Sunday, 25 March 2007


Warm weather and training shoes can be a lethal combination. This week at clean and green we have been delving into the sometimes-hazardous area of good shoe keeping. There are different shoes for different types of weather, sandals for summer and boots for winter for example and they all need looking after. I must confess that I have one pair of boots that I tend to wear all year come rain or shine. There’s something very comforting wearing steel toecap boots with metal in the soles and rubber that could withstand a chemical attack, (they do get a bit hot at this time of the year though).

Here are a few tips for keeping your shoes in good condition.

Smelly shoes. Training shoes can be one of the most offensive types of footwear. A friend of mine throws his into a 40 degree wash in the washing machine every week then hangs them up to dry. They still have to live outside though as they are still a major health hazard. There is a solution though. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda into them and leave overnight. In the morning you will think you had a new pair of trainers. Of course this works with any type of shoe as well, although natural leather doesn’t seem to make your feet as smelly as it breathes better than the synthetic materials that trainers can be made from. Check to see if you can get leather trainers if smelliness is a problem.

Shoe polishing. There are two main types of polish on the market-wax and silicone. Wax seems to be the most natural and the best. It gives a deeper shine and is better at keeping out the wet. To save the amount of polish used when cleaning the shoes try using the same brush for putting on the polish as taking it off. It works really well. If the polish in the tin has become hard and cracked all you need do is put the open tin over boiling water and it will return back to normal.

Salt-stained shoes. You can get these if you get your shoes wet on the beach or if the council grit the road in winter. You can cover them with polish but they tend to reappear again after a short period. Try using washing up liquid mixed with equal amounts of white spirit and enough water to make a cream. Work into the entire shoe, giving extra attention to the stain. This should take away the polish and hopefully the stain.

Storing shoes. “What flies high, flies low has no feet and wears shoes?” The answer to this riddle is dust (wears shoes..geddit?). This is one of the biggest problems that shoes face when they go into storage under the wardrobe or in the scullery. The best thing to do is to clean and polish them and put them into the box that they were brought home in. They will keep for years like that. Don’t put them into a plastic bag though as they could go mouldy.

Tight shoes. A very large number of people tend to buy shoes that are too small or too narrow for them. I don’t know what the reasons for this are but it is important to get a good fit .If your shoes are a bit tight though, as most new shoes tend to be then try warming the shoes first before you put them on. If you are pushed for time then sometimes putting the shoes on, taking them off and putting them on again seems to work. They seem to feel looser the second time around. Shoes that pinch you in a particular place can be very uncomfortable. Try holding the inside of the area over a kettle, when it gets hot press on it with a spoon or similar and draw the leather out. Then either wear the shoes (after they have cooled down!) or stuff them full of newspaper and leave for a few days. I filled a pair of my shoes once with newspaper and potato peelings. This was supposed to stretch the shoes. Unfortunately I forgot about them and they went very mouldy and were thrown away, so I wouldn’t recommend that.

Repairs. If you have a good pair of shoes and the stitching comes loose or they rip or the heels go, then get them repaired. I had my trusty boots sown up at a cobbler. I was charged three euro and the boots have so far given me an extra years wear. Not bad value for money is that.


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