It may be summer time in many parts of the world, but over here in Nigeria, it’s raining cats, dogs and rabbits! You may be a fan of the cold and wet but are your shoes? We are not used to trading our designer shoes for rain boots in these parts, no matter how stylish, but it is sensible to wear those weather enduring shoes you have instead of your Loubs on the days that it’s pouring. Waterproof shoes are most commendable – this means that the construction and materials of the shoes are designed to keep water out, which is good right?
For those who don’t mind risking their Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos however, here are some easy tips to protect them from future drizzles and downpours:
- There are sprays that protect leather and suede from the elements, and they can be easily found at shoe repair shops, superstores or online. Brands such as Kiwi offer a Rain & Stain Protector which once sprayed on shoes, can last up to 15 rainy days, but it’s important to note that sprays do not make shoes waterproof — only water-resistant.
- If your shoes have already weathered a storm or two, it’s not too late to restore them through proper drying. Stuff shoes with newspaper several times until the water is fully absorbed. It also helps with any odor the shoes might have. Never blow hot air on them from your blow dryer as this can cause shrinking and cracking; If you heat them you will cause the moisture to leave too quickly instead, let your shoes dry naturally under room temperature, natural air outside or under a fan, even if it’s only a teensy bit wet. This is the key to basic hygiene and to make your shoes last long.Wick off the water right away or use a dry rag or towel if available to wipe off the water first though. The key is to draw the moisture out, so every hour or so replace the moist paper with dry paper. Depending on the extent of the soaking, this could take from two hours to two days.Wet sole leather will wear out twice as quickly as dry sole leather and if it’s leather, cracked leather doesn’t heal!
- If you are not using some shoes regularly, be sure to stuff them with newspaper and put them in a heavy cloth bag. Be super careful as your wooden cupboards might also absorb moisture in this wet season, so to avoid moisture retention by leather shoes, keep sachets of silica gel or place a bowl of soda bicarbonate in your wooden cabinets.
- If you’ve got shoes that have grown fungus on them, you don’t need to throw them off right away. Your best chance of recovering them is by scrubbing them gently with an old toothbrush. However, you have to ensure that nothing is left behind, not even in the smallest crevices of the shoe, since it will all grow back. So clean them properly and air-dry them naturally to avoid further attacks of the mould.
Leather is animal skin which is made up of fat and proteins can only retain a set amount of moisture after being cured and tanned. The fibers that criss-cross each other in the hide, give leather its unique strength, but are also very susceptible to drying out and cracking if not treated with care. Water can and will destroy the suppleness of your shoe’s leather if not dealt with properly and it warps the shape of the shoe in an undesirable way ending up with cracks your shoes.
Here are some tips on keeping your leather in tip-top condition in this weather:
It is also vital for shoes to have good traction, to prevent slipping and falling.
- Never wear your new shoes in the rain until they have been worn about 3 or 4 times. They need to be broken in slowly, rather than taken straight into harsh weather.
- If you are walking through wet surfaces, it is really important you treat your leather with care immediately you reach your destination. A simple, brisk wipe off will suffice.
- Have you noticed your leather shoes get a whitish stain? That’s salt, which surfaces if you live in salty areas, and it is hard to remove. Wiping your shoes off immediately you get to your destination will prevent this.
- Wipe down your leather shoes after walking through the slush!
- Polish your shoes regularly. … with lots of polish and allow them to sit with the polish on as long as possible. Ideally, you should let the polish stay on overnight. Make sure you get plenty of polish into the welt and the crack between the upper and the sole. Conditioning and polishing the leather will help keep your shoes in tip-top shape and ready for whatever you throw at it. Polishing your shoes not only maintains the quality but also protects it from the moisture.
- For your leather shoes, use a leather conditioner or a good leather polish to replenish the oil in your leather shoes. Ideally, one should take a small amount of the conditioner on a soft cotton cloth and gently rub it onto the shoes in circular motions. Also, do not ever let mud stay on your footwear after a walk in the rain. The clumps of hardened mud that form on the shoes after drying can prove to be taxing for your shoes. Ensure that you take a brush and shed off any mud before it dries off.