Best Ways to Care for Leather Shoes, Sneakers, Canvas Shoes, and Heels

Legendary Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo has his eight “golden rules” for shoe care. It’s great advice, but here are some more specific tips for the different types of shoes.

 

Sneakers

Even if you’re not a Sneakerhead, you can hang on to your favourite sneakers a little longer if you take care of them properly.

Sneakers can often smell once you’ve worn them for a full day. Sometimes you can just air them out, but sometimes you need something stronger. You can put the shoes in an enclosed box with baking soda, or you can stuff some dryer sheets into your shoes overnight, so your shoes will come out smelling like fresh laundry instead of fresh sweat.

Those pristine white laces usually don’t stay white for long, and same goes for laces of other colours. They’re delicate, but you can wash them in a washing machine (use the normal wash in cold water) inside a pillowcase or a laundry bag.

You may not polish sneakers like leather shoes (except for leather sneakers, of course) but you still need to brush them. You can wet the outsoles with a dilute dish solution then scrub them with a brush. Standard bristles work in most cases, but keep hog bristle scrub brushes for tougher messes.

 

Leather shoes

If you own a good pair of leather shoes, you can probably tell from the cost that they’re meant to last and that you need to take good care of them. Ferragamo’s tips about using shoe trees and shoe horns help, but one important addition is that you need to waterproof, condition, and polish your leather shoes. Once your shoes are clean, apply a beeswax-based paste, which will protect your shoes for about six months. The condition (usually a cream) is what you do to supplement the leather, because it’s still skin. How often you do this depends on the climate and how often you wear your shoes. Cool and dry conditions, and not wearing them everyday (Ferragamo recommends letting shoes rest for a day) will keep your shoes conditioned for longer.