Picking the perfect pair of shoes is only half the battle – you want that perfection to last. If you’re anything like me, once you find your pair with a balance of specialized features, it gets worn immediately and you run it into the ground. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to refresh your hard-working footwear and extend its life.
1. FREEZE THEM
My sneakers live double lives; on my feet and in my gym bag. Unfortunately, both of these are a paradise for bacteria and airing out my shoes overnight doesn’t help much.
Science lesson! Bacteria are saprophytic organisms that feed by releasing concentrated acids or bases to dissolve materials into digestible components, and release gasses such as methane in the process. Hence, the resulting “gym sock” smell, discoloration, and brittleness that affects various components of your shoes to make them fall apart.
The simple solution is to stick your gym shoes into a bag and put them in the freezer. The cold temperature will kill off most of the offensive brood and slow down any that survives. This is good enough to do once a week, just don’t forget the bag because gasses trapped in the fabric will leak to make your ice cream smell like funk. No one wants funky ice cream.
2. BAKE THEM
A frustrating feature of hiking shoes is that by the time you break them in the leather starts to be not-so-waterproof. While there are many expensive specialized solutions to keep your boots functional, one quick and cheap home remedy is petroleum jelly and heat.
Petroleum jelly is one of those products that can claim it’s place next to duct tape and super glue. Discovered on oil rigs in the 1850s, this jelly was first used as a topical ointment to cure cuts and burns, but its uses exploded when it hit the general public. While not all those uses proved true, it still maintains its reputation as a “cure all” and can water-proof worn shoes to boot! Pun intended.
To re-proof your boots, all you will need is some jelly, a brush, and an oven. First, clean as much dirt as you can from the boots with special attention to seams and creases. Then, apply the vaseline generously and rub in with a circular motion. Finally, set them in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes or until the deep color starts fading. The jelly will get absorbed by the materials and, although there may be some discoloration on account of the oils, the boot will now be sealed for your next rainy hike.
If you have any tips, or tried these solutions out, let us know in the comments below!
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
If you end up buying something through a link on our site, we generally get a small commission on the referral, this won't cost you more, but helps us keep the lights on around here!
For all media review requests, reach out to our managing editor, David Skinner.