The cheapskate’s guide to shoe care | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Shoe love has its downside, and we don’t just mean emptying one’s wallet or maxing out a credit card to buy a dazzling pair.

There’s care and maintenance as well—rarely, if at all, given a budget or spared a thought, but essential to any shoe lover attached to his or her collection.

Even we have known the pain of letting go, because there’s no saving leatherette that’s cracked and crumbled from the dry spell of the summer months. Then in the wet season, there’s mold and mildew to look out for especially in the deepest, darkest corners of the insoles.

So for the shoe obsessed on a modest budget (pardon the exclusion of those who throw big bucks on designer stuff—they can afford the upkeep), check out these easy, pocket-friendly ideas and tips to extend the life of your beloved soles.


What you’ll need: Clear/colorless plastic shoeboxes, silica gel packets, storage area that isn’t damp or that gets enough ventilation

Clear/colorless plastic shoeboxes keep shoes dust-free but not forgotten. As with clothes, we generally reach for what we see atop the pile, so keep shoes visible—and therefore accessible—even when boxed and stacked.

Wholesale plastic boxes are cheaper online. When hitting the mall sales, canvass rates at hardware and homeware stores. One usually sells the boxes cheaper than the other.

Don’t store shoes in damp areas. Avoid placing against walls with the beginnings of mold spores as well as walls that endure the most amount of heat from outdoors.

Silica gel, or those mini packets printed with “Do not eat,” sucks in moisture so don’t throw them away.

Footwear that comes in a box usually has silica gel. If there’s none, ask some from the salesclerk.

Quick fix and first-aid

What you’ll need: Permanent marker, clear nail polish, flannel or any soft cloth, paper towels, toothbrush or small laundry brush with soft bristles, gentle liquid laundry soap or shampoo, mild hand/body lotion, Vaseline, clean white eraser

Problem: Scrapes, small tears, chafing

For dark neutrals and metallic leatherette, fill in the gap, scratch or chafe marks with a permanent marker in a color similar to the shoe. Lightly apply clear nail polish to set and seal the area.

Clear nail polish also makes a near-flawless sealant for patents, preventing accidental marks from being stretched/widened.

Problem: Spilled or soaked with water

Do not use hair or hand dryer, which can cause darker watermarks and make the shoe stiff.

For suedette, sports footwear, fabric shoes with leatherette insoles, use flannel (“pranela”) or any soft cloth (make sure it doesn’t bleed color) to pat off the water. Squeeze as much water by pinching the sides of the shoe with the cloth and, for the toe and heel areas, use your knuckles to apply counter-pressure on the outerside area being patted.

Stuff with paper towels to further remove water from the lining and insoles. Remove soaked paper towels. Air-dry or leave shoes outdoors when there’s sunshine, but not directly under the sun.

Work fast with suedette, a sensitive material.

Canvas is washable. However, the glue on espadrille and generic varieties may dissolve when the entire shoe is soaked. Wash instead only the canvas part using soft-bristle toothbrush, warm water and gentle liquid laundry soap.

Problem: Mold and mildew

Use dry flannel or any soft cloth to wipe off moldy patches on the shoe—twice, and do it outdoors or on a sink. You wouldn’t want to dust off molds that’ll only grow back in the nooks and crannies of your home.

Use soft-bristle toothbrush to remove thicker greenish molds. Adjust brushing strokes according to the shoe material.

Leatherettes can be wiped with a damp cloth after the dry-wipe. Air-dry. If molds reappear, repeat dry-wiping.

Moisturize later on with Vaseline or mild hand/body lotion. Test a small amount of product on part of the shoe closest—and thus less visible—to the heel. Leave overnight. If there’s no discoloration, apply the product to the leatherette parts of the shoe. Wipe off the product after a minute. Air-dry.

Problem: Dry and wet dirt, stains, smudging

For leatherette and suede in light colors, dry dirt can be erased with—ta-da!—an eraser.

For patent and rubber-like surfaces, remove dirt using soft cloth with Vaseline or mild hand/body lotion.

Remove wet stains on fabric shoes (except suede and nubuck) by first patting with a soft cloth. Gently wash stained area using warm water, soft-bristle toothbrush, mild liquid detergent. Brush strokes should follow the grain of the fabric.


What you’ll need: Flannel or any soft cloth, white tissue paper (the type used as gift wrap/stuffing), baking soda, shoe shine product

Not keen on wearing “invisible” socks, foot covers? Then wipe clean leatherette insoles of shoes after each use.

Give shoes time to breathe. Air-dry before storage, especially when worn for more than two  consecutive days.

Save the white tissue paper from gifts or packages. It’s good (free) shoe stuffing that helps wick off moisture.

Remove odor by sprinkling baking soda inside shoes. Leave awhile and then dust off. Be warned: Too much contact with baking soda can dry out shoes.

Shine your own leather shoes.

Got shoes with thin wooden soles? Extend their wear by having rubber soles attached to the front half and heel areas. The type of rubber will determine the durability as well as the amount you spend at the shoe-repair shop.

Shoes are meant to be worn, so wear them.

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