How can we make sure our beloved sneakers last as long as possible? From post-purchase care to repair, this article will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to keep your sneakers looking fresh and new for as long as possible.
Taking care of what you own is the most sustainable option
We all know that feeling when we find the perfect pair of sneakers—they’re comfortable, stylish, and seem to go with everything. We wear them every chance we get, from the office to the gym to weekend brunch with friends. But eventually, they start to show signs of wear and tear.
It can be heartbreaking to say goodbye to a favourite pair of sneakers, especially when we know that the fashion industry’s impact on the environment is enormous. That’s why keeping items in our wardrobes for longer is one of the most sustainable things we can do as conscious consumers.
We’ve put together this guide on caring for your sneakers so they last longer. Whether you’re a sneaker enthusiast or just want to make your footwear last, we have tips to help you do just that. From post-purchase care, cleaning and maintaining your sneakers, to repairing them when necessary, we’ll walk you through every step of the process (pun intended). Let’s get started.
Before you start wearing your sneakers
It all starts with post-purchase immediate care. When you first bring your new sneakers home, it’s essential to give them some love and attention right away. This will set the stage for the rest of their lifespan and ensure they stay looking and feeling their best for as long as possible:
- First, make sure you buy the correct size for you: “Ill-fitting shoes can cause all sorts of problems: beyond various biomechanical issues and potential damage to the human body, sneakers bear quite a lot of brunt when worn improperly. Wear can be accelerated due to excessive pronation from shoes lacking support, or heavy creasing can occur because of roomy toe boxes on too-big shoes,” says international footwear magazine Sneaker Freaker.
- Buying sneakers made from quality and durable materials also increases their chances of lasting longer. Those SHEIN shoes might be cheap and look great on the website, but chances are they won’t last long, and they might even melt.
- Then, you might want to treat your sneakers with a protective or waterproof spray. This will help to repel dirt, stains, and water, keeping your sneakers looking fresher and cleaner for longer. Make sure to choose a spray that’s suitable for the materials used in sneakers.
Taking these simple steps right after purchasing your sneakers will help to set them up for a long and healthy life.
Make cleaning your sneakers a regular habit
Cleaning and maintaining your sneakers regularly can help them to look their best and prolong their lifespan. Here are some tips to help you get started:
The first step in maintaining your sneakers is to clean them regularly. Dust and dirt can accumulate on your sneakers’ surface, leading to discolouration and damage over time.
- Use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to remove dirt and stains from the surface of your sneakers. Be sure to clean the soles of your sneakers as well.
- When cleaning your sneakers, try to avoid harsh chemicals or detergents and use mild soap and water or specialised sneaker cleaning products that are gentle on the materials.
- Washing machines are great, but we’d recommend avoiding using the washing machine to clean your sneakers. Instead, stick to those soft brushes or cloths to gently clean the surface of your sneakers. “Stop being lazy and stay away from the washing machine. As appealing as it may sound, the machine will only ruin the sneakers’ materials, and can also make the stitches come loose,” warns Hybebae.
After cleaning your sneakers, it’s important to dry them properly:
- Allow them to air dry at room temperature.
- Avoid drying them in direct sunlight or using heat sources such as a hair dryer, as this can cause the materials to warp or shrink.
- When you’re not wearing your sneakers, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight
- Avoid dumping them in a corner or stacking them on top of each other, as this can cause the materials to deform.
- Consider using shoe trees or stuffing your sneakers with tissue paper to help them maintain their shape.
Finally, opt for weather-appropriate materials. Sneaker Freaker’s recommendations are to “save that suede for sunny days with a zero percent chance of rain, and consider wearing more weatherproof materials when you see an inclement forecast. Wear the right shoe for the right situation, and there will be some happy feet.”
Maintaining and repairing sneakers
As much as we try to take care of our sneakers, wear and tear are often inevitable. But don’t despair. Having your sneakers fixed or repaired is a great way to extend their lifespan and keep them looking good for longer.
Going to the cobbler should be your first solution for repairs or more significant issues. A professional cobbler can repair any damage to the soles or uppers of your sneakers and can also provide services such as cleaning, conditioning, and waterproofing. Ideally, look for a cobbler or even an online service or platform specialising in repairing sneakers and using high-quality materials.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try some DIY repairs. But be careful not to make the problem worse or damage the materials further. You can also find tutorials online to guide you through specific repairs.
Remember, taking care of your sneakers (and anything you own in general) is better for your wallet and the planet. By following the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you can extend their lifespan and do your part in creating a more sustainable future for fashion. But if you feel like your shoes are way beyond repair, consider recycling them (some brands even offer take-back schemes).
So go ahead, take care of those beloved sneakers, and step into a more sustainable future!