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Shoe Care - Show your shoes some respect! ...

A tradesman, who buys decent quality tools and looks after them, will get good service from those tools, provided that they are used for the purpose for which they were designed. The same applies to anything and not least shoes! Shoes need to be cleaned on a regular basis and repaired as necessary, if not they will fail sooner than they would naturally. Shoe care extends beyond merely cleaning a pair of shoes, they do need repaired due to 'normal wear and tear' an often a contentious term (as what is 'normal') which has got many a customer hot under the collar! Shoes are subjected to some horrendous treatment e.g. rain, snow, sun, sweat, pavements, rough terrain, chemicals, tar, oils, abrasion, to name but a few and we all expect our footwear to simply 'cope'. There are a few things that we can do to prolong the life of our shoes as well as make them look nice. As covered in our Materials page, certain materials are more prone to particular 'wear' problems than others, so bearing that in mind we have to protect some uppers from marking and going hard whilst others need just a wipe!

Keeping in shape!
Shoes often go out of shape not just because our foot shape, but also if we carry excess weight or our 'gait' (the way we walk) may wear down the heel or sole on one side, causing uneven stretching of the upper. It is not always the shoe's fault that failure occurs! Shoe trees, or simply packing the toes of our shoes with paper helps the shoe to retain its shape but we also need to repair the soles and heels to counteract uneven wear. Fashion at present is such that the young are not fastening their laces properly thus causing their shoes to go out of shape - again no fault of the shoe! (It also causes hammer toes and accidents!) Laces will need replaced every now and again, but if it is very regular then check that rough metal eyelets are not shredding the lace.
Remedial Repairs ...

It is normal to repair a sole or heel after they have worn down about 4-5mm. This is done using as near the original sole material as possible, as quite often the original sole unit is exactly that (a unit) and cannot be removed as it forms part of the structure of the shoe. Other constructions 'expect' the shoe to be repaired e.g. welted gent's shoes or soles/heels that are built up in layers and these layers should be replaced before the layer is completely worn through. Any self-respecting shoe repairer will tell you whether a shoe is able to be and/or is worth being repaired. Most decent shoe shops, like our own business, will also offer a repair service either done locally or in some cases, a reconditioning service by the manufacturer of the shoe itself.

What do I do if my shoes get absolutely soaked?...

Remove any removable insoles, wash off any mud with a soft brush and pack the toes of the shoes with shoe trees or a polythene bag stuffed loosely with paper and place them in a warm room to dry out slowly (about 48 hours should do). Do not place them on a hot pipe, boiler or radiator/heater as this causes leather to go hard and crack, especially leather soles, which then shears any stitching or alternative sole fixing. Once dry, feed the leather with an appropriate application to 'feed' some oils and perhaps colour back into the leather, thus keeping the leather flexible and supple.

Don't wear the same pair of shoes all day every day! ...
Due to the high level of perspiration from your feet during the course of a day, the shoe components can become saturated with salty sweat causing salt stains and hardening of the leather. This excess moisture can also cause loss of colour from the uppers or the linings of a shoe onto feet/socks etc. due to vegetable leather tanning processes (becoming more and more a legal/ecological requirement) being less colour fast than chemical tanning. The best way to solve this problem is to alternate between at least two pairs of shoes allowing each pair a day to dry out between being worn.
Salt Stains ...

These usually manifest themselves as thin white wavy lines on the upper, usually around the sole edge of your shoe. They can be caused by salt water, salt from the road treatments in winter or the sweat from your own feet. Untreated these cause the leather to go hard, crack and stitching to 'rot'. Treatment for leather requires you to wash out the salt with 'saddle soap' of which there are two types, paste form and aerosol. If the staining is bad then it may be necessary to wash the shoes several times allowing the shoe to dry out as mentioned above between applications. Treatment for Suede, Nubuck and Canvas would involve washing the stains out with a 'suede and fabric' shampoo and allow to dry. Fluff up the 'nap' of the suede/nubuck with a suede brush when dry. Once the upper is clean apply a suitable application to feed and restore colour if necessary to the upper. If necessary apply a protector spray to stop further external staining on leather, suede or nubuck, remember this will impede the ability of the upper to breathe.

Normal Cleaning and caring for your shoes ...
Always remove any surface dirt with a slightly damp cloth before you polish your shoes. If your shoes get really muddy, gently scrub with a soft brush and water and allow them to dry naturally. Never try to apply polish on wet shoes, it won't stick to or impregnate the leather and certainly wont polish up! Always let your shoes dry naturally, don't put them on a radiator or other forms of direct heat. Always use an appropriate cleaner/polish for the upper material of your shoe.
Brush up on Polish!

1. Polishes cannot clean off dirt. You must wash the dirt off and make sure the leather is dry before applying the polish.

2. The heavier the upper material the more heavy the polish. Hard wax polishes and renovating polishes are fine for hard 'polished' leathers and kids shoes, but not for fine grade soft leathers where an appropriate cream should be used.

3. Always allow the polish to dry between application and buffing up.

4. Use a different brush or cloth per colour for putting on the polish otherwise you will change the colour of your shoes! The same applies for the brush or cloth for buffing up.

5. Oily leather and nubuck need an oily polish or dressing to retain their greasy feel.

6. When applying the dressing, use a circular motion and cover a complete panel of the shoe. Doing a localised area will result in an uneven spread of colour and the shoe looking blotchy.

7. It is all very well thinking a neutral polish does everything, but remember that neutral does not replace colour!

8. Navy and Burgundy coloured shoes often go 'blue' or 'pinkish-wine' if continually polished with a navy or wine cream. If this happens try using a light coating of black cream to bring back the 'richness' of their original colour, but only now and again.

9. Polishes in tubes seem to have a better 'shelf life' than tins i.e. they don't dry out so quickly.

10. Protector sprays are not polish, but polish may have protector in it. Protector sprays are usually 'waterproofing sprays' and do exactly that, protect the uppers from getting marked by the wet, salt and other sources. They do however, impair the breatheability of the upper.

11. Nubuck and suede have the equivalent to polish in nubuck renovator, which is in effect a weak dye with nourishing additives. The only problem is that there are a limited number of colours available and a huge number of fun colours used for making shoes! Answer? - use a nubuck block to remove marks and a neutral renovator!



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