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How-To Care For Your Shoes

In a perfect world, we'd all have in our possession enough shoes to wear a different pair every single day of the year. But alas, the world is cruel. And so most of us must persist with only one or two (or three or four) dozen pairs of shoes in our wardrobe. To get the most out of all your shoes--especially your most trusted, go-to shoes--there are a lot of simple steps you can take.

  1. Alternate your shoes daily. For most shoe soles, the material of the sole needs about 24 hours to recover its padding and buoyancy. If you let the soles properly recover, they'll stay with you for many more miles.
  2. For women, keep a pair of flats handy in your car. Change into them whenever you drive. Otherwise, you risk breaking a valuable, expensive high heel.
  3. Clean your shoes frequently. For most leathers, this means first wiping off any surface-level dirt or dust with a damp cloth. Second, wipe your shoes down again with the damp cloth, this time with soapy water. Wipe away the excess. Finally, apply leather cleaner all over the shoes, both inside and out, then wipe away the excess. Let the shoes dry.
  4. To clean suede or nubuck shoes, scrub the dirt away with a pencil eraser or fine sandpaper. After you're done, you can rub the shoes with a bath towel to restore the material's nappy texture.
  5. Protect your shoes from water and other elements. You can do so simply by polishing or waxing your shoes frequently. Not only will it protect your shoes. It’ll also lend them a nice clean sheen. Just be sure to choose the correct color of polish/wax to go with your shoes. Alternatively, you can purchase a water & stain protecting spray, applying to your shoes twice.
  6. If you wear leather shoes out in the rain (which is something you should avoid if you can, of course), be sure that they dry completely before you wear them again.
  7. To remove stains or tough scuffs from your shoes, you can use a professional grade dry cleaner or color preparer (test the product on a small area of the shoe to see how well it works before you commit to using it though). Alternatively, you can mix equal parts white vinegar and water, dampen a cloth with the mixture, and scrub away at the stain. For suede or nubuck, use a nylon bristle brush instead of a cloth.
  8. To deodorize your shoes, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda into them, shake them to distribute the powder evenly, and then let it stand overnight (or for several nights, in extreme cases of smelliness). Baking soda is notorious for absorbing odor-causing bacteria. When your shoes are ready, just shake out the baking soda. You can also apply a shoe freshening spray to help deodorize.
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