crepe brush or a multi-headed brush to remove the dirt completely. Alternatively, if the shoes have scuff marks, then you can simply remove them with a rubber eraser. Apart from removing the stains, the rubber or gum eraser will also soften the leather. If the nap on your boots looks flattened all over or tired, you can hold it above a steam cleaner for approximately 5 seconds and then brush them. Ensure you follow the cleaning instructions that came with your product, to ensure longevity.

You should avoid wearing suede or nubuck leather shoes outside, without sealing the leather first. Nubuck and suede shoes are vulnerable to various elements such as salt, rain, snow and other substances. Therefore, you need to protect them against those elements before you wear them outdoors. Luckily, protecting your shoes is not a complicated process. You just need to purchase a suede protector spray, which is readily available in drug stores or shoe repair stores near you. Suede protector spray is dirt repellant and water repellant. Once you have purchased this protector, ensure your shoes are clean and dry before applying it. You should first test the spray in a small hidden area of your shoes to see the reaction. If there is no reaction, then you can proceed – spraying the covered areas and then proceeding to the surface. Avoid applying too much spray protector. Allow your shoes to dry for at least 24 hours, resting on a piece of towel in a properly ventilated area. Ensure you spray the shoes at least once per week. Never use shoe polish, creams or waxes on suede and nubuck, since they might lead to irreparable damage. Also, remember that you should waterproof your suede and nubuck boots regularly to protect them against various stains.

Sandals and Slippers

Sandals are easy to wear, allow your feet to breathe and you can combine them with different outfits. They are also highly versatile. You can wear them after work, wear them to the beach or even wear them while fetching groceries from the city. However, just like any form of footwear, sandals require proper care and maintenance to keep them fresh and durable. Unlike shoes, cleaning sandals will only take a few minutes. For sports sandals, rubbery flip-flops, as well as those made of synthetic materials, you just need to clean with them with soapy water. You can either use shampoo, dish soap or whatever is readily available. Scrub them thoroughly using a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and dust. If they are made of EVA, then you can clean them using the washing machine. Allow them to dry in the sun. Once they are completely dry, put them in a zipper bag, seal it and then leave them inside the fridge overnight, to kill all the bacteria present.

For finished leather slippers, you should clean and condition them regularly, using a leather cleaner. If you use the appropriate product for the leather, it will restore the leather’s natural oils while enhancing their appeal. On the other hand, if your sandals are made of unfinished leather, then you should clean them using saddle soap. Use matching polish to treat scruff marks. If they are made of softer materials such as nubuck or suede, then you should use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt while keeping them supple. And since bacteria thrive under warm, sweaty feet, ensure you treat your sandals with a household disinfectant before you head out with them during summer. If your sandals are made of EVA, storing them in hot areas such as close to radiators, campfires or outside in the sun will extend their lifespan.

Enhancing the Durability of Your Shoes

Finding a pair of shoes that fit properly and offers sufficient amounts of comfort and support is not always easy. Therefore, when you finally find a winning combination, you should do whatever it takes to prolong their life for as long as possible. If they are leather shoes, ensure you polish and condition them as appropriate. It’s also advisable to rotate your shoes since it prevents accumulation of bacteria while minimizing premature wear and tear. Also, use shoes for the intended purpose. For instance, it’s not advisable to wear running sneakers in construction sites or other industrial environments. Also, ensure you take them on and off properly. And if your shoes become wet, air dry them outside and avoid direct heat. And most importantly, store your shoes in a cool and dry place. When you follow the above tips, your pair of shoes will serve you for many years, thus making sure that you get value for your money.