Getting the most out of your footwear!
When purchasing a pair of shoes today, you are making an investment. If you want to get the most out of your footwear it is important to take proper care of the shoes. The following are suggestions to extending the life of your shoes.
- Use Cedar Shoes Trees – During the course of a day your feet perspire up to a half pint of moisture. This moisture soaks into the linings and leather uppers of the shoes which will cause the shoes to begin to harden and crack. To preserve the uppers it is important to put cedar shoe trees in your shoes at night when taking them off. This will wick away the moisture into the cedar trees and give off an aroma that deodorizes the shoes naturally.
- Rotate your shoes daily – To maximize the life of your shoes it is recommended to rotate their wear with another pair of shoes. Letting each pair dry thoroughly every other day by putting a cedar shoe tree in the shoes will extend their life. When wearing the same shoes every day, the shoes will not be given adequate time to dry, damaging the shoes, and causing bacteria from your perspiration to irritate the skin.
- Keep away from Heat – Shoes should always dry naturally. Never place them near direct heat, this will cause the leather to become stiff and brittle. Always put cedar shoe trees in the shoes while they are drying. This will allow the shoes to maintain their shape.
- Use a shoe horn - Most shoes have a reinforced heel counter and as you put your feet into the shoes, you will have a tendency to break it down. You should always use a shoe horn to prevent this wear and extend its life.
- Weather proof your shoes – If wearing shoes in an environment that causes them to get wet regularly, you should weather proof them. This should be done soon after purchasing the shoes or boots and before wearing them. If these are work boots and you are not worried about the looks the best would be a silicon product. Mink oil or snow seal. If the shoes are dress to casuals, best to use a non-silicon based spray. In all cases as the shoes appear to have little water spots you should let the shoe dry and then come back with another application.
- Salt stains on the shoes – White salt stains on shoes should be cleaned off immediately so as to prevent permanent damage to the leather. Salt stain should be rinsed off with a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water on a soft rag. Wipe off the solution with a dry rag and leave shoes to dry away from heat. Using a cedar shoe tree will allow the shoe to dry without losing the shoes shape. Once dry come back and give the shoe another treatment with the proper weather proof.
Cleaning and Polishing your Shoes
Smooth Leather Shoes – You should clean your shoes on a regular basis to get the dirt off the leather and then come back with a good cream to restore the color and finish. There are a lot of cleaners on the market or you can use a mild application of mild dish soap on a damp cloth. Never use any type of cleaner or polish that has acid, alcohol, or detergent. All are damaging to fine leather, and will age the shoe. After cleaning, let the shoes air dry, never put near a heat source for it will dry out the leather. While letting the leather dry, it is recommended that you put your cedar shoe trees back into the shoes, so to prevent any shrinkage of the leather. Creams are the best for polishing the shoes because they have a moisturizer to keep the leather soft and supple. Always remember not to polish before cleaning off the dirt on the shoes. This will only imbed the dirt into the pores of the leather and ruin the leather. Never use easy-shine products, they to will dry out the leather. After applying the cream to the upper, let dry for about five minutes and then buff with a soft cloth or a horsehair brush. Final step is to put a coat of water repellant on the shoes to protect from any external moisture. This process should be repeated periodically to maintain the health of the shoe.
Suede Shoes – Suede is different in that you cannot put a polish on the suede leather to restore the color or finish. Therefore, different steps have to be taken to care for suede. If a brand new shoe, one should spray before wearing with a water repellant spray on the shoe, to protect from water and stains. When water begins to soak in and not bead on the surface you should clean the shoes first and then Re-spray the water repellant. After wearing for some time and the shoe is dirty, first wipe off any excess dirt with a clean damp rag using clean water. Using a nylon brush, brush the entire shoe, to remove any dirt embedded in the fibers of the suede. This will also bring the suede nap back up. For major stains, use a suede bar (eraser) to remove stains. Do not rub hard with the eraser or it will take off some of the suede follicles. There are also sprays for suede that brings the dirt to the surface to be brushed away. Once cleaning has been completed you should spray the water repellant back on the shoes.
One further warning is to not lay suede leather shoes out in direct sun light. This will fade the color and some colors even more. Refurbishing suede is very difficult and may require the help of a shoe repair store.
Nubuck Shoes – Nubuck is dyed with aniline dyes for a deeper stain and the top surface is machined to raise the nap. This results in a richer color and shading, used most often in the more fashion shoes. One of its down sides is that it is more prone to fading when left in direct sun light. The shoes should always be sprayed with a water and stain repellant before ever wearing the shoes. When water no longer beads up on the shoes you should wipe the upper with a clean cloth using clean water. After the nubuck dries you should brush the shoe with a rubber tip brush and then re-spray with the water and stain repellant. Should there be a stain that the brush is unable to take off then a nubuck eraser can be used to take off the more stubborn stain. Be sure not to erase very hard, you can take off some of the color. Then re-spray with water and stain repellant.
Athletic Shoes – Most athletic shoes are made with Leather/man made uppers and nylon fabric material. The shoes can be cleaned with a rag soaked in a solution of dishwater soap by wiping off the whole shoe. You can also buy sneaker shampoo, which like dishwater soap, has a degreaser to help in removing the stubborn stains. Once cleaned the shoes should be left to dry in the open air and not near any heat source. The cleaning process can be made easier if sprayed with a water and stain repellant. This will not stop water from coming into the shoe but will make cleaning easier.
Patent Shoes – Patent leather shoes are made with a coating of Polyurethane over the leather. Polyurethane has flexibility and we don’t see the cracking that uses to occur in years past. However, the patent finish can get dirty with smudges like eye glasses. To clean this material you can buy a cleaner that comes out in foam that takes off the smudges and brings back the shine. You can also use Windex and wipe off with a soft cloth.
Other leathers or finishes – There are other exotic skins and variety of fabrics used in shoes. All of which might require the help of an experienced shoe repair store to clean these shoes. It would be in your best interest to stop in and ask your shoe store who they would recommend.