Every year, Americans are sending over 300 million pairs of shoes to landfills. Of course, every pair of shoes will run its course eventually.
However, there are things we can do to give them a longer lifespan and create less waste every year. By learning basic shoe care, you can keep your shoes clean and functional for several months longer.
In this guide to shoe care, we’ll cover basic care as well as specific cleaning tactics for different shoe materials.
Read on to learn how you can wear your shoes for longer before they wear out completely!
Ditch Low-Quality Shoes Altogether
First thing’s first: cheap shoes are not designed to last. Not only is this bad for the environment but it’s bad for your wallet! It makes more economic sense to spend a little more for high-quality shoes that will last longer than to keep shelling out small amounts of money for cheap shoes.
Believe it or not, high-quality shoes don’t have to break the bank. Propet shoes for women are a great example of well-designed, attractive shoes that don’t come with designer price tags.
Shoe Care Basics: Care Tips for Every Shoe
If you don’t have the time or energy to keep your shoes squeaky clean all the time, we understand. That’s why we’re going to share some easy, basic shoe care tips that work for almost every shoe.
These care basics include:
- Spraying new shoes with a waterproof protector
- Adding sole reinforcements to worn-down shoes (a cheap service provided by most shoe repairers)
- Cleaning the insides with rubbing alcohol or tea tree oil (both antifungal agents) to eliminate bad shoe odors
- Alternating pairs to give your favorite shoes a rest between wears
- Allowing wet shoes to dry completely before storing them in a closet or bin
- Using shoe trees to help tennis shoes, dress shoes, and even some sandals maintain their shape
As you can see, these basic shoe care steps don’t take tons of effort or time. By following these simple tips, you can avoid letting good shoes go to ruin quickly.
Cleaning Different Shoe Materials
If you want to maintain clean shoes for months or years to come, it’s important to understand the necessary care for different shoe materials. We’re going to take a look at some of the most commonly used shoe materials and what cleaning supplies and methods you’ll want to use to keep them clean. Let’s dive in!
This method will work for real, patent, or faux leather. To begin the cleaning process, use a clean dry cloth to wipe away any caked-on dirt or debris.
Then, mix a solution of equal parts cool water and distilled white vinegar. Use another clean cloth to dab the leather with this solution. Wipe away the solution and any remaining debris and allow the shoes to dry completely before wearing or storing them.
Suede requires regular maintenance if you want it to stay clean. A soft-bristled brush works wonders, and you can gently scrub your suede shoes with the (dry) brush after each wear to remove dirt.
Suede tends to absorb moisture, and any oil-based stains can seem impossible to remove. However, if you sprinkle the oil with cornstarch or baby powder, the substance will begin to soak up the oil. Then, use your soft-bristled brush to remove the substance and repeat this process until the stain is gone.
A lot of casual footwear (e.g. sneakers and strappy sandals) are made from a fabric blend. It can be tempting to throw these shoes in the washer, but doing so can damage the shape of the shoe as well as any other materials used in the sole.
Instead, use your soft-bristled brush to brush away any dry, loose debris. Then, create a mixture of two cups of warm water and one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Grab a toothbrush and use it to work small amounts of the mixture into the stain in circular motions, working on one small section at a time.
Once the stain is lifted, use a clean, damp paper towel to “rinse” away the soapy water. Once again, allow the shoes to dry before wearing or storing them.
Athletic shoes tend to use a combination of fabrics and much of the shoe is designed with a mesh material. This is the one type of shoe that you can throw in the washing machine.
First, remove the laces and removable inner soles, which can be washed using the same method described for fabric blends. Then, pre-treat any tough stains with a stain removing solution. Finally, wash athletic shoes with a heavy-duty detergent and throw in a few dirty towels to keep the shoes from rattling loudly in the washer.
Although athletic shoes can be washed in a washing machine, they should never be dried in the drier. Even on a cooler setting, driers use a high heat that can warp or melt the rubber soles on your athletic shoes. Instead, allow your athletic shoes to air dry after you wash them.
Lower Your Annual Waste By Taking Care of Your Shoes
We could all stand to lower our annual waste (and spending). Practicing regular shoe care is an easy and effective way to get the most out of your shoes before sending them off to the landfill. With our guide to basic care and shoe cleaning tips, you can elongate your shoes’ lifespan by several months.
Taking care of our belongings is a great way to take care of ourselves. If you want to find out more about how you can take care of yourself on a daily basis, take a look at our health section and find ways to improve your health habits.