It’s hard to beat a new pair of crisp white trainers, or lustrous leather boots. The day you take them out for their first spin is guaranteed to be a good one. But unfortunately, life happens. And as they wear and tear over time, they lose their fresh-out-of-the-box allure. Trainers become stained and creased, and leather becomes tough and dry. Although it’s inevitable, there are lots of things you can do to slow the dreaded ageing process down. Here are our top tips to keep your shoes looking fresh for longer.
Use a shoe protector spray
Your shoes endure a lot with every wear. A splash of a puddle here, a drop of coffee there, there’s simply no avoiding it. Even the rain can do damage, especially to delicate materials like suede. Eventually, shoes become scuffed and discoloured. This is why you should invest in a high-quality shoe protector spray. We love Forcefield Protector. This magic spray creates an invisible barrier on the surface of your shoes, repelling water and preventing stains. It even has built in UV protection to shield your shoes from the sun’s destructive rays. The best part is that Forcefield Protector is suitable for leather, suede, canvas, knit, mesh and nubuck, so it can be used for most shoe types. A sure-fire way to prolong their lifespan.
Clean them properly
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so spraying your shoes with protector will stop you having to reverse any disasters. However, if your shoes aren’t sprayed and an accident happens, don’t panic. There are plenty of hacks you can use to remove marks or stains. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that every shoe is different, and the best course of action will depend entirely on its structure and material. Here’s a breakdown of how to clean and maintain all shoe types.
Most trainers are made from mesh or knit material. Because we wear them for walking and exercise, they tend to take quite a battering. Luckily, these materials are relatively easy to clean. Simply dilute a good quality detergent with cold water, lather, and scrub gently. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts and throw them into the washing machine. Not only can this misshape your shoes, but it can also damage your machine. Similarly, do not tumble dry. Leave them to dry naturally outside if possible.
Like skin, leather can show signs of age. In fact, leather is technically a skin, and it stretches and dries out like our own. Therefore, keeping your leather clean is more of a regular practice than an emergency response. Each week, or as often as you can, take the time to softly brush or wipe away any dust on its surface. If your leather shoes or boots become wet, blot away moisture as soon as possible. If you notice a stain developing, use a mix of soap flakes and warm water to gently lift. Polish full-grain leathers once a month to keep their colour vibrant. Keep your leather supple with a conditioning cream or oil too, to be used at the specified intervals.
Patent leather tends to be easier to clean than regular leather. Keep in mind that Forcefield Protector is not suitable for patents, so we recommend buying a separate silicone based protector spray for shoes of this material. If you spot any scuff marks on your patent leather shoes, rub a small amount of Vaseline into the affected area to smoothen it out.
Suede is a particularly delicate material. Once it gets wet, it’s hard to bring back to life. If you do happen to get caught in the rain, your first response should be to soak up as much water as possible as quickly as possible. Paper towels or a clean cloth tend to work well. Blot the area rather than rubbing it to avoid further damage. While the suede is still damp, gently brush it with a soft suede brush. If you don’t have one, a soft-bristle toothbrush is a good alternative. Make sure to brush it in one single direction. Otherwise, it can get worn and tattered looking. Use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to dry the suede as you brush, to prevent it from becoming hard and clumpy. If your suede becomes dirty, try using a clean rubber eraser to lift the grime. Afterwards, brush the material as above.
Synthetic (or vegan) leather is less fussy than the real deal. Dirt or residue collected on the surface can be wiped away with a damp, soapy, non-abrasive cloth. Gently rub the foamy solution in circular motions. We recommend doing this regularly to keep them looking their best. Make sure to let faux leathers dry naturally, as heat can dry them out.
Store them properly
Believe it or not, some of the worst damage can strike when you’re not even wearing your shoes. This is why it’s so important to store them properly. Don’t just chuck them in a pile to the side of your room. Keep them tidy and organised to avoid unnecessary physical damage. Another trick is to stuff your shoes with newspaper while you’re not wearing them. This helps to maintain the structural integrity of the shoe, preventing it from creasing or bending out of shape. This is particularly useful when it comes to packing, when shoes tend to be squeezed and squashed into suitcases.
When it comes to storing leathers and suedes, the golden rule is to keep them away from sunlight and moisture. Leave them in a dry, dark area. Make sure they are far away from heat sources such as radiators. If you can, it’s best to store leather or suede shoes in high quality shoe bags for an extra layer of protection. Good shoes don’t come cheap, so they’re worth the investment.