Investing in shoes can be an expensive purchase so you will want to keep them in good condition so they can be worn time and time again. There's no reason why your shoes can't look as good as they did when you first bought them. Regular visits to a shoeshine throughout the year is advisable, but if you’re the frugal type and would rather polish your shoes yourself at home here are some important steps to follow.
Step one is to clean them. If we’re referring to leather shoes, it can be quite easy to clean off any light dust and dirt with a light horse hair brush. However, if the dirt is slightly more embedded in the leather you will need a shoe cleaner to give them a thorough clean. Take a light soft sponge (non-abrasive) with a little water and saddle soap, lather it up slightly over the surface of the shoe or boot. Leave to dry naturally without adding heat in order to preserve the leather’s quality.
If you’ve had the shoes or boots a while and you see the leather cracking you'll need to regularly condition them so they soften up. Generally speaking this can be done between each ten to fifteen wears. Using a soft cloth, take a small amount of shoes conditioner and buff this over the shoe until all excess is off - note that the leather should be left soft and not dry.
If your shoes don't require a proper clean, a light dusting and polish should do the trick. However, it is recommended to give your shoes a good clean and condition every six months or so to get them back to a fresh look. Polishing maybe the most fun you’ll have when cleaning your shoes. Assuming you’ve purchased the right color of polish for the colour of your shoes, take a light cloth or horse hair brush and rub in circular motions. Buff all over the shoes until you get the desired effect. It is recommended to use a wax based polish to give them a real overall shine, particularly for your dressier shoes.
For a really quick polish up when you're in a hurry, take advantage of your girlfriend’s wardrobe by using her old nylon tights. Hold them under your finger so it’s taut and just gently rub this over the shoe, this will help buff them up and give them a solid shine. Granted it doesn't have the same effect as a deep polish however it does the job in a hurry.
Taking care of suede is very different to leather because it is a more delicate material. Suede needs to be protecting rather than maintained. Using a suede protecting spray before you wear them will prolong their lifespan. If you're unlucky enough to stain them you need to get straight to work before the stain embeds further into the material. This can be done with either with a cleaning block designed for suede shoes or a brush which will remove marks without causing damage to the material. If they get wet dab them with a towel, and let them dry at room temperature.
Lastly, storing your shoes and boots in the correct way will help them last longer. If your leather shoes came in shoe bags (if you have spent a fair amount, they will do) make use of the bag and keep them out of sunlight to avoid discoloration. However, suede shoes need to be left out in open air to breathe (away from sunlight). It is also worth investing in some shoe trees to help keep the shape of your shoes especially if storing for long periods.
Written by Rakelle Maurici