10 Clever Ways You Can Make Your Shoes Last Longer

There are millions of shoes out there varying in material, style, and heel height. But finding a timeless, single pair that is comfortable, looks stylish, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg is not easy. Like any other article of clothing or accessory, everything has a lifespan; however, there are some things you can do to extend the amount of time you can wear your favorite shoes. Whether you prefer boots, heels, or flats, here are 10 hacks for giving your shoes a second life.

1. Invest in a shoe tree

shoes with shoe stretcher

A shoe tree can really make your kicks last longer. | iStock.com/ KenTannenbaum

It’s only natural to toss your shoes underneath your bed or have them scattered around your apartment. But stacking them on top of each other makes them lose their shape. In that vein, it may be in your best interest to pick up a couple shoe trees. Not only will they preserve a shoe’s natural shape, but they’ll keep that pungent stench at bay. 

“Cedar shoe trees remove excess moisture produced by your feet and are therefore critical in maintaining and extending the life of leather shoes,” Paul Evans co-founder Evan Fript told Business Insider. “Any investment made in a high-quality pair of leather shoes should be accompanied by the purchase of a cedar show tree.” Though they’re traditionally used for men’s dress shoes, we don’t see the harm in a woman picking up a couple for her flats and loafers.

2. Coat your suede shoes in repellent

purple velvet shoes

Suede shoes need special attention. | iStock.com/kadirdemir

It doesn’t take a fashion expert to know that water and suede don’t mix. Even the smallest raindrop or snowfall could leave lasting marks on your suede shoes, which will inevitably make them unwearable. Even if you spray your shoes with a moisture repellent, we strongly discourage you from wearing suede kicks in inclement weather. However, spritzing them with repellent once or twice a season will give you some peace of mind in the off chance the forecast takes a turn for the worse.

3. Use those cloth shoe bags

Red high heel shoes

Using these bags will keep them looking fresh out of the box. | iStock.com/AlexLMX

Those duster bags you find inside your shoe box may seem frivolous, but they actually serve a purpose. Unless you have endless space in your closet, you probably discard your shoe boxes as soon as you get home. So instead of letting them collect dust — and, even worse, scuffs — as they sit in your closet, toss them in those duster bags. As an added bonus, utilizing these complimentary bags can prove to be a time-efficient and eye-catching way to find your shoes in the depths of your closet. After all, does anyone really have the time to pillage through their entire wardrobe for a pair’s mate?

4. Keep smelly shoes at bay 

Woman's legs in jeans rolled up wearing white shoes

Slippers tend to smell a little off since you wear them without socks, so take care of it! | iStock.com/eans

Deny it all you want, but you probably have a pair of smelly shoes in your closet. It’s OK, we’re human. Are you tempted to give your stinky kicks the boot? Not so fast. Believe it or not, there may be a way to repair them.

According to Business Insider, Mini Moso Air Purifying Bags are packed with active charcoal that will absorb moisture (read: sweat), odor, and unwanted bacteria. Simply slip one bag in each shoe and let the magic happen. Keep in mind that while these bags may very well be the miracle product you’ve been searching for, we can’t promise they’ll cure any stench. If you give these bags a try and your shoes still reek, we encourage you throw them out, stat.

5. Take preventive measures 

shot of shopping girl holding a red high heel shoe

A cobbler can do quite a lot for your old shoes. | iStock.com/vtmila

When you find a pair of shoes you love, we suggest you hold onto them for as long as you can. Sometimes, you don’t know how much you adore a pair of shoes until it’s too late. But if you find yourself head over heels (get it?) in love with a pair before they’re past their prime, do yourself a favor and head to a cobbler, immediately.

Fashion blogger Yael Steren notes adding a thin rubber half sole to your treasured pair will significantly extend their shelf life, plus act as a barrier against slippery surfaces. If you ask us, it’s a win-win investment.

6. Get heel caps … 

Businesswoman taking off high heels shoes after work at home

Don’t let them wear all the way down to the rod. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Finding a pair of heels that are actually comfortable is no easy feat. So when you find a pair you like and can wear for several hours straight, they’ll quickly become a mainstay in your closet. But that’s not always a good thing. Over time, you’ll notice the heel will whittle down to being a steel rod. Once your shoes go from making a “click-clack” sound with each step to a harsh thud, take them to the cobbler to get a rubber cap attached to the heels.

7. … and toe taps

Man working with leather using crafting DIY tools

You’ll have to invest a little bit to protect the toe area, but it’ll be worth it. | iStock.com/haveseen

While you’re at it, ask for some toe taps. Anyone who places more emphasis on their toes with each step will notice the area around the balls of their feet will deplete overtime. According to the Hanger Project, adding some toe taps to your shoes will squash any current damage from spreading and keep your shoes intact for longer.

8. Create a shoe rotation

young women with perfect legs keeping their legs crossed at knee while sitting on sofa at the shoe store

You should have at least a handful of shoes to keep in rotation. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but wearing those same black flats day after day will wear them down. It’s not necessarily brain science to alternate your shoes each day, but it’s hard to do — especially when you find a pair you really love. But switching up your shoes will give them a longer life, and it’ll force you to get creative with your sartorial choices.

9. Stretch ’em out

Woman keeps two stylish pumps in the shopping mall

Yes, you can stretch your shoes. | iStock.com/agencyby

Depending on how much walking you do — and the weather outside — your shoes will fit differently each day. But if you notice your kicks are consistently too big or too small, you might think it’s time to sell them at a second-hand store. But if you ask us, hope is not lost. GQ Australia reports that while you want to find shoes that are the perfect fit, you can visit a specialist to get your pairs stretched.

Each pair might vary in flexibility — your penny loafers, for example, will be easier to stretch than calf-high boots — but it’s worth going to a cobbler if you really love your shoes. Just make sure you enlist a professional to complete this task. Stretching your shoes sounds easy, but it can cause more harm than good. As for shoes that are too big? Try inserting a padded insole.

10. Condition your shoes

Woman in high heel shoes in city by sunrise

Take the time to care for your leather kicks. | iStock.com/grinvalds

Leather isn’t some all-powerful fabric that can withstand even the most wear and tear. When you think about it, it’s a species’ skin. And like our own skin, it cracks and weakens whenever its exposed to cold, dry climates. If you want to extend the life of your favorite leather shoes, you might want to consider applying some leather conditioner once a month. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

According to Yael Steren, lathering your shoes in some special cream will keep your pair crack-free. But where do you pick up a leather conditioner? Leather Honey’s conditioner has nearly 4,000 exceptional reviews on Amazon as well as a 4.4/5 rating on the site. Seems like a good place to start.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @Kmulvs and Instagram @Kmulvs