Shoe care can be a mysterious process that is daunting to even the most informed individual. With all of the varied materials that shoes are made of, the number of ways to care for them is equally varied – often to the point of confusion. The route that many people take in dealing with the confusion is, unfortunately, to do nothing at all. While it may be easier at first, this mode of dealing with shoe cleaning ultimately leads to them wearing out earlier than necessary. The following tips and techniques will help get you started with the basic cleaning and care of several of the most common shoe types
Consistent care of leather shoes is very important, as leather that is not properly looked after can dry out – in the worst scenarios, the leather can even crack, which will ruin even the best-made shoes. Even though shoe polish can go a long way in helping leather shoes look shiny and new, it is important to follow a care regimen that is a bit more involved than applying the occasional coat of polish. Leather cleaner is available at most department and shoe stores – this should be used on a regular basis to help protect your shoes from the elements. Weatherproofing sprays and rubs are also a good idea, especially if you live in an area where moisture is common. If you live in a hot, dry area, a leather conditioner would help keep the leather soft and supple and would help prevent the material from drying out unnecessarily.
This material – common especially in designer boots and shoes such as Uggs and Acorns – merits special care, as its appearance and softness is especially susceptible to wear and tear. This is exacerbated by moisture and dirt, which can stain the suede (and similar materials) if not dealt with appropriately. Generally speaking, you should never use polishes or conditioners on suede, as it will ruin the material. There are specialty sprays that you can buy that will help protect shoes form moderate weather and dirt, however it is never a good idea to subject shoes made with suede to excessive moisture or mud. To remove dirt, a small, soft-bristled brush is the best option.
A staple shoe in most closets, the tennis shoe is as versatile in its cleaning and care processes as it is in its function. When taking care of a pair of sneakers, it is important to consider the materials before deciding on a cleaning plan. Many tennis shoes now have specialty designs and decals that can be made of anything from plastic to velvet. For basic tennis shoe materials, a damp cloth or even a toothbrush and Windex can work wonders in removing dirt or smudges. If the shoe is more of a leathery material, a conditioner or rub-on cleaner can be safely used. Spray-on cleaners or weatherproofing mists can also help preserve the look and integrity of most tennis shoes; depending on the material, some can even safely go through a gentle wash cycle.
General Care Tips
There are many things that you can do to take care of your shoes – preventative care is a great way to ensure that they last as long as possible in great condition. First, keep shoes out of direct sunlight whenever possible, as prolonged exposure will expedite their wear and tear and can cause some materials to fade. Storage in a closet or under a window bench for easy access can be a great solution. For boots or shoes that tend to get wet or dirty often, a space where they can dry easily is a great choice. For tall boots, consider keeping the paper inserts that they often come with to help maintain their shape. If they did not come with inserts or if the inserts have long since been tossed, rolled up newspapers or balled up socks can be a great alternative.
Likewise, fancy high-heeled shoes should be stored in a way that does not place added strain on the heel. Over-the-door hanging shoe organizers are the perfect solution; they also offer the added benefit of maximizing storage space for your closet. Many people choose to store shoes that are not used on a daily basis in the boxes they were sold in, as the stack nicely and usually have a picture of the shoe on the side of the box which makes it easy to identify which box contains which pair of shoes at a glance. Another good option for people who have ample space is to convert a tall bookcase into shoe storage central. This allows shoes to be stored and organized in one easy to peruse place, while keeping them out of direct sunlight and protected from being crushed by other items in the closet.