Shoe Care Tips

Welcome oh wise person! Great to see you here! Clearly you know the wisdom of investing in good shoe care.

After all ... you've done all your research. You've invested a fair chunk of money. Now you want to get the most out of them you can. It only makes good sense to put a bit of effort into caring for them.

First though let's get right to...

Shoe Care Basics

First simply keep your shoes dry and clean! How hard is that?

Start all your shoe care 'right out of the box'. Before they hit the road for the first time. 

Got leather shoes or boots? Good leather shoe care means a little waxing, polishing and conditioning. Yup, a little elbow grease. Your shoes will love you for it!

Want to improve how weatherproof some leather shoes are? Use a waterproof sealant. It's really good for your leather walking shoes. The ones not specifically advertised as being waterproof. Helps seal up the leather and stitching holes a bit!

Need to care for suede or nubuck leather shoes? Apply spray protection to them. You can't polish them so you want to add stain resistance and moisture repelling to them.

Good walking shoes come in many different materials too. Getting good breathability is easy. Picking good wearing shoes that are easy to look after is a breeze also.

You can even buy shoes that are washable! Yup, just pitch the little darlings in the old washing machine. Make sure you air dry them though! 

Here's a little shoe care trick that will add years to the life of your shoes. It's really simple.

When you find walking shoes you really two pair! Alternate them each day. Wear one pair one day, the other pair the next. Each pair has a chance to rest, air and dry out between uses.

Make note of how far you walk in each pair. Replace them  after about about 500 miles (800 kilometers) when they start to show wear. That's why you pay attention to the outsole and heel material of your shoes.

PU and TPU heels will last longer, rubber will give you better grip in some conditions. Rubber is not as long wearing as PU/TPU but safer. Sort of like our tire analogy in Walking Shoes. Summer tires for wear (PU/TPU) and winter tires for traction (rubber)!  

You can read a bit more in Shoe Types - The Big Picture if you missed it.

Shoe Cleaning Tips

Start with your basic 'kit' of tools.

  • 2 Horse hair brushes (1- cleaning, 1-polishing)
  • 2 Horse hair applicator brushes (for different color polish)
  • Polishing cloth
  • Good waxes, polishes, conditioners or cream polishes
  • Extra rags

Take the usual precautions when you clean your shoes - protect your clothing with an old towel, the floor with an old newspaper or cloth, work in a well lit area and a place where you can get some dirt on the floor!

Oh yeah - if you should be prone to dropping your polish while you're 'applicating', make sure you have a really BIG towel on the floor! Don't laugh. It happens!

Polishing Leather Shoes

Use polishes that contain wax and conditioning agents along with dyes and pigments. Avoid liquid polishes. They can dry out shoe leather and cause cracking.

Remove the laces. Use a brush or damp cloth to remove any dust and dried mud from the uppers, heel and sole. If you happened to have stepped in some 'nasties' you might want to clean the outsole lugs outside!

Apply your polish or conditioner with your applicator brush* in a circular motion. Work the polish into all the little nooks and crannies between sole and upper, eyelets, around the tongue. Then let the shoes rest for 15 minutes.

Do we need to mention you should use a polish that's the same as the original colour of the shoe? We didn't think so!

Now the fun part - rebirth! Brush them first with your polishing brush then buff them to a shine with your polishing cloth. Re-lace and you're off to your outing!

PS. If you're doing several shoes at a time, use a different applicator brush and polish cloth for each colour of polish!

(*you can also use an old toothbrush and rag here. Once you try a horse hair applicator brush though you'll never go back. They do a great job! A lot easier too! One of those 'too soon old, too late smart' discoveries we made)

Suede and Nubuck Leather Shoes

It's pretty hard to 'polish' shoes with a nap! Here we need to take a preventive maintenance approach.

Apply a protective spray that repels water and staining agents. This coating only lasts a while though so you have to repeat it from time to time.

Gently brush suede and nubuck shoes to remove dirt and restore the nap. Use a clean brush!

If you have an oiled nubuck shoe you should consider applying a conditioner to preserve them. If you end up with a stain on these types of shoe look for a solvent-based cleaner designed specifically for suede types of shoes.

Athletic Shoes

This includes most of the trail running, multi-sport and non leather hiking and walking shoes we spoke about in Performance Shoes.

Shoes with a fabric or suede upper can be cleaned much like we outlined just above. In some cases you can also use a foam cleaning spray and a brush to clean them. 

Many shoes today can also be washed either by hand or in your washing machine. Check any special notes the maker included with the shoe or check their website for more detailed shoe care info.

One trick if you do the washing machine trick. Use a shorter cycle with warm or cool water and throw in a large towel or two in the same load. Helps cushion the shoe and keeps down the noise!

Remember to air dry them. You might want to remove the insoles while your drying them too. It will speed things up a bit. Don't pitch them in the dryer though!

Shoe Care Products

So enough talk. You can see just a few suggestions for shoe cleaning aids in the right column. This is only a sampling. Click on any product and you'll have a lot of choices on that page for similar products. 

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