During wet and cold winter months, many of us encounter this timeless predicament: how do you keep your best boots and shoes from getting damaged? Sure, you can wear the beat-up sneakers or paint-spattered boots you’ve had for years. But, at some point you’re going to have to wear those dress shoes, suede shoes, or leather boots out during nasty weather. Therefore, a variety of steps, and a disciplined amount of attentiveness and maintenance, must be adopted if you want to keep your good shoes in top form throughout the winter season.
First, Protect Them From Water as Best You Can
Purchase a water-repellent spray, which can be applied to shoes, from a drugstore or your favorite shoe repair shop. This allows small amounts of water to bead up and roll off the surface of leather or suede. Be sure to follow the product instructions, which include working with shoes that have been cleaned of dirt and stains.
This treatment, however, does not actually make your shoes completely waterproof. If you step in a puddle and get your shoes soaking wet, you need to take other immediate actions, such as stuffing them with newspaper to draw out moisture. You should keep your shoes away from a heat source, and allow them to dry on their own in order to maintain their shape.
Purchase Shoe Trees
Arguably one of the most important parts of long-term shoe maintenance is inserting a shoe tree into each shoe whenever they are not being worn. Go with the unvarnished, cedar models, as they do a better job of drawing out moisture inside the shoe. The DXL Cedar Shoe Tree helps to preserve the shape of your shoes, thereby extending the life of your shoes.
Regularly Repair and Maintain
Leather dressing (a type of leather conditioner), which can be purchased at a shoe repair store or online, can also be used to help maintain the flexibility and durability of leather, and to keep it waterproof. This treatment should be used on finished leather (tanned and smooth) only. It also tends to darken leather, so it is best to reserve it for your darker colored shoes. For suede shoes, use a suede eraser to remove any scuffs or stains, and a suede brush to remove dirt and debris.
If you’re having trouble getting salt stains out of leather, try equal parts white vinegar and water on a soft cloth and lightly rub the stains away.
Use Good Judgment and Have a Back-Up Option
If the weather forecast calls for a torrential downpour, you may not want to wear your best shoes out that day. No matter how well you maintain your leather shoes, constant exposure to moisture and varying degrees of hot and cold air will cause them to suffer wear and tear. So, on these particularly bad weather days, be sure to have a cheaper pair of backup shoes, which can be sacrificed over the winter season.