There’s no doubt that footwear takes a beating, whether in summer or winter. What’s more, without proper care your shoes will start to wear out sooner rather than later. Here are four easy fixes for everyday shoes problems to help extend their life and keep them looking their best possible.
1. “My shoes have salt stains on them”
The salt spread on icy roads and pavements in winter for our safety can leave a telltale white tidemark when it dries on your leather shoes and boots.
Rub out winter salt with vinegar
With a diluted white vinegar solution – roughly two parts water to one part vinegar – and a paper towel or soft cloth, you should be able to wipe off the marks.
- Work a small area at a time, buffing the shoes dry as you go, then polish them as normal.
- For suede shoes, use the same vinegar solution, but apply it with a clean toothbrush or suede brush.
To clean suede shoes
Before removing any salt stains, you’ll want to first take off any accumulated dirt. To do this:
- Loosen any dirt by first rubbing the shoes with an old towel.
- Next, rub away any stubborn scuffs with a pencil eraser.
- Finish by brushing the shoes with a suede brush.
- If there are salt stains, remove as instructed above.
2. “The sole has come away from my shoe”
Whether due to wear and tear or a defect, a loose sole can quickly spell the end of your shoe.
Glue it back in place
First, clean and dry the area that needs repairing. Then, as a quick fix, apply a special shoe sole adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (You can buy this shoe glue from a shoe repair shop.)
- Wait for 10 minutes, until the adhesive is tacky, then carefully push the sole back into position.
- Hold the repair firmly together and use a hair dryer to warm the adhesive as it sets. This will help to prevent lumps from forming and will give you a much better, more watertight repair.
- Don’t use a hot-glue gun or ordinary household adhesive unless it is an emergency – the fix won’t last long.
For a long-term solution, a flapping sole needs to be repaired by a professional.
3. “I’ve run out of shoe polish!”
Even the nicest shoes can look grubby if they’re dull and dirty. What if you have no shoe polish handy?
Improvise using items already around the house
Many ordinary household products can substitute for shoe polish: petroleum jelly, furniture polish and hand lotion will all work well on leather.
- Dab a little on your shoes and work in with a soft cloth, then buff to a shine with a clean cloth.
- Patent leather can be brought to a shine with a soft cloth dipped in vinegar.
- When you’re finished polishing, lightly spray the shoes with hair spray. The polish won’t rub off so easily with this extra coat of protection.
4. “My shoes are too tight”
It’s happened to all of us before: those beautiful shoes that fit perfectly in the store now seem a little tight.
Try some stretching exercises
Tight shoes should be gently stretched to avoid damaging the leather or stitching. The best way to do this? Put on a pair of thick socks and wear the (now even tighter) shoes indoors for a few days.
- First spray the insides of the shoes with a 1:1 mix of rubbing alcohol and water. (Test a small patch for colour fastness first.)
- Walk around in the shoes for about 30 minutes each day. Repeat the process a few times to improve comfort. Just ensure that you don’t get blisters!
- While not wearing the shoes, stuff them with damp balled-up newspaper and allow it to dry. The additional moisture should help ease the fit.
When not to stretch shoes
Never try to stretch expensive shoes yourself. It’s an imprecise science and could result in damage. If you can’t get a refund or replacement pair in a larger size, take the shoes to professional shoe repair shop where they can be stretched under more controlled conditions.
With a little care, a good pair of shoes can last for years and look almost like new. That’s why you’ll always want to fix small problems before they become big ones, otherwise you might end up having to replace them unnecessarily.