It’s that time of year again. We’ve got rain, snow, mud, slush and everything in between for the next 6 months and a common question we get is, how do I take care of my shoes? Well, there’s a lot of ways we can answer that question, so let’s cover them all, starting with shoe care basics.
Maintenance Of Your Suede Shoes
Just because the grounds getting wet doesn’t mean you can’t have suede footwear. Like leather, the key to longevity is maintenance and proper care of your shoes and boots. It’s all about keeping the suede looking fresh and lifted.
How to Maintain Your Shoes
The best way to keep the pile on your suede shoes looking fresh and lifted is to regularly brush the suede and tackle any minor or major scuffs as quickly as possible. A scuff is usually just the nap being compressed or pushed in a direction opposite to it’s natural grain causing the imperfection. With regular maintenance the nap remains limber and the faster you’re able to address the scuff, the easier it will be to restore it.
Brush: Suede brushes can be found as an individual pieces or as a multi-tool. A single brush features semi stiff bristles for brushing. A multi-tool brush can come with a variety of additions including stiff rubber edges for fine seams, a rubber brush side, or a wire brush side for more intensive care.
- Brush of choice for maintenance
- Synthetic brush
- Horse hair brush
- Rubber brush
- Clean toothbrush
How to Brush: Brushing your shoes is as easy as it sounds. Take your suede brush of choice and brush with strokes pushing from back to front. If brushing the shaft of the boots, you will want to brush top to bottom. To get into any tight spots or seams, we recommend picking up a brush with a narrow rubber addition.
TIP: It’s important to brush your suede in the correct direction. One thing to watch is the colour and texture while brushing. If the suede has changed colour or texture from the rest of the shoe, you’re likely brushing the wrong way.
Suede Scuffs: If you’ve got some scuffs on your shoes, don’t worry, it can likely be fixed! Most minor scuffs can be fixed with your regular suede brush. Deeper or more intense marks will likely need more effort or intensive tools.
- Wire brush
- Butter Knife
- Suede Eraser
- Pencil Eraser
How to Brush Out Scuffs: With light scuffs simply give the area a bit more attention with your suede brush of choice and it should clear. For major scuffs use the wire bristles and brush the area. If the mark is very deep, you may always try using a butter knife and scraping it (carefully) over the nap to lift. If you’re concerned about using a knife, rubbing a suede eraser or clean pencil eraser over the area will help do the trick.
TIP: Try not to use to the more intensive brushing methods often. It will start to wear on the suede faster than regular brushes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between suede and nubuck?: While both suede and nubuck yield similar looking results, it’s how the leather is used that’s different. Suede is created by sanding the underside of leather to create the soft texture. Nubuck is created by sanding the outer side of the leather which also creates the soft texture but is more sturdy and durable than the underside. This often makes nubuck footwear the more expensive of the two.
How often should I brush my shoes?: How often you brush your shoes depends on how often you wear or scuff them. If you regularly wear your suede shoes, about once or twice a week to keep them fresh. For less frequent wearers, brush whenever the pile begins to look roughed up or a scuffs appears.
How many of these tools do I need?: How many tools you pick-up depends on the quality and amount of time you’re looking to invest in your suede.
Low: A clean toothbrush and clean pencil eraser should have you pretty well covered if just looking to do occasional spot cleaning and brushing.
Medium: Pick-up a great multi-tool suede brush that will cover both regular maintenance and major scuffs. Check out our Walter’s Shoe Care suede brush.
High: Find high quality tools like a nice horse hair brush, wire brush, suede eraser, and even a suede renew spray to rejuvenate the colour. See our Walters Shoe Care suede renew for black suede shoes and boots or Foam Cleaner
Maintenance of Your Textile Shoes
Textile shoes are likely the type of material with the least about of regular maintenance but most likely show dirty, scuffs and imperfections. They're a great and cheaper alternative to suede and leathers coming in a variety of styles like satin, velvet, cotton canvas, neoprene, jersey and more.
How to Maintain Your Shoes
With textiles, there’s not much prior work like one would polish a leather shoe or brush a suede boot, but rather keeping on top of the shoes as they scuff, get dirty and start to smell. The quicker you’re able to address these concerns, the easier they’ll be to fix.
Stains: When we refers to stains, we mean the dirt marks, muddy splatters, spilled drinks, grass stains etc. These are just some of the ways our shoes can get marked in daily use and lucky enough they can be pretty easy to fix.
- Clean toothbrush
- Cleaning brush
- Clean towel
- Laundry machine
- Dish soap
- Laundry detergent/ stain remover
- Tide to go stick
- 1 part vinegar to 1 part water mixture
How to Clean Your Textile Shoes: The best part about textile shoes is that you can clean them like you would your clothes. If stated by the brand, the easiest way to clean your shoes is by adding a bit of stain remover (follow the instructions on the bottle) and then throwing them in the laundry. If not condoned by the brand, spot cleaning is your next best option.
When tackling spot cleaning, you have a variety of cleaning methods to choose from. It’s best to think what the stain is so you’ll know how best to tackle it. For example: regular laundry stain removers can work for most stains but require heavy rinsing afterward that may leave your shoe to dry for an extended period of time. Dish Soap is great for combating oils found in a lot of food related stains. Laundry Detergent is great when working with colours. Vinegar and water will do the trick on most stains while keeping it green conscientious. A tide to go stick is perfect white shoes.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, grab a cleaning tool of choice and start scrubbing/dabbing the stain to remove it.
TIP: It’s always recommended to use warm water to lift stains when spot treating and to stuff your shoes with a towel, or paper once finished so it can maintain its proper shape while drying.
Scuffs: Many textile shoes come with rubber soles that can get easily scuffed up especially when they’re white. While it can’t be treated the same as textile, there’s other solutions to clean them up.
- Mr. Clean magic eraser
- Clean rubber eraser
- Soap and brush
How to Clean Scuffs: If available, pick-up a good old mr. clean magic eraser. It’ll remove all scuffs, marks and stains on the sole of your shoes. For a second best option, a clean eraser will do the trick on most sole related scuffs, rubbing them away. Finally some soap, water, a good brush and elbow grease will eventually remove scuffs. It just takes some extra effort.
TIP: When tackling the sole, it’s likely the area around the scuff you’re cleaning will also have an extra surface dirt and grime removed with it, leaving a single clean patch. It best to prepare for cleaning the whole sole just to make sure everything is even.
Smell: The thing with textiles is they don’t quite have the same abilities as suede or leather to let the foot breath in the shoe. This not only tends to cause sweating but will also trap scents in the shoe only to be released once you’ve taken them off. No one likes stinky feet so here’s a good way to keep it under control.
- Spray bottle filled with 1 part vinegar and one 1 part water
- Spray bottle filled with 1 part vodka and one part water
- Odour and disinfecting sprays.
How to Rid Your Shoes of Odour: If you’re not looking to launch your shoes in the washing machine, there’s a couple of spray options to keep the stink at bay.
Often there’s a variety of brand name spray options available at your local sports or box stores. Look for options made for sports bags or shoes like a hockey bag or soccer cleats. If you’re not looking to spend on a spray, an easy at home solution can be made. Take 1 part water and one part vodka (or vinegar if you’re not looking to part with the vodka) in a spray bottle and lightly saturate the insides of your shoes. Leave to dry in an open, airy space overnight and the smell of both your feet and the vodka or vinegar will be neutralized so you’re ready to go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I throw my (insert brand here) in the laundry?: Before throwing any pair of shoes in the laundry we highly recommend to check the product description on our website or with the brand itself. Even if one style is laundry safe, it doesn’t mean they all are and it’s always better safe than sorry.
Can I use suede or leather cleaners on my textile shoes?: No. Suede and leather cleaners are much more intense products made specifically for those materials so it may react negatively to the textile or the colours. We recommend sticking to the rule of thumb, if you can use it on your clothes, you can use it on your textile shoes.
How much time should I be investing into keep my shoes clean?: This is a personal preference. If you want to keep them looking brand new, then a lot of time to tackle every scuff and stain as they appears. If not, then just clean as it suits you. It’s ok to let your shoes get a little dirty, it adds character. We would just say tackle any large or really distracting stains like a coffee stain on a white pair of Supergas.
Stay tuned for Shoe Care 102: Shoe Protection