We’re nearing the end of this Harlem winter, and before we gather our winter gear to pack away for spring, it’s worth taking proper steps to care for your shoes and boots. After all, they did just endure (and hopefully survive) a brutal season of subzero temps, rain-soaked streets and winter squalls. While road salt helps both motorists and pedestrians get a grip on their way to Point B, it’s not exactly a great solution for keeping your shoes kicking.
Follow these four easy steps to get your footwear back in shape.
1. Stuff ‘Em
Soaked shoes can lose their shape easily. The excess moisture makes the leather more pliable and more prone to warping. The best solution is to stuff your shoes with cedar shoe trees as they maintain the shoe’s shape while absorbing excess moisture and fending off offensive odors. If you’re treeless, the next best thing is newspaper (and not old Harlem World Magazines).
2. Dab ‘Em
Next, remove any salt stains by dabbing them with a towel and a solution of one part white vinegar with two parts water. The vinegar helps to break up the salt and lifts it to the surface of the leather.
3. Condition ‘Em
Though your shoes have just gotten the salt out of their system, they’re still thirsty. They’ve been stripped of vital oils and vitamins in the process and need to be replenished before stepping out again. If you don’t, the leather can dry out and crack (neither of those things are good). Condition them with a leather lotion to restore those essential nutrients which will keep the leather healthy.
4. Protect ‘Em
Now that the leather has been fed, the last step is to protect your shoes for their next outing. Leather waxes and leather protectors help provide a barrier against the elements, ensuring that your shoes can make it a few more paces before needing to go this whole routine again. Once you’ve conditioned your shoes with leather lotion, apply a leather wax/protector all around the shoes, making sure to get into the welts and stitching.
Read more from the great folks at Gear Patrol here.