It Pays to Care for Your Shoes
CARE of your shoes pays in many ways. For one thing it saves money. Well-cared-for shoes do not have to be replaced so often.
Also, with proper care your shoes will always look good when you wear them. They will enhance your appearance, rather than detract from it.
But perhaps the greatest benefit is that well-cared-for shoes give better, more comfortable wear. This can mean improved health and well-being for you.
The time to begin exercising care is when you buy shoes. It is wise to get ones of good quality. True, their initial cost may be higher. But in the long run it will pay economically. You will be able to use them for a long time, putting on three or four new soles before the shoes wear out. And, besides, they will always look better and feel more comfortable.
Leather is usually favored for shoes, because it once served as the skin of a living animal. It has many microscopic pores. So it lets fresh air into the shoe and perspiration out. It “breathes.” This exchange of air and moisture through the leather is healthful and comfortable to your feet.
Of course, there are persons who buy shoes of man-made materials. Although such shoes apparently do not “breathe” as well, if at all, and so may be inclined to cause more foot perspiration, some persons feel they have advantages. For example, they can be less expensive. Also they are considerably waterproof. But shoe repairmen generally say that shoes made of leather are best.
If you decide to shop for leather shoes, there are certain things to check inside the shoe. Is the heel pad of real leather? Is also the insole, that part upon which the ball of the foot rests? What about the heel lining? These parts all are of leather in quality shoes. But in many shoes cardboard or other inferior materials are used. These prevent evaporation, and they deteriorate faster than leather.
Turn the shoe over and examine the bottom. Is there stitching that secures the outersole to the welt, that narrow strip of leather around the sole’s top edge? The soles of many cheaper dress shoes are simply cemented on, and so may easily come loose.
Is the outersole leather? Leather is more puncture resistant than rubber. And it is dressier, since its edges will take a shine better. However, rubber is more water resistant, and probably gives more wear for the money than most grades of leather. So rubber soles may be preferred in some instances over leather. But, as for the heels, rubber is definitely superior to leather on men’s shoes, lasting longer and being more comfortable.
Care of New Shoes
When you get a new pair of shoes, it is wise to give them prompt attention. The care that shoes receive when new affects how well they last.
First, many persons find that it is good to treat new shoes with a silicone water repellent, a liquid that penetrates leather. It keeps shoes soft and comfortable, and prevents water, salts and perspiration from drying out the leather. After its application, let the shoes dry thoroughly.
Next, new shoes should be protected with waxes. Good shoe pastes and creams have a combination of these waxes. These nourish the leather, as well as keep out dirt. But liquid or spray polishes fail to provide adequate protection.
If the shoes are of an off shade it may be difficult to find the color of polish to match them. Grays, off-whites and pastels are particularly hard to match. For such color shoes it is advisable to use a neutral polish.
When you put on your new shoes, be especially careful that the tongue and laces are smooth and straight. If they are started out right, they are likely to stay that way.
Continual Shoe Care
Shoes require continual care, not just when they are purchased. This involves watching how you walk. If you want your shoes to look nice, do not kick at things or in other ways carelessly abuse the shoes.
Also be careful when putting them on and taking them off. Do not force shoes on or off without loosening the laces. If you do, you may damage the back of the shoe, perhaps pressing it all out of shape. Use of a shoehorn represents good shoe care. It will protect the back of the shoes.
It is often recommended that shoe trees or forms be used, especially in men’s shoes. These forms fit into a shoe to maintain its proper shape and to prevent it from curling and wrinkling. But care should be exercised that the forms are not adjusted with so much pressure that they force the shoe out of shape. In fact, one shoe repairman, who has seen many shoes damaged by improperly adjusted shoe trees, felt that they usually do more harm than good.
Regularly check the condition of your shoes. If there is a gash or scuff mark, what can be done? “Touch up” crayons can be bought at some stores or shoe repair shops. The scuffed area can be colored to match the shoe, a paste polish put over it, and the damage covered over.
What does examination of your outersoles reveal? It pays not to let them wear through on the edges, so that the welt needs to be repaired or replaced. This repair work is expensive. Also, heels should be replaced before they are too badly worn. Otherwise they can contribute to posture problems.
Good care of shoes involves permitting them to rest and dry out. Even though leather “breathes,” feet perspire to such an extent that moisture accumulates in shoes. This is harmful, deteriorating the inside leather. Thus, when possible, it is wise to have more than one pair of shoes, so one pair can be worn one day and the other the next. In the long run such a practice proves economical.
Regular Cleaning and Polishing
The best way you can care for your shoes is by keeping the leather in good condition. It pays to polish them often, once a week or so. Waxes in the polish will prevent the leather from drying out and cracking.
But make sure that shoes are dry and clean before polishing them. Never put wax on a dirty shoe. Usually cleaning simply involves wiping the dust off with a rag, though sometimes a damp or wet cloth may be needed.
When shoes are very dirty, saddle soap is a good cleanser. It is best applied as suds, using a sponge no wetter than necessary to create a thick lather. Saddle soap is good because it also acts as a lubricant to the leather. However, regular soap and warm water will also remove absorbed or encrusted dirt. Then be sure to wait until the shoes are thoroughly dry before polishing them.
Some persons prefer to apply the paste polish with their fingers. They believe that by lightly running the fingers over the paste and then over the shoe, friction is built up and the waxes are worked into the leather better. Also, they believe that paste can be more evenly distributed this way; an excess is not so apt to be applied. But, of course, use of a dauber or rag or powder puff can prevent your fingers from getting dirty. After the paste is applied, a brisk rubbing with a brush or soft cloth will produce a shine.
Special Care Tips
A situation critical to shoes is when they become soaked. Perhaps you step into some deep mud. What should you do?
After taking your shoes off, take the laces out or open the straps all the way to expose the inside. Stuff them with wads of newspaper, or insert wooden shoe forms. Clean the outside surfaces with newspapers or an old rag. Now allow them to dry in a relatively cool place. Never put them near heat or fire to dry out, for this will crack the leather. After they are nearly dry, you may need to use saddle soap to finish the cleaning job.
When the shoes are thoroughly clean and dry, they can be treated with a silicone water repellent. Let this dry. Now work into the leather a good shoe cream and give them a regular polishing with paste wax. Your shoes should be as good as new!
But what if you get spots on your shoes that do not come off with soap and water? Perhaps you have tar stains on them. Never use alcohol or bleaches. These will ruin the leather. Rather use a dry-cleaning fluid that is designed for fabrics. Dip a piece of cloth in the cleaner and rub lightly over the spots.
The way to clean suede shoes is to rub them lightly with a suede brush, but a fine grade of sandpaper works better in getting out spots.
Applying the above suggestions will do much to make your shoes look presentable and wear longer. It really does pay to care for your shoes.