Care for Your Shoes

July 27, 2015

Whether you're a shoe-lover and collect pretty pairs, or think of shoes for their function only, you want the ones you wear to last a long time and look their best. See these tips on how to properly care for your footwear.

Care for Your Shoes

1. Shining shoes

A good shoe shine not only keeps your shoes looking good, but it also protects and helps them last longer. Here's how to do it.

  1. First brush the shoes clean and free of dust and dirt. Do this on newspaper to keep your work surface clean.
  2. If your shoes are badly scuffed, stained by salt or if the leather was recently soaked and is now dry and brittle, rub in a bit of conditioner before polishing.
  3. To apply polish, hold the shoe by its inside, brushing polish gently onto all outside surfaces.
  4. Allow each shoe to absorb the polish, then use a chamois or clean cloth to buff them.
  5. Put shoetrees in newly polished footwear while it dries.
  6. Set shoes on newspaper, away from carpeting or draperies that could be stained by contact with drying polish.

2. Make your own shoeshine kit

Make your own shoeshine kit and keep it handy for cleaning and polishing all of your shoes. Here's what you'll need.

  • Polish and conditioners: Stock your kit with black, brown and neutral polishes (liquid or cream), along with leather conditioners for smooth leather shoes and saddlesoap for heavier shoes and boots. Include a small container of petroleum jelly for patent leather shoes.
  • Brushes: Your kit should contain a brush or sponge to remove stains, a small circular brush or toothbrush to apply polish and a brush to buff the polish. You can store brushes in separate unsealed plastic bags.
  • Cloths and buffers: Every shoeshine kit needs plenty of soft cloths to shine polished shoes and to apply leather conditioner to boots and heavier shoes (recycle flannel shirts, nightgowns or terry cloth towels for these). Also include a chamois cloth to buff shoes to a high shine.

3. Caring for leather shoes

When it comes to leather shoes looking good, it's important to buy the right size, which will prevent stretching.  Make sure you have more than one pair so you can rotate which you wear. This will give them time to air out and regain their shape between wearings. Have shoes resoled or reheeled if the tops of them are still in good shape. Store leather shoes on shoe trees to help them maintain their shape.

4. Laundering non-leather shoes

Wash shoes made from cloth or synthetic materials, such as tennis or running shoes, in the regular cycle of the washer if the manufacturer's label says to do so. Pretreat the shoes before you wash them to remove heavy stains. Put the shoes in with several towels to make the load go more smoothly.

Following these basic steps will help you get the most of your footwear.

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