6 Ways to Make Your Old Shoes Look Like New

Your shoes, from sneakers to brogues, endure dirt and wear and tear — more so than any other item in your closet. Plus, they can make or break an outfit more than any other item you own. That said, your shoes require extra love and care for what they give you. Repay them by taking extra good care of them. Here is the proper way to care for every type of shoe. Keep in mind — a good quality shoe is worth the investment and added care.

1. Polish leather shoes

Black shoes of the groom

Black leather shoes | iStock.com/Vadven

When you get a new pair of leather shoes, make sure they look the best they possibly can by polishing them. Michael Petry, creative director at the footwear brand The Frye Company, known for its leather footwear, suggests to Men’s Health to polish your leather shoes each time you put them on so they always look the best they can. If this is unrealistic for you, at least give them a good rub before you wear them out in bad weather.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to polish your babies.

2. Protect and brush suede shoes

man wearing moccasins with bare feet

Suede shoes | iStock.com

Caring for suede is very different from how you care for leather. Suede shoes are in a category of their own since you can’t polish away scuff marks. Petry says if you’re investing in suede footwear then they should be treated with a protective suede spray to protect your kicks from being damaged by any of the elements, be it from water, salt, or mud. Before you start spraying, he recommends testing the spray before using it because it can change the color of your shoes. Next, commit to a good suede eraser and brush and maintenance. Use the eraser first to target stains, and then follow with the suede brush to restore the nap, or fuzz of the leather to bring the material back to its original state, adds Petry.

3. Whiten your shoes

shoes on a rack

Shoes in a row | iStock.com

If you’ve stained or scoffed your kicks, Esquire recommends this whitening method:

Leather sneaker

If your leather sneakers are scuffed, try swabbing them with nail polish remover and then wipe clean. If you find that the sneaker starts to yellow or darken, simply spray the shoe with a 50/50 mixture of water and lemon juice. Leave them to sit in the sun for a day.

Canvas sneaker

The water and lemon juice mixture works on canvas as well, however, if you’re tackling a more serious stain, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a touch of water and rub the sticky paste where the stains are. You can also try Kiwi Sport Shoe Whitener.  

4. Cleaning canvas shoes

men wearing canvas shoes

Men wearing canvas shoes | iStock.com

Canvas shoes may be the easiest to clean. The best way to clean them is by hand, not in the washing machine, by using a simple mixture of shampoo and water, says Kevin Tuohy, co-founder of A Shine & Co shoe repair shop in New York City, to Men’s Health.

5. Care for wet shoes

men's footwear

Men’s footwear | iStock.com

It’s happened to all of us more times than we can count: You got caught in the rain wearing your favorite pair of shoes. When this happens, you need to act as quickly as you can. Grab a newspaper, crumple up some of the pages and begin stuffing your shoes with the paper, and allow them to dry slowly. Do not take a blow dryer to them and keep them away from any direct heat. Here’s the trick: Just before they dry, insert a cedar shoe tree into each shoe to make sure they dry out evenly and maintain their shape, says Esquire.

6. Add a layer to your rubber soles

man wearing his nicest shoes

Man wearing his nicest shoes | iStock.com

This is a fantastic habit to get into to prolong the life of dressy kicks or boots. Before you wear them, take them to your local shoemaker and ask them to place a rubber sole under your shoe. Not only will the sole protect the leather soles from damage, but they’ll give you additional traction, says Tuohy. This method is cost-effective, and for the $20 investment, you’ll prolong the life of them instead of having to replace the pair altogether.