How to Keep Shoes in Good Condition

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When you invest in a pair of shoes, you want to make sure that they remain wearable for as long as possible. But footwear is subjected to serious wear and tear on a daily basis, so it can seem like a losing battle. The trick is to prevent damage before it occurs. This takes a little more effort, but it can significantly extend the life of your favorite shoes.

Call for Reinforcements

The soles of your shoes are usually the first place to show signs of wear and tear, so they require special care. Have a shoe-repair store attach sole protectors, which are thin rubber layers that prevent water from soaking through your shoes -- the protectors also provide additional traction. Heels also wear down easily. Usually, pumps, stilettos and other heels come with a plastic cap on the heel, which break easily. Have a cobbler replace the plastic lifts with hard rubber ones. They’re much more durable than plastic, though you’ll eventually need to have them replaced as well.

Ward Off Moisture Damage

While some shoe materials are more prone to water damage than others, treat all of your shoes with a water-protector spray as soon as you purchase them. That way, you don’t have to worry about rain and other moisture penetrating your shoes. Reapply the spray once a season for a total of four times a year. When shoes get wet, particularly leather styles, allow them to dry at room temperature -- blow dryers or other heat sources sometimes shrink the material.

Clean Quickly

At some point, you may wind up with a stain on your shoes. To prevent it from sticking around, treat it immediately. In particular, clean leather shoes of salt stains right away in winter since they can do permanent damage to the shoes. Use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe away the spots. Use extreme care with suede shoes, and immediately buff out water stains with a suede brush or rubber stone. Canvas shoes are usually the easiest to clean since you can throw most styles in the washing machine on a gentle cycle to remove stains. If your canvas shoes feature any leather or suede sections, though, skip the washer and use a brush to remove stains.

Add a Little Polish

As shoes age, their color starts to fade and becomes dull. To rejuvenate their appearance, condition and polish them whenever they start to look a little lackluster. When leather shoes age, they actually begin to dry out. Use a conditioning product to restore the oils in the leather and to keep the leather soft and supple. When it comes to polishing, opt for a cream formula -- those with wax can actually remove moisture from the leather. If your shoes are marred by scratches, choose a polish that’s a shade lighter than the leather to help conceal it.

Store Smartly

Even in a closet, dirt and dust can wind up on your shoes. Opt for covered storage to keep shoes in tip-top shape. Cotton and felt shoe bags are the best options because plastic can actually cause them to dry out. If you use a shoe rack to store your shoes, leave space between the pairs because they can bleed into one another if the materials touch. Your closet should be at room temperature; if the space is too hot, it can shrink leather styles. If you store your shoes in boxes, do not put them away damp or they may develop mold, mildew and odors.