How to Make Shoes Last Longer

close-up of man's dress shoes

Shoes can be expensive, but with the right care, you can make them last for years. You will need to spend a few minutes a day to keep your shoes shiny and looking like new, but the process is very easy. And, it's better for your leather and suede shoes if you clean them regularly. Read on to learn how to help your shoes last for many years.


To create your shoe-care kit, you'll just need a few supplies that you likely have in your home. Just gather together:

  • Waterproofing spray or saddle soap
  • Shoe polish
  • A cloth for polishing
  • An old toothbrush or stiff bristle brush
  • Baking soda
  • Newspaper

You'll notice that all of the supplies—except for the polish—are inexpensive (and used) items that will cost you little or nothing to include in your kit.

Clean Those Shoes

Start with a good quality pair of shoes. Natural materials like leather and suede will last longer than manmade materials, so they're worth paying more for.

If you purchase a pair of shoes with leather soles, have a shoe repair shop add rubber soles over the top of them. This will protect the original soles from wear and can be repeated as the rubber wears down. Make sure you use waterproofing spray or saddle soap to protect your shoes from water damage. Then follow these simple steps:

  1. Untie your shoes each time you take them off to maintain their shape.
  2. Clean any dirt and debris off of your shoes with a toothbrush or stiff bristle brush, and buff out any scuff marks before putting them away. Most damage can be reversed if it's treated promptly.
  3. Polish your shoes regularly to keep the leather conditioned and protected.
  4. If you wear your shoes out in the rain, allow them to dry completely before wearing them again. Newspaper stuffed inside the shoes will help to hold their shape while they dry.
  5. Rotate your shoes to avoid wearing the same pair each day. This will give the insides time to air out.
  6. Sprinkle baking soda in your shoes nightly, or as needed, to remove lingering odors and moisture. Then, dump the baking soda out before you wear the shoes again.

When you're finished cleaning and protecting your shoes, store them neatly to avoid damage. Shoe racks, bags, boxes, and shoe trees can help to protect your shoes when you aren't wearing them. Have your shoes resoled if the soles wear out before the rest of the shoe. New taps can be also be added to dress shoes when the old taps wear out.

Tips and Hints

Rub your shoes with a cloth dipped in white vinegar to remove salt stains. And, if you want to save even more money, learn to make your own shoe polish to keep your shoe-care costs low. Homemade shoe polish works just as well as store-bought varieties, and it will cost you only pennies to make.