Caring for your shoes in the correct way is paramount to your shoe looking good, lasting longer and making you feel great, especially when you spent all that time searching for the right shoe. You can begin to realise there is nothing worse than wearing your shoe once and not having them available to wear again when you need them all through lack of care or the lack of knowledge on how to care for your shoe. To maintain your shoe’s durability clean and polish your shoe regularly using a recommended shoe care product and try to remove spills and stains as soon as they appear. Applying shoe protector may protect them from grease, water, mud and snow abuse.
General shoe care
Waterproofing new shoes can help to protect against the weather; castor oil can be used to waterproof the under part of your leather soles. Wearing shoes in wet weather can sometimes cause the shoe to absorb water and permanently damage your shoe, (particularly leather soled footwear).
Wet footwear should be allowed to dry out naturally in a well ventilated area; avoid placing the footwear near heaters or dryers as this may damage the uppers and cause it separate from the bonding.
Ideally shoes need a day off and if possible you should try not to wear your shoe for two consecutive days; allowing them to rest allows them to recover shape and, if wet, to dry out.
Leather inners and in-socks can help to prevent damage to the shoes construction; regularly swapping in-socks might prolong the life of your shoe.
Always try to use a show horn when putting your shoes on your feet.
Shoe heel tips will inevitably wear out and cause damage to the rest of your shoe if not repaired in good time. Always take your shoe to a professionally trained cobbler to mend your shoe heel tips.
Other footwear such as training shoes should be kept out in the open when stored to allow the material to breathe thus avoiding those nasty whiffs that can sometimes build up in heavily used footwear.
Always wear a pair of socks when donning your training shoes as heavy, (any even normal) use can cause feet to sweat and leave behind bacteria that causes your footwear to emit nasty odours. Wearing socks is likely to lessen the chances of your footwear becoming odorous.
Using a little talcum powder or a reputable shoe freshener in your footwear can help to keep any bad odours away from your shoe or feet.
It is always advisable to store your precious shoes in a box as this helps to protect them from any external damage; you should try not to store your shoes one on top the other in a confined space. When travelling with your shoes you should try to pack them in a soft bag.
A good shoe tree can support a longer life for your shoes as during storage it can prevent the leather from wrinkling or cracking and will help to maintain the shape of your shoes.
Adding a protective sole to your shoes is likely to extend the life and durability of your shoe. Protective soles are placed on the outer sole protecting your shoe from wear and tear, and they can also increase water resistance of the shoe. Some protective soles also come with anti skid capabilities.
Cleaning your shoes
Polishing leather shoes
To keep shoes looking brand new and pristine a good polishing always comes out on top. Before polishing your shoe, make sure you remove laces where applicable. Use a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt or use a brush to lightly dust it away. It is always recommended that you use a nourishing cream prior to polishing; using a nourishing cream that is slightly paler in colour to your shoe will help to preserve the shoes colour.
When you finish applying a nourishing cream to your shoe you should then choose a polish to match the colour of your shoe (read labels carefully) and apply the polish using a soft lint free cloth. Apply the polish in small amounts and lightly massage into the leather using a circular motion. Shoe polishes contain dyes, pigments, wax and conditioning agents that help to keep footwear looking in good condition, adding shine and covering scuffs. They are available in liquid, paste and cream forms. The protection and conditioning attained from your polish is likely to vary according to the brand of polish you purchase however test have shown that cream and paste tend to offer more protection and conditioning than the liquid polishes with foam applicators.
Always use separate brushes and shoe cloths when polishing shoes of different colours to avoid discolouring your footwear.
Tip: an old toothbrush can be very useful when polishing footwear because you can use it to reach in between those tiny crags.
When polishing your shoes it is important to remember not to use too much polish as, not only does it create more work for you when trying to get that all important shine on your shoe, but it can also conceal the natural beauty of the leather in your shoe and can cause the appearance of a grainy texture in the creases of your shoe to become visible.
Waxed leather upper shoes require a regular application of dubbin or a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple.
When polished, shoes can be placed on an old newspaper or an old sheet to dry and, (usually after 15 minutes), when they are dry they can be brushed with a natural bristle brush that helps the polish penetrate the leather. When the polish has clearly penetrated the leather use a clean cloth to buff your shoe to the required shine.
Cleaning Suede and Nubuck Shoes
Where the major part or all of a shoe is made up of nap such as suede or nubuck polishing should be avoided as polishing will invariably ruin the shoes appearance. Suede and nubuck should be brushed gently using a suede brush to remove dirt and restore the nap. Any stains appearing on your suede or nubuck uppers should be treated immediately with any specially formulated solvent-based suede cleaner to avoid lasting damage to your footwear.
Purchasing a good suede and leather protector will help to repel water and stains from your suede and nubuck uppers but need to be re-applied regularly to maintain its effectiveness. Also some specially formulated conditioners will help to preserve oiled nubuck shoes but all care should be taken when deciding which product to use and it is always advisable to read the labels carefully before purchase or use.
Caring for Athletic Shoes and Trainers (Sneakers)
Synthetic materials used in the making of footwear tends be less fragile than leather and requires different levels of cleaning and care. Synthetic shoes can be cleaned using a damp cloth or a gentle brush and, as with caring for your leather uppers, when protecting your synthetic shoe you can use a polish and waterproof agent. Athletic shoes made entirely or mostly from fabric or suede uppers should be cleaned using the same methods as those used when cleaning and caring for your Suede and Nubuck shoes. Formulated training shoe shampoos used with a brush applicator offer a good method for removing stains and dirt from leather training shoes.
Athletic training shoes that have accumulated dirt and grime that has now become engrained into the shoe are best cared for by giving them a hand wash using an old toothbrush, mild soap and water. You can, however, opt for placing your trainers in your washing machine and putting them through a cold cycle; a hot cycle might cause your training shoes to shrink). Following either a hand or machine wash you should allow your trainers to dry out naturally, (usually 24 hrs), in a well vented area before, (if required), polishing to remove any scuff marks with a matching coloured polish.