How to Keep Every Type of Shoe in the Best Possible Shape
There's a distinct feeling of satisfaction that comes with buying a brand-new pair of shoes—and these days, we'll take every tiny pleasure we can get. But our shoes, more than any other item of clothing or accessory, can take a beating. We run in them, dance in them, trudge through the snow in them, which makes shoe maintenance all the more important. After all, when we splurge on a new pair, we want to get the most possible mileage (literally) out of them.
To help you do so, we tapped Macu Santiago, a shoe buyer and the co-owner of Olivia Boutique, and asked her to share her expert advice for keeping every type of shoe in the best shape. But first, she gave us some general tips for getting the most life out of your kicks. "Treat your shoes with love. Take them to the shoe doctor (the repair shop) often. Don't wait until they're severely damaged," advises Santiago, noting that "humidity is a shoe's number-one enemy, so keep them in a cool, dry place. And if you store your shoes in boxes, make sure you have enough silica bags inside." Finally, Santiago encourages investing in quality over quantity. "I have pairs that have been with me for decades!" Below, see Santiago's pro tips for keeping each type of shoe in the best possible condition.
High heels aren't designed to pound the pavement like, say, a pair of flats are; understandably, they require more maintenance. "Wipe them with a soft damp cloth and check for scratches and other minor damages," says Santiago. "Use a metal nail file to smooth the edges of the heel tips—and replace the rubber half-soles on the bottom of the shoe as often as needed."
After you wipe down your go-to pair of ballet flats, "sprinkle the inside with some baking soda to keep them fresh," suggests Santiago. "Use cedar shoe tree inserts for loafers and tissue paper for other styles to help them keep their shape."
Combine the above preliminary methods—wipe them down, check for scratches, and lightly fill the interior with baking soda—as a first step when caring for your leather boots. "Then, apply Vaseline to the outside—but always try an inconspicuous area first before using it on the whole shoe," advises Santiago. "For white leather, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ($2.99 for two, walgreens.com) is great to remove dirt, scratches and stains." She also suggests investing in a good pair of boot trees to help maintain their form and shape, but "you can also use a rolled up magazine."
While using Santiago's baking soda trick will keep winter boots smelling fresh, the most important takeaway is to keep them dry. "Let the material 100-percent air dry before storing them," says Santiago.
Naturally, the same goes for your rain boots. "Dry, dry, dry them!" she says. "Instead of keeping them upright to dry, hang them upside down—and, of course, use baking soda on the inside."
Running and Fashion Sneakers
"First remove the laces and inserts," notes Santiago, "and spray everything with Oxiclean ($3.99, target.com)." If you're grappling with a tough stains, use a detergent pen for a spot treatment. "Then, put them inside a laundry bag and wash them in the machine with your workout clothing. Finally, air dry," she explains. You treat the kicks you wear for flair similarly—remove the laces and inserts, for starters—but skip the wash cycle. A soft, damp cloth and a sprinkle of baking soda is all you need to keep these items looking their best.
Rubber flip-flops often get stinky quickly, but mitigating this is a breeze. Simply wash them in an empty dishwasher on a regular cycle. As for all other types of sandals? Simply wipe them down. If odor is a problem, swab the inside with a drop of tea tree oil. "It's an anti-fungal agent," explains Santiago.