I’ve got a weird attachment to shoes. I’ve thrown out roughly every object from my childhood (blanket included) with the exception of my red middle-school Chuck Taylors. They now look like they’ve gone through the paper shredder a few dozen times, but making old shoes look new again is easy, and knowing a few genius ways to restore old sneakers and shoes can help you hold onto your faves. When I buy a pair of boots or flats, you’d better believe I intend to wear them on a daily basis for at least two years. Creature of habit? You bet, but at least I know what I like.
A great pair of shoes doesn’t come along very often, and when you’ve found that beautiful combination of extreme comfort and amazing style, your heart aches when you have to witness your two best buddies in the trash can. Fortunately, whether you’re dealing with flats, sneakers, heels, sandals, hiking shoes, or even making old leather shoes look new, you’ve got options, and I don’t just mean the “go out and buy new ones” solution. There are ways to clean, patch, and reinforce your way to new-looking footwear, no matter what kind of shape they’re currently in. All it takes is the right tools and a little effort, and you can make your favorite shoes last longer and avoid the footwear graveyard.
1. Condition Leather With A Protective Formula
To get your leather looking like new again, there’s this Chamberlain’s leather milk. Its no-mess formula quickly and easily conditions leather while simultaneously protecting it from future damage, and it doesn’t have a chemical smell like other brands, either. It’s great on belts and bags, but reviewers especially love it on boots and shoes that’ve been through some rough times in the salt, water, and mud.
2. Fix Everything From Holes To Heels With Shoe Goo
Talk about your across-the-board footwear solution. Shoe Goo can be used to stop fraying, fix holes, rebuild worn soles, protect shoes from the elements, reattach broken heels, and adhere replacement pieces. It goes on clear, sticks to just about any surface, and dries into a waterproof and flexible rubber consistency that makes your shoe game that much better.
3. Rub Away Stains And Dirt On Any Kind Of Fabric
This well-rounded shoe revival kit is great for any kind of shoe — cloth, leather, vinyl, fabric, or cotton, so it’s great on everything from dress shoes to flats. The easy-to-use spray bottle also comes with a durable wooden brush that gets deep into fabric, pulling out stains and dirt. After cleaning just about every shoe in the house, one reviewer comments, “Now I completely understand why people have been talking about this product for years.”
4. Line The Interior Of Your Heels With Comfort
When you’re wearing heels, most of the weight is on the ball of your foot, so that interior area of your shoe takes a huge beating. These Step 1 toe beds reinforce the interior sole, while creating a comfortable gel cushion for your foot. They’re clear, contain individual toe cradles, can be trimmed, and have a peel-back adhesive that sticks to any pair.
5. Reinforce All Your Shoes With DIY Moleskin
Jaybird and Mais moleskin is a must-have for reinforcing any and all shoes. This adhesive-backed cotton cloth sticks anywhere you need a little bit of extra padding, like in hole-filled flats, ripped shoe lining, and deteriorating canvas. The adhesive is latex free, and the fabric itself is soft, thick, durable, and can be cut into any shape you need.
6. Nail Poking Through On Your Heels? Replace The Cap
When it comes to saving your heels (or protecting them before they even need saving), these heel caps are a great little trick. They’re made from flexible rubber that puts and end to annoying heel tapping on the pavement and are so simple to apply: slide them right over your heels and get on with the business of saving your shoes. They come in four sizes that range from x-small to large so they fit all heel widths and are available in three colors: brown, black, or clear.
7. Even Out The Heels Of Your Boots
I didn’t realize I walked crooked until I took a look at the underside of my two-year-old boots. This sole repair solution is designed to extend the life of your boots with a non-slip material that evens out the heel after some serious wear. This set of 10 plates comes with complementary nails, but don't let its DIY aspect intimidate you: most reviewers agree they are easy to pop in and you can even add a little bit of glue to the plate to ensure they stick on better. The one complaint is that, although they work well on most shoes and boots, they may not do the trick for cowboy boots.
8. Fix Any Support Issues That Come With Old Sneakers
If your favorite sneakers aren’t as supportive as they once were, check out these Superfeet premium insoles. They’re arched for utmost comfort, are made from a high-density foam that absorbs shock and cushions your foot, and have an anti-bacterial lining to keep things sanitary. People say they completely saved their feet, ankles, knees — you name it, these made it better.
9. Touch Up Fabric Shoes With A Laundry Marker
For touch-ups on fabric, this Sharpie Rub-A-Dub permanent laundry marker is more than your average Sharpie. It colors fabric without bleeding, feathering, or coming off in the wash, which means it’s great for canvas shoes that occasionally come into contact with water. One thrilled reviewer says, “I don't get excited about much, especially something like a marker, but I got to say, I am amazed by this.”
10. Keep Your Shoes Smelling As Fresh As They Look
Once you’ve got your shoes looking like new, you’ll want them smelling like it, too. These Purggo mini natural air fresheners use no chemicals or gels. Instead, they’re made from all-natural bamboo charcoal, which works 24/7 to absorb any excess odor or moisture. Put them in your shoes overnight (yes, even your gym shoes) to wake up to fresh-smelling footwear every single morning.
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