3rd November 2021

A new pair of shoes is one of life’s delights – treat them well and they’ll become like old friends

If you really want to get the best out of your shoes, you need to treat them right from the moment you buy them. You should only wear them for a few hours at a time the first couple of times you wear them. This gives them time to adapt to your feet gradually which is easier on the leather and your feet!

Even when they are properly worn in, try not to wear them on consecutive days, they need time to dry and reshape after each outing. Shoe trees are great for this – it’s well worth buying some for your most treasured shoes.

Try to avoid getting your shoes soaked, but if you do, stuff them with paper, or use shoe trees and let them dry naturally. Don’t wear them again before they have dried properly and do not be tempted to blast them with a hairdryer. This will rob them of the natural oils that keep them flexible.

Invest in a shoehorn and perhaps a shoe tree

Put them on carefully – even use a shoehorn. The back of the shoe is essential to its structure and you should avoid damaging it. Check the soles and heels regularly and if the soles show signs of thinning or the heels are nearly worn out, get them repaired. The longer you wear them while they need repairs, the more likely they are to sustain irreparable damage. Find a good shoe repairer by checking their ratings online – there are plenty around. Storing your shoes on a shoetree will also help them stay beautiful for longer.

The most effective thing you can do to prolong the life of your shoes is to polish them regularly. Some people recommend you do this every time you wear them, but you should aim to do it at least once a week. A good quality shoe polish will nourish the leather and keep it from drying and splitting. And nothing looks smarter than shoes with a nice shine.

How to clean your shoes

Before you apply polish, remove any dirt with a soft dry brush – any grit left on could damage the leather during the polishing stage.

Then apply a good quality polish, either with a brush or a cloth, evenly, all over the shoe. Remember to polish the less obvious parts, this is as important for the condition of the leather as it is for the look of the shoes. Make sure you rub the polish in well.

Let the polish dry for a few minutes then you can either buff them with a brush or, if you’re really going to town, apply another coat of polish. After you have buffed them with a brush, give them a quick wipe down with a soft cloth. This will remove any excess polish and bring the shine up even more.

Leather and Suede – Protection Better than Cure

If your shoes are made of suede, the most effective thing you can do is to apply a suede protector. This will repel water and dirt and help keep them looking new. You can buy suede protector at shoe shops and repairers.

You should reapply the protector every couple of months after giving your shoes a careful going over with a suede brush. If you have any stubborn marks, try steaming the suede by holding them over a kettle or boiling pan of water (be careful not to scald your hands). Then brush them while they are damp, leave them to dry then reapply the suede protector.

If all this sounds like a lot of hard work, you’ll be surprised how quickly it can become part of your routine. You’ll also be surprised how long your shoes last!