12 Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Shoes

A selection of women's shoes.

Proper shoe care extends the lifespan of your shoes. (Image: Jaclyn Moy via Unsplash)

Your shoes go through a lot and what thanks do you give them? Rainy days, dusty sidewalks, and grassy fields are just a few of the obstacles they are up against in an average year. Whether you’re wearing women’s supportive sneakers or tall leather combat boots, there’s a lot that can compromise the beauty of your new shoes. Luckily, if you take the following steps below, you can protect them from the moment you put them on. With the right care, you should be able to wear a great pair of shoes for years!

12 tips for extending shoe life

1. Start with a strong foundation

Don’t underestimate the power of high-quality materials when it comes to shoes. Cheap ones made of synthetic materials are more likely to fall apart after only a few wears, so don’t take shortcuts when it comes to selecting footwear. Look for quality brands, great reviews, and materials like natural leather, suede, and cotton. These will not only last longer, but they will be better for the environment, as they take less time to decompose.

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A lady spraying her shoes .
Use a spray protector. (Image: Piyapong Thongcharoen via Dreamstime)

2. Use a spray protector

The moment you take your shoes out of their protective box, spritz them with the appropriate protector spray for their material. In particular, make sure to spray suede, which can easily be ruined by water and salt damage.

3. Add stick-on rubber soles

While shoes made entirely of leather are more comfortable and of higher quality, leather soles show wear very easily. After only a few wears, they can look beaten up and blackened, which is not ideal when you paid a lot of money for them. The best way to protect them is to apply stick-on sole protectors made of thin rubber that can walk on any surface without showing wear and tear.

4. Clean them after wearing

After you wear your shoes, give them a quick clean, either with a shoe wipe, suede brush, or wet cloth depending on the shoe material. Make sure to get rid of any spots of dirt or stains before they set in.

Shoes splashing in muddy water.
Let your shoes dry out completely. (Image: Josh Calabrese via Unsplash)

5. Let your shoes dry out completely

Whether you realize it or not, your shoes trap some level of sweat when you wear them. To keep them in tip-top condition, leave them out to dry for at least a day after wearing them. Rotating them often helps all of them last longer.

6. Spray the insoles with a deodorizer

If after your shoes have fully dried out, they still smell, then it’s time to use a deodorizing spray. Odor-causing bacteria are not only unpleasant, but they can also slowly degrade the interior of your shoes, so this step is super important. There are sprays, powders, and pouches on the market that make getting rid of bacteria a breeze.

7. Stuff your shoes

When you’re not wearing your shoes, fill them with either a shoe tree or newspaper to keep their shape. This is particularly important with boots, which tend to fall over and lose their shape quickly.

8. Store your shoes properly

Keep your dust bags and shoe boxes and use them to store your nice shoes. Once they have dried out for a day, slip them back into their dust bags or boxes. This not only protects them, but also makes organization in your closet easier.

Shoe brushes and shoe polish .
Give leather shoes a polish when they start to look dull. (Image: via Pixabay)

9. Use shoe polish

Give leather shoes a polish whenever they start to look dull. For most people, this will be every few months, but for some, it may only be once or twice a year.

10. Throw canvas sneakers in the washing machine

Canvas sneakers with rubber soles can be cleaned in the washing machine anytime they get dirty. Just make sure to put them out to dry in the sun, not the dryer.

11. Replace the laces

If you want a quick upgrade for your women’s or men’s comfortable sneakers, just switch out the old, dirty laces for brand new ones. Sometimes, it’s the smallest details that really make all the difference.

12. Take your shoes to a cobbler

There are some things you won’t be able to do on your own, like replace the broken heels and worn-out soles of your shoes. Take them to a local cobbler and you’ll be amazed how they transform your old shoes to look brand new. They can even adjust the fit by stretching them out, shortening the shaft of boots, or adjusting the length of the straps.

About the author: Rae Steinbach 

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Mandarin Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and follow her passion for curating quality content at Taktical. Rae is passionate about travel, food, pugs, and writing (of course).

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