How Do I Make My Shoes Look Brand New

Your shoes can make and break your look. But with all the busyness of the day, walking and commuting, dust and muddy drops, it’s quite challenging to maintain their shine. How do you keep shoes looking new? Are you particular about preserving their life and prettiness?

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One major reason why shoes get so worn-looking even with just months of use is the lack of care. Of course, washing is one way to preserve them but not all pieces can stand with water and soap. It’s strange that the nicer the style of a shoe, the more delicate it is to clean.

With a few tips, not only you can maintain their fresh appearance but you can actually stretch out their usage life and even provide you with choices for rotation. What’s more, is you become a patron for reducing landfills.

Imagine yourself arriving home with your suede sandals dripping wet due to heavy rain. You probably will assume that suede will not be looking great anymore. But if you know that suede retains its appearance, you would be happy.

Similarly, shoes that look fresh and vibrant can live with you for quite a long time giving you confidence, pride, and joy.


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How Do You Keep Shoes Looking New At All Times

1) It starts with the way you clean shoes


person wearing pair of brown leather dress shoesLeather soles should be cleaned with a lot of care.

All you need is a damp cloth to remove daily dirt and prevent them from sticking onto the toe box, welt, vamp, and the other outer parts. Rubbing off dried dirt often stains and damages surface material.

Use a slightly damp cloth for cleaning, or spray a light cleaning mist on the shoe and wipe it off with a dry cloth. The best thing is to apply a shoe conditioner, leave for a few minutes, and massage in circular motions.

Let the friction when using a horsehair brush heat up the conditioner’s ingredients to bring out a nice shine. Buffing will help restore shoes back to their original luster. 

Never toss leather shoes in the washer. Their glued linings may not be good when soaked and spun.


brown and black nike shoesSuede is delicate and requires a soft, clean towel when rubbing the surface. Since the material has a thin nature with a delicate drape, do the rubbing in the direction of the grain. This helps preserve the exact pattern of suede and keep the look of your shoe’s soft smooth surface.

Suede loves dry cleaning as much as possible. The good news is there’s a special suede brush that helps with stains. You can use a suede shampoo or a mix of soap and water for cleaning more soiled areas.

Avoid soaking them in water to prevent dulling out suede’s extraordinary property. For stubborn scuffs, an eraser or nail file can help buff them out. Be wary of oil marks as they are suede’s mortal enemy. Sprinkle the oiled part with powder to absorb the oil first before buffing.

Gently scrubbing with a suede brush helps remove surface dirt and prevent it from growing on your shoe. It also gets rid of deep-seated dust and fine particles. Doing this regularly will keep revitalizing the footwear and give you vibrant-looking pair of suede.

Fabric & Canvas

two unpaired black and white low-top shoesWhile fabric and canvas shoes can be washed in the washer using a regular detergent, I still recommend hand washing them using soap and a brush. Getting soaked and spun will have an effect on its overall appearance in the long run.

The secret here is a good rinse. Soak entire shoes in a pool of water for a thorough and deep rinse. Dried traces of soap can end up browning some parts of the footwear and would look unbecoming.

For white ones, adding bleach to the wash water can remove stains and brighten them up. For colored canvas, choose bleach for colored fabrics. Use a brush and soapy water to remove stains.

Right after washing, simply airdry but away from direct sunlight. Fabric can be brittle under long sun exposure. Protect the colored ones from fading by drying indoors.

Placing canvas shoes in a hot clothes dryer may also melt the glue that seals joints and cause the footwear to fall apart. Mild laundry soap and normal air drying are enough to maintain the fabric’s suppleness, color, and shape.

Sports Rubber shoes

black low-top sneakersThese are the easiest shoes to care for but also the easiest to get dirty being the action stars of your shoe collection. No fuss, you can anytime toss them in the washing machine with a good amount of laundry detergent. Wash the lace separately.

For delicate-looking footwear, put them in a mesh bag before putting them in the washer. Air dry under a good spot away from direct heat or sunlight.

If you wish to dry clean, you need to remove the dirt using soapy water and a toothbrush. Gently scrub the mesh and rubber parts including the vamp. Concentrate on the welt section as this is where daily dirt and stain reside. Wipe off soap suds with a sponge or wet cloth.

For white shoes with stains, you can apply bleach diluted in water and use the solution to gently get rid of spots. Don’t forget to clean the tongue area and the portion around the string holes.

Do dry clean regularly, especially during the wet season but spare from too much spinning them on the washer. Rubber shoes simply need daily cleansing using a wet cloth to look fresh and clean.

Take a look! 20 Podiatrist Recommended Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

Rope & Cork

Rope and cork styles are tricky because like suede, they like dry and gentle cleaning using soapy water.

For stubborn stains, simply wipe it down with a wet cloth and then leave it to air dry. To preserve texture and rope details from fraying, lightly brush in one direction then let dry in natural air.

Once when my rope-styled wedge soaked in rainwater while going home, I thought it was damaged. But thankfully, I discovered that rinsing them in a pool of water and laundry detergent did the trick without altering their original look.

Cork is a unique material and it is easy to clean. Mix warm water, detergent, and vinegar then  dip a cleaning cloth into the solution. If your cork shoes are not that dirty, soapy water without vinegar is enough to make them bright and beautiful.

You can submerge them in water and soap but do this only when the shoes are super dirty. Air dry right away but indoors. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or in closed spaces.

2) You need a shoe wardrobe

Using a single pair of shoes in a straight week deprives footwear of the time to dry. Note that even footwear also needs to rest to retain shape and from being too worn out.

Shoes absorb sweat from the feet. If they’re not allowed to dry, that amount of soppiness will soak the affected fiber materials and start to deform. If you notice why your shoes tend to alter in shape after a month’s use, now you know why.

The trick is to change shoes once in a while. You can get separate footwear for work and commuting to and from work, shopping, and sports activities. I suggest you get at least a pair of shoes for walking or running that you can interchange in a week. Except maybe for stilettos as you don’t use them often.

You don’t have to buy all of the shoes in a month. The logic is to think of a way to get footwear that you can use in rotation. Did you know that changing footwear once or twice a week can save your foot from pain? That is true, alternating your shoes allows both feet and footwear to go flexible. 

3) It has something to do with comfort

How is comfort related to the way shoes retain their looks?

You know that one cause of foot complaints comes from wearing the wrong type of shoes. From painful toes caused by shoes that are too short or narrow, to inflammation of the balls of the feet, to wounds and sores from constantly rubbing up against the heel of footwear.

Because of such inconvenience, you tend to drag or position your feet in a way that also alters the shape of footwear by force. It’s either you walk limping or have to step on the shoe’s counter lining to prevent more damage around the heel. All these results in contorting the shape of your valued shoes.

So to avoid foot pain, understand the needs of your foot and look for shoes that fit well. One that makes both your feet relax on the first fit is a good choice. If your high heels are giving you the same concerns, we highly recommend that you consider cushioned high heel insoles that you can simply stick into your shoes. 

4) Store your shoes properly

With lots of different types of shoes, storing them can be a real challenge. Your black shoes need utmost care, you don’t want sports shoes to get flat or the clunky ones to look distorted. Should you parade them on a rack, put them inside their boxes, or hang them? How?

Don’t heap everything in one box.

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The secret is to store them according to their shape and length. Leather and black working shoes, for example, should be stored with their vamps, heel counter, and backstay standing. Boots definitely will flop over when left standing so the best thing is to gently roll them using newspapers or anything that can maintain their shape.

  • Shoes can live in their boxes and be stored in an airy or well-ventilated spot. There are see-through bins you can buy offering clear slots to help you find the right shoe in one look. I suggest shoe bins that are stackable, wide, and transparent allowing you to store all of your shoes neatly.
  • Control the urge of throwing them inside the box right after use. Other than it can harden dirt and other residues, the moisture from sweat and other wet residues is an opportunity for bacteria to build and produce a stinky smell. This is also the beginning of the shoe material quickly degrading.  
  • Separate different shoe materials. Leather and suede, for example, should not be stored in one plastic bag to avoid discoloring episodes. Schedule a cleaning day where you can dust the shoe boxes one by one. Don’t forget to shake each shoe if it has been a month or more kept inside their boxes.
  • Keep the shoes nicely arranged in a shoe rack. There is nothing like looking at your footwear collection that is neatly arranged in pairs. However, see to it they don’t catch dust and dirt all the time. This will cause them to brown and look lackluster.

I discovered an effective system to let them breathe by creating small windows on the sides, or the top portion of their boxes. I like looking at them safe in the boxes with air circulating around. Plus, I get to peep into which shoes to wear for the day quickly and easily.

If you’re a leather shoe fanatic, watch this video for the 7 MUST DO’S when it comes to new shoes.


In Essence

Again, the shoes you are wearing can make and break your overall appearance. Think quality care from the moment you put on your footwear to how you wear them, carry them, clean them and store them.

Just as you care for your outfit, the desire to maintain the appearance of your shoes is something you’ll want to become a good habit. Imagine, the things you need are available at hand – water, detergent, brush, polish, and cloth. It depends on you now how far you can extend yourself or how much amount of time you are willing to give for footwear care.

What about you? How do you keep shoes looking new at all times? Share your tips in the comments. Let’s share expertise.