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How To: Protecting Your Shoes This Winter
In the winter, our shoes go through rain, snow, mud, slush, salt, and a range of other street dirt and chemicals. By winter's end, poorly cared for boots will fall apart or simply look shabby. Keep them in good shape so they'll see you through multiple years.
To avoid ruining a good pair of kicks, buy smart. Materials like suede aren’t ideal for winter. Dampness and salt stains will gradually destroy its makeup. Other organic or synthetic textiles may be more durable for some purposes. Use preventatives! There are tons of products available for you to apply to your boots before you wear them out in the wet weather. Some products include waterproofing to stop material from becoming spotted in water or salt. These usually come in aerosol sprays. Oils, waxes, or rubs that create a protective layer on the boot material helps keep shoes from fading or falling apart. Before you use a product, always test it on a small, inconspicuous part of the shoe to avoid the possibility of an irreversible mistake.
Both suede and nubuck are delicate types of leather. Suede is a soft, thin and pliable with a napped finish, while nubuck is buffed with a velvety-like feel. Nubuck is thicker and stronger than suede, making it a slightly more expensive material. Because these materials are so absorbent, they tend to get dirty quickly. Use a suede and nubuck brush to restore nap and brush out stains. Oil stains can be removed from suede boots by rubbing out as soon as possible with talcum powder. Gently brush off with a towel after leaving for a few hours to soak up the grime
Leather is one of the most common shoe materials as it is flexible, durable, and forms to the foot like no other can. However, leather is a skin, and to keep it looking its best as long as possible, you need to keep it moisturized. Dried leather can wrinkle, crack, or become a lighter colour, becoming more vulnerable to water and salt damage. Polishing your shoes is a great way to keep them moisturized, scuff free, and coated with an extra layer protecting the leather from day to day wear. Apply polish to your shoes using a shine cloth in a gentle, swift circular motion. Watch out for stitching, laces, or outsoles that may be a different colour from the polish you are using.
Buff the excess polish off the shoe using a horsehair brush. Repeat the polish application and buffing process to get a brighter shine. Scuff marks can be removed using baking soda. Simply dip a damp cloth in baking soda and wipe over the scuff marks. Wipe clean, let dry and buff. Use products sparingly - a little goes a long way. Avoid spraying or polishing materials like croco or patent leather so to not lose their signature gloss!
Clean salt stains immediately, as they mar the look of boots and weaken the fabric. If there are metallic parts to your boots like zippers or studs, these will begin to rust if the salt is not removed. Still wet salt lines can be quickly fixed by wiping over the leather boot with a damp, warm cloth. Dried-on salt lines can be removed with commercial products or you can make your own.
All types of boots should be kept clean. A regular wipe-down with warm water for many synthetic or rubber boots will help remove dirt and other encrusted elements. For a deeper clean, look to a foam cleanser, great for cleaning all kinds of shoes and boots, and safe to use on most colours. Most common in sneakers, synthetics are affordable, however they break down more quickly compared to other materials. Cotton, polyester, wool, and nylon are the most common textiles. Variations include fibre type, fabric weight, weaves, and knits.
Deodorize the interior of your boots with baking soda to eat away at the stinky bacteria. Let the boot completely dry before you vacuum or wipe it out. If the boot has laces or a zipper, remove the laces, unzip and pull the tongue of the boot up as much as possible to create airflow. Boot liners that can be removed should be washed separately by hand or in the washing machine depending on its instructions. Make sure they're completely dry before re-inserting into the boots.
Never dry your shoes in front of an open fire or open heat source. This will cause them to crack and dry out too much. Try to dry your shoes upside down over a boot holder or stuff them with newspaper to retain the shape. Never store your boots without cleaning them first and ensuring that they are completely dry, otherwise, you risk finding mouldy, cracked, and possibly ruined boots next winter. Stains left too long may set permanently and weaken the boot. Mold that grows on one boot can cross-contaminate other shoes, boots and items of clothing stored in the same vicinity. Do not store boots in plastic bags! Suede and leather need to breathe, and plastic bags restrict this ability, drying out the boot and trapping mold. Better choices include fabric shoe bags. Store your boots away from direct light or heat sources as to not fade the shoes.
Repeat these steps annually! A well-maintained boot is a long-lasting boot. Check out some of the shoe protection products that we carry here at Heel Boy to give your shoes a little extra lovin’.