Tips on How to Save Shoes From Water Damage

Rain doesn't mean the end of your footwear

At some point your shoes will suffer from water damage. You may get caught in a downpour or a toddler may throw your favorite shoes into a swimming pool. The important thing is to know how to save your shoes from water damage. Don't toss them!

Take these easy steps, and you'll have a great shot at making sure your favorite pair of boots or loafers live to walk another day.

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Cleaning the Insoles of Shoes Damaged by Water

Runner stepping in puddle
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If you find yourself in torrential rain and your shoes have water damage, the first thing you want to do is remove the insoles (assuming your shoes have removable insoles). If you think they can take a spin in the washing machine, then give it a shot, but if they're just wet, hang dry them in the laundry room.

Never put them in the dryer though. You don't want any direct heat on any part of the shoes. This could cause them to shrink or make them otherwise unwearable.

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Removing Dirt and Mud From Water-Damaged Shoes

When your shoes get wet, it's not just water damage you have to worry about. After you get your footwear out of the rain (or another culprit), the next thing you need to do is to remove any dirt or mud. Take a stiff brush and clean everything off of them.

If it's mud, you might have to dab and then wipe them down with a rag first, and then really use the brush to get inside of the nooks and crannies. Especially where the leather meets the sole. That is a prime area that dirt and residue will gather.

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Dry Soaked Shoes with a Newspaper

Once you get your shoes somewhat free of any dirt or grime, find a newspaper. Wad up smaller pieces and then stuff your shoes full. The newspaper will draw out any moisture in your shoes and attempt to save them. Again, you don't want direct heat on any part of the shoe, so don't put them over a heater or in the dryer. It will dry out the leather and lead to cracking and ruin the shoe.

Exercise a little patience and let your shoes dry on their own -- they'll be good as new in no time. If you have sneakers that are really dirty and nothing else works, I've been known to throw them in the washing machine for a spin. I figure a good pair of running shoes has one good wash in them.

If you have nice leather or suede shoes, make sure you are protecting them with a suede or leather spray before going out into any harsh weather. That will make cleaning and getting them back to normal a snap.

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Preparing for the Weather

When you know the weather will not be on your side, make sure to wear appropriate footwear. Some retailers offer stylish shoes, such as loafers, that are water-resistant. High-end rain boots have become increasingly stylish over the years. They are available in different colors, including black or navy to allow them to easily blend in with business wear.