Shoe Care 101: How do I treat my shoes right?

I bought a new pair of shoes this weekend. Actually, they’re a pair of Keen sandals, but they are leather and weren’t cheap. Which got me to thinking about taking care of shoes, and how I basically don’t.

I own several pairs of shoes, most of which are, at least in part, some kind of leather. I don’t abuse them, and I rarely wear them more than one day in a row. But I could probably do more.

What are some general overall tips on shoe care that will help me keep all of my shoes – old, new, yet-to-be-bought – in the best possible shape for as long as is practical? How often do I need to polish – or is polish a mug’s game? Should I really get cedar inserts for them?

The number one rule for leather is: don’t get it wet. If you do get it wet, let it dry thoroughly. By not wearing your shoes more than one day in a row, you’re already letting the stored up moisture have time to evaporate.

The number two rule is, use a shoe horn. It helps you get your foot in there without mashing the back of the shoes.

Polishing is primarily for looks, but a fresh coat of wax polish does offer some water repellence. Liquid polish does not – it’s strictly for appearance.

Every once in awhile, use saddle soap to clean and soften the leather. A good cleaning followed by a round of polish and buffing is a quaint yet manly pastime akin to sitting in a wingback chair, sipping brandy and reading a good book.

If you get salt on your shoes in the winter, clean them immediately. You may have to get a bottle of salt neutralizer.

My father was a firm believer in inserts (also known as shoe trees). He argued that they helped the shoes keep their shape after repeated wearings. I’ve never found that they did much, however. Wood inserts supposedly help the shoes breathe better, but no, you don’t have to get cedar – they smell nice for a little while, and that’s about it.

hard to improve on the advice of** kunilou**The only thing I would say is if you are breaking in a pair of hiking boots, walk into a stream and get them soaked. (they are going to get wet sooner or later) Then let them dry onto your feet. If they don’t fit then, throw them away and get a different pair, they are never going to fit. Just a tip from someone who did more than one lap around the block in LPC’s (Leather Personnel Carriers).

Treating leather w/ neatsfoot oil will keep it supple and extend it’s useful life.