8 Ways To Make Shoes Last Longer

If you have kids, chances are good that at some point you have been heard to say “Untie your shoelaces before your take off your shoes! Perhaps you have said it emphatically, even loudly, in the hope that your uncaring children might acknowledge your demands and actually comply with them. Perhaps, like me, you have given up…

Although we might chastise our kids for not caring for their things, including their footwear, I am increasingly realizing that I have not been caring for my footwear nearly as well as I might. Perhaps you are abusing your sneakers and shoes, too, without even realizing it. Of course, wear and tear is to be expected, but there are several things that we can do to make sure that our footwear lasts as long as possible. Here are a few suggestions:

Use a Shoe Horn: You are probably familiar with the process of putting on footwear without the aid of a shoe horn. Your toes enter the shoe and slide about three-quarters of the way to the toe of the shoe and then stop. You then begin to pivot your foot back and forth while applying pressure with your heel to the back of your shoe. Over time, this pivoting will cause the back of your shoe to break. Whether you are wearing sneakers or dress shoes or something in between, the use of shoe horn will save the back of your shoes for a long, long time.

Use Heel Savers: Heel and sole savers are available in the shoe care section of your grocery store. You can also purchase them and have them applied in a cobbler’s shop. They are small pieces of hard plastic that can be nailed into the sole or heel of a shoe (but not sneakers) in order to stop the sole or heel from wearing down. We all have different pressure patterns when our feet hit the ground. Heel saves ensure that the spots that get the most pressure will not erode.

Use Shoe Trees: Always store your dress shoes with shoe trees inside them. Shoe trees will help to preserve the shape of your shoes and good quality cedar shoe trees will help to keep them from smelling like old shoes.

Wear Socks with your Sneakers: Sweat is the enemy. Never put on your sneakers if you are not wearing socks. Foot sweat contributes a great deal to the destruction of inner soles. As an added incentive, socks will help you to avoid calluses.

Keep Shoes Away from Pets: Maybe it goes without saying, but dogs like to chew on things. Shoes left unattended become chew toys very quickly. When you remove your shoes, put them away in a secure closet or wherever you store your shoes. Just make sure that they are kept well out of reach of Fido.

Waterproof Boots and Other Shoes that will be Worn in the Rain or Snow: Apply a waterproofing spray to any footwear that will or could become wet. Keeping water out of your footwear helps to ensure a longer life for your footwear.

Buy Rubbers: When I was much younger, everyone owned rubbers (no, not that kind — we are talking about shoes) that could be worn over work shoes. They kept the rain and snow out of shoes when people were heading to work. They have fallen out of fashion but remain just as useful.

Clean Your Shoes: Built up dirt on a shoe will hasten its demise. Keep your footwear clean and you will be able to enjoy it longer.

How do you keep your sneakers and shoes useful for as long as possible? What care tips have you learned? How long do you think a shoe should last?

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8 Responses to 8 Ways To Make Shoes Last Longer

  1. Annie Jones says:

    When I was growing up, my parents owned a shoe store. They used shoe horns (they were stainless steel and we called them shoe “spoons”) to help customers slide shoes on, but oddly enough, we never used them at home.

    I think a shoe’s wear is determined by a person’s gait and the work they do as much as by how they care for their shoes.

    My granddaughter will outgrow shoes or wear them out from heavy play. My adult daughter walks heavily (did so even as a child) and has always gone through shoes quickly. My husband wears his work boots almost daily and goes through a couple of pairs of quality boots a year.

    I walk more lightly and my shoes will usually fall out of fashion before they wear out. My tennis shoes will lose their “bounce” in the sole and insole long before they show wear on the sole or upper. Still, a pair of tennis shoes usually lasts me a year or longer.

    Any other shoes I own (dress shoes, sandals, casuals) last much longer than that, largely because I don’t wear them as often.

  2. Ann says:

    I expect good shoes to last quite a while and, over the years, have found that most sneakers aren’t very comfortable without socks. :-)

    I found it interesting that you mentioned rubbers. I was just thinking recently about how you don’t see rainboots, like I did as a teenager or kid, these days. Sure it was the 60’s but I still remember wearing black vinyl rainboots, a black vinyl belted raincoat and carrying a matching black vinyl umbrella with clear vinyl circles in it so that you could see where you’re going through it. LOL

    Cleaning and shining leather, using mink oil on them in case you step in a puddle and a water resistant spray on suede were all part of the care I took of shoes when I was younger. With dress shoes, I still do the same.

    One thing you forgot — throwing sneakers in the washer. Can’t think of a faster way to “wear out” a pair! Though it’s a bit of a pain, soaking and hand washing (using a soft brush to get the really dirty parts clean) definitely seems to make them last longer!

    May sound funny, but you brought back some memories, Dave! 😉

  3. jaine says:

    I take my nice shoes off for driving – otherwise the back of my right heel gets worn away from propping my foot up for the gas pedal.

  4. jaine says:

    Forgot to mention – barefoot running and its benefits have been in the news a lot lately in the NY Times – so that’s an easy way to save $100 on sports shoes! :)

  5. sewingirl says:

    My Mother still has dress heels from the ’50s that she wears on Sundays. Black leather pumps with a cute grosgrain bow. She polishes them twice a year, and stores them in their box with shoe trees in them. Compulsive, but it works!!

  6. Gail says:

    I was just thinking last night about when was the last time I bought a new pair of shoes. I can’t remember, but I think something like 7-8 years ago. I own 4 pairs of shoes and mostly wear 2 of them (the other two one is too tight and the other are summer sandals). The two I wear a lot are worn out but still comfy. I hate show shopping due to big feet and problems trying to find shoes to fit and that are appropriate to my life style. Keeping your shoes in good shape certainly can make a pair last better. But I do wonder about people who are constantly ‘needing’ a new pair of shoes!

  7. A Fan says:

    Another great and informative article David! Thank you! :)
    I didn’t know about the heel savers and that is exactly what is needed for my family member!
    As soon as I am finished writing this I am going to look in the yellow pages for the nearest shoe repair service.
    Keep those wonderful and informative articles coming Dave! :)

  8. Forest says:

    Maybe rubbers need to be made trendy…. people are too self conscious for such footware saving devices these days! Great list.

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