6 Ways To Save Money by Extending the Life of Your Shoes

Closeup shot of an unrecognizable man tying his shoelaces while exercising outdoors.
Rowan Jordan / Getty Images

Your shoe collection is likely a very valuable assortment of footwear. Unfortunately, this collection doesn’t tend to last — and could be bleeding a lot more money than you realize.

According to the Footwear Distributers and Retailers of America (FDRA), Americans spent over $100 billion on footwear last year. This figure is $17 billion more than the previous record high in 2019. While shoe-collecting is a hobby for some, for most, there’s a practicality to footwear and also a price limit. The faster your favorite pair wears out, the more money you lose in the long run.

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GOBankingRates compiled six tried-and-true ways to keep that favorite pair intact for years to come.

Use a Waterproof Spray 

Using a protectant such as a waterproof spray or wax can help your shoes repel the effects of water and dirt that can quickly soil footwear. Using these products creates a barrier on the material that blocks the harsh effects of water damage and is one of the best ways to prevent premature wear and tear.

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You can find a can of waterproof spray from Amazon, Target and other retailers at a cost of about $5-$10.

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Travel With Shoe Bags

If you are a last-minute packer, squashed and scuffed-up shoes are likely to meet you every time you open your suitcase. You can easily prevent travel from straining your shoes by using shoe bags. 

“When traveling and packing your favorite shoes, protect them in your suitcase from being thrown around at the airport,” said Velicia Hill, founder and editor in chief at Ms. Heel Magazine, a magazine for shoe lovers. 

You can find cute and affordable shoe bags from sites such as Bag-all.com for under $20 that will help to prevent scratches and any shoe ornamentation from falling off, according to Hill.

Use Extra Heel Caps or Sole Protectors

If you are a heel lover, there are a few key tips you need to be aware of to keep your favorite pair of event shoes at their best for as long as possible. 

“For your heels, pull out those extra caps that are always in the box when you first purchase,” Hill said. “These are great to have on hand that you can easily pop back in if a cap is lost or damaged.”

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In addition to holding on to extra heel caps, if you own a pair of the iconic red-bottomed Louboutins, you can also purchase a clear sole protector in order to never lose the famed red sole. 

Don’t Put Your Shoes in the Washer

While we have likely all seen our parents put our soiled shoes in the washer, sometimes parents do not in fact know best. Washing shoes in the machine causes damage over time, often leading to thinning fabric and quicker wear.

To prevent washer damage, it’s best to wash shoes by hand using a mild detergent and a brush before rinsing and allowing them to dry. While it is not advisable, if you do opt to put your shoes in the washer, it’s ideal to wash them on a slow or no-spin setting and place them in a mesh bag with the laces removed. 

Keep the Shoebox

A simple but highly effective tip for keeping your shoes in great condition for longer is by storing them in their original box. This will help not only protect your shoes from getting crushed or misshapen, but it will also protect them from dust, sunlight and temperature extremes. For shoes made of fine leather or cork, keeping the box will also help preserve these organic materials.

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Regularly Clean and Maintain To Avoid Serious Wear and Tear 

You can prevent untimely shoe wear-out by regularly cleaning and maintaining your shoes. If you are looking to care for a casual shoe such as a walking shoe, that means regularly cleaning them gently with a brush and avoiding storing these shoes in direct sunlight. It’s best to routinely give these shoes a good polish and shine to keep them looking their best. 

When caring for heels and dress shoes, it’s advisable to condition and polish these shoes consistently and keep them in shoe bags or boxes to help them keep their shape. When cleaning these shoes, you can use a soft cloth to polish off any dust or dirt. While it might be efficient to drive in the heels you are planning to wear to work, heel longevity says otherwise. It’s best to avoid driving in heels as the pressure of the pedals can wear them out and eventually cause them to break.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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