In the last ten years, a survey was done that reported the number of shoes the average American owns. The average American man owned around 12 pairs of shoes and the average American woman owned over double that of men at around 27 pairs. This would put the national average of shoes owned at about 19 pairs per person. That is a lot of shoes.
Every day we put on a pair of shoes before we walk out the door. We expect our shoes to do the job we purchased them for. That job may be running, walking, helping us feel taller, or just being comfortable while we go about our day. We also expect our shoes to last and keep looking great despite all the wear and tear we put on them. What most people don't know is if we want our shoes to last we have to take care of them. So, do you know how to take care of your shoes to give them the longest durability possible?
Storing Your Shoes
Proper shoe care starts with how you store your shoes. Every type of shoe you buy needs to be stored in a cool and dry place. Climate-controlled storage is best for your shoes because of temperature and humidity conditions. These two extremes can cause leather to become brittle, weaken fabrics, and loosen up glues. If you have space in your home, you should store your shoes on shelves or in cubbies.
Homes with ample closet space can easily add space for each shoe to have its own home. For apartments or other small dwellings, that may not be as easy. Try using over-the-door hangers to hang a shoe bag with pockets. You can also add one or more shoe racks or shelves to the floor of a closet. Some people keep the original boxes for their shoes. Using those boxes can be helpful. You can add a label or photo to the box and stack the boxes on top of each other. You shouldn't stack shoeboxes too high though. This will make retrieving the shoebox you want more difficult. Note that storing your shoes in shoeboxes for too long may cause your shoe harm. Remember, shoes need fresh air to keep them in their best condition. If you won't be wearing your shoes for a long time, stuffing the shoes with tissue paper or shoe trees will keep them from sagging or losing their shape over time.
It sounds like an extra step but also be sure to clean off your shoes before putting them away. Wiping down your shoes before putting them away keeps the dirt from drying and staining your shoes.
Shoe Care Kit
As stated above, cleaning your shoes before putting them away helps to prolong their longevity. Wiping the dirt off your shoes is helpful but there are also kits made just for shoes that you can purchase. A shoe care kit usually contains a brush, a cleaner designed for suede, fabric, or leather, shoe cream or polish, and shampoo or cleaning liquid. Each item in the kit works together to keep your shoes clean and looking their very best.
The difference in the kits depends on the type of shoe you’re using it for. A leather shoe care kit might have polish in different colors for instance. Using the included brush with the polish on your leather shoes will give them a nice shine, but it usually has the added effect of water-resistant protection. Protection from water is vital for leather shoes. A shoe care kit for sneakers on the other hand generally has a cleaning solution included. This cleaning solution, along with a bristle brush and a microfiber towel, is very effective in removing dirt and drying your shoes.
At Boger's Shoes, we stock a wide variety of Birkenstocks. One of our favorite shoe care kits is Birkenstock's Deluxe Shoe Care Kit. Included is a cleaner and refresher, water and stain repellent, cork sealer, and a suede/leather brush. Birkenstock's kit is perfect for the needs of Birkenstock footwear. The cleaner and refresher is a non-aerosol spray that cleans and refreshes your Birkenstock footbed. The water and stain repellent protect the suede and leather from water damage and staining. Lastly, the cork sealer protects the cork. Along with the brush, every part of your Birkenstock shoe will be at its best while you're wearing them.
Can You Clean Shoes In The Washer?
Understandably, there will be times when it's just easier to put your shoes in the washing machine. Kid’s shoes tend to get dirty so often that it would be time-consuming to wash them by hand every single time. We even stock a brand of kid's shoes whose best quality is being able to put them in the washing machine. So, the question becomes can you put any shoe in the washing machine? The answer is no. The washing machine is only for certain types of shoes such as running shoes or tennis shoes. Birkenstocks, which are leather and suede, (and shoes like them) should never go in the washing machine. This still means most kids’ shoes can go in the washer as long as you abide by a few rules.
Remove the laces and insoles - Laces can get easily tangled and removing them and putting them in a pillowcase can prevent this. This isn't a necessary step, but we recommend it if you hate to detangle shoelaces. The insole should be washed by hand in warm water and detergent and allowed to air dry.
Choosing the correct cycle - The right washing cycle matters when washing your shoes. You'll need detergent and cold water to wash your shoes. If possible, pick a low speed like a delicate cycle. Using a low spin speed will help keep the washing machine balanced.
Add some towels - If you dislike the sound of your sneakers banging around inside your washing machine, adding 4 to 6 towels will help prevent this.
Following these tips help to prevent damage to your shoes and also your washing machine. If your next question is "Can my shoes also go in the dryer?" then your answer is no. Don't ever put any shoes in the dryer. Dryers use a high concentration of heat to dry clothes quickly. Similar to how you shouldn't leave your shoes out in high temperatures, the dryer will damage the glue that holds your shoes together. Certain fabrics and materials can also shrink, which can cause permanent damage that will affect the fit and performance of your shoes. Instead, air-drying your shoes is the safest solution.
Air Drying Your Shoes
So how do you air dry your shoes if the dryer isn't an option? First do not replace the laces and insoles. Without them, it leaves room for you to stuff your shoes with newspaper. Stay away from parts with too much ink since they may leave mark on your shoes. Be sure to get the newspaper into the toe of the shoe. You might need to replace the newspaper often if the shoes are very wet. Check the newspaper wetness often, and add new newspaper to absorb more water.
Wrap the outside of your shoes with a towel or a sheet. The more absorbent the better. This will dry the outer areas while the newspaper works on the inside. Then place your shoes in a dry and well-ventilated area. Adding a fan or vent with warm but not hot air can help dry them faster. Depending on how much water the material holds, it can take around 12 hours to air dry shoes. Leave them overnight, and in the morning you'll have clean and dry shoes.
Keeping Your Shoes Smelling Good
This final shoe care tip is a preventative one. No one likes shoes that smell, but things like sweat and bacteria can make your shoes smell. Help them smell fresh and last longer by stopping those smells.
A common remedy is baking soda. Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda in your shoes, and let it sit overnight. In the morning dump it out, and you'll have a fresher smelling shoe. You should avoid doing this too often with leather, however. Baking soda may dry the leather out.
For sneakers, especially in the summer, a big problem is sweat. Some salt from the kitchen table will soak up the moisture and kill the smell.
A favorite shoe deodorizer of ours is to use black tea bags. They work to kill the bacteria that cause your shoes to smell. Boil the tea bag in water for two to three minutes, then remove it and let it cool. After an hour or so in your shoe, the bacteria is no more and your shoes smell fresh again.
With these different ways to care for your shoe, they should look nice longer and keep their durability longer. Because here at Boger's Shoes, we care about helping you make sure the shoes you buy from us last as long as you need them.