Last week, we gave you tips on how to store your expensive handbags to keep them looking brand new for longer. This week, we'll be talking about how to clean different types of preloved shoes.
A well-made shoe is built to last, which is why shoes are some of the most popular thrifted items. If you're planning on snagging some preloved shoes, here are some ways to spruce them up before they're ready to wear.
One note: of all materials, damaged faux leather is the hardest to salvage as it is prone to crumbling and peeling badly, so keep this in mind before shopping.
Disinfect the Insole
There are many spray products available to disinfect and deodorize shoes. However, before going to the store, just check if you have some rubbing alcohol or disinfectant wipes at home: those will do the trick just fine! Put on some gloves and first wipe down the outside of the shoe. Then get another wipe and vigorously clean the insole. Pay special attention to the toes and the heel, as this is where the foot's natural oils start to wear down the shoe the most. Freshen it with some spray deodorant, and voila!
Canvas shoes are the easiest to clean: just use laundry detergent mixed in water, and a small nail brush or toothbrush. Start by removing the laces; you can soak those in soapy water while you start cleaning the rubber soles and sides. Use lukewarm water, as hot water can loosen the glue that holds the shoe together. Next, use the brush to scrub the canvas of the shoe. Finally, scrub the laces well (they absorb the most dirt and hand oils) and hang dry. Always let your shoes air-dry, or use a hairdryer on low setting; don't place them near direct heat. You can finish white canvas sneakers by dabbing some white polish for stain coverage.
Whatever you do, don't get it wet! Instead, use disinfectant wipes, or even baby wipes to gently wipe away any dirt and stains. If you don't have any leather cleaner, simply get a microfiber cloth and dip into some clear vinegar. Squeeze it out and then use the cloth to remove any caked up dirt. Finish with a shoe polish of the same colour. Fun fact: a banana peel is a great DIY hack that will gently clean your leather and give it a bit of shine.
Cleaning suede can be the trickiest since it's a textured, delicate surface that does NOT like getting wet. For a suede shoe coated in dust, get a wire bristle brush and gently brush the suede in one direction. You can use a softer brush to really get into the border between the shell and sole, where the most dirt collects.
For water stains, hold a clothing steamer 4-5 inches away and steam the whole surface of the shoe. Then press dry with a microfiber towel. For other stains, get a rectangular eraser and rub gently but persistently. Finish off with a final brush and some suede protectant spray.
Take it to a cobbler
There are limits to DIY, of course: if the shoe has a peeling sole, some cracks in the (genuine) leather or some colour rubbed off, never fear; your local mochi is equipped to handle all of these problems! Leather that is cracking or has its color scuffed off can easily be polished or repainted with special leather paint, which can also stick down any cracked edges. Even scuffed suede can often be brought back to life by a professional. One short trip to the cobbler can dramatically lengthen the life of your shoes.
With a little love, effort and DIY magic, even preloved shoes can look good as new and serve you for a long time.