How to Care for Expensive Shoes [The Essential Guide]

How to Care for Expensive Shoes

Investing in a pair of expensive shoes is one way to put your best foot forward. Shoes are one of the first things people notice when meeting you, and even though the initial purchase of a pricey pair may come as a shock, buying a pair of expensive shoes will be a budget saver in the long run. That is, of course, if your expensive shoes are taken care of properly.

How do you care for expensive shoes? Preventing damage and keeping your shoes in great condition is the best way to care for expensive shoes. In addition, caring for expensive shoes doesn’t take up much time and doesn’t have to result in an expensive trip to a cobbler.

With the proper shoe care materials and a set routine, caring for your expensive shoes can be easy and stress-free. But with hundreds of products and different types of shoes, starting the process of proper shoe care is sometimes intimidating. This essential guide to expensive shoe care will help navigate you in the right direction and will help you keep the dignity of your shoes for years to come. Your shoes and feet will thank you.

Expensive Shoe Care Basics

Woman At Shoe Store

Before you even begin the process of prepping your shoes for wear, it’s crucial to know some rules regarding footwear. These may make the difference between your shoes lasting three months or three years.

Don’t Ignore the Price Tag

If you are hesitant to buy an expensive pair of shoes and aren’t sure if it’s worth it, know that the high price tag may end up costing less than your favorite, but unreliable, pair of shoes. A pair of shoes made from cheaper material will sell for, you guessed it, a lower price. 

However, these shoes’ materials are not always durable and may end up needing replacing within months. So even though the high price may be scary now, would you rather pay for a new pair of shoes every other year or every other month?

The Occasion Matters

This may seem like a no-brainer, but wearing your shoes to the wrong occasion may be the potential cause of their early end. Flats and heels, running shoes and brogues, all of these shoes can be expensive and are perfect for different occasions, but not all of them can be worn to the gym or the ballet. 

By dressing appropriately for your day or evening plans, you are ensuring your favorite shoes last longer.

Not Your Everyday Shoe

When you first buy your expensive pair of shoes, your first instinct may be to wear them 24/7 and never take them off. While they may be your best look yet, constantly wearing the same pair of shoes will wear them out faster than you can say, “Holy cow!”

Prepare Before You Wear

Elegant black shoes ready to dress up

This is probably the most important thing to remember when buying expensive shoes, if not the most important. Before you even put them on your feet, you want to make sure they’re ready to survive the outside world.

The first three things you want to do before wearing your new shoes are:

  1. Waterproof (AD)
  2. Condition (AD)
  3. Polish (AD)

If you want to keep your favorite pair of expensive brogues or heels for years to come, it’s important to begin taking care of them from the minute they become yours. The worst thing you can do is wait until they’re already dirty and worn.

But before you begin to start the process of caring for your expensive shoes, it’s important to know what supplies you will need beforehand.

Essential Shoe Care Supplies

shoe care

Taking care of your expensive shoes doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s vital to the process to have the correct supplies before you even begin cleaning.

Waterproofing Agents

When it rains, salt can absorb into leather and will permanently stain the shoe, so choosing a waterproofing agent is critical to the care of your shoes.

There are three types of waterproofing:

1.        Wax-Based Polishes (AD)

2.        Specialty Water Protectant (AD)

3.        Spray-On Solutions (AD)

Being proactive and waterproofing your expensive shoes is key if you want to preserve their shelf life, especially if you live in a rainy climate.

If it doesn’t rain a lot where you live, waterproofing your expensive shoes once a month should be sufficient. But if you live in a climate where it rains almost every day, you may want to waterproof your shoes once a week.

You will need to add a new waterproof coat once the water stops beading on the shoe’s surface.


Shoe conditioner, similar to hair conditioner, keeps leather nourished with moisture, which will keep the shoe from cracking. Dress shoes deteriorate much faster without conditioner because the leather will get hard and warp, as well as develop cracks. This is a step for taking care of your shoes that you don’t want to skip. There are several affordable conditioners you can find, as well as pricier ones. It doesn’t matter which one you decide to buy, as long as you remember to apply!

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03/11/2024 05:48 pm GMT

Shoe Polish

Regular use of shoe polish on expensive shoes will make sure they last and look good for longer. Leather shoes are the only kind that needs shoe polish and require monthly polishing to gain the adored mirror-like shine.

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Horsehair Brush

When cleaning dust and dirt from your shoes, it’s important to use a brush that won’t scratch the material. The most recommended brush is one made from horsehair. It is perfect for all kinds of expensive shoes due to the heavy and stiff hair. If needed, you can also use the horsehair brush (AD) to apply polish and cleaner.

Soft Cotton Cloth

No matter what you’ve been told, there’s no need to spend money on a cleaning cloth. An old T-shirt or flannel will be perfect for cleaning your expensive shoes.

Shoe Horn

Everybody knows there’s nothing worse than a new pair of shoes that are stiff and uncomfortable. By using a shoehorn (AD), your new pair of dress shoes will be stretched out and ready to put on. A good shoehorn will make putting on your shoes easier, which will also keep the back of your shoe from getting bent and worn.

Shoe Tree

Shoe trees (AD) go inside your shoe when they sit, which helps them last longer and prevents their shape from warping. While they come in plastic and wood, the best kind of shoe tree is one made from cedar wood. The wood helps to dry out the interior of the shoe and has antibacterial properties. High-quality cedar shoe trees will even give your shoe a better smell.

Cleaning Your Shoes

clean shoes

Even after you’ve gathered all of your supplies, it’s still difficult to know how to care for your expensive shoes since they’re different for all types. While most people think that only leather shoes require care and maintenance, shoe care is essential for all expensive shoes made from all kinds of materials.


Like most leather items, leather shoes can last forever if properly maintained. There are a few things that are very important to keeping leather shoes clean and nourished.

  • Cleaning – Make sure to clean your leather shoes with a horseshoe brush after every use.
  • Condition – Apply conditioner to your leather shoes about once a month to prevent cracking. Once your leather cracks, there’s no way to repair it.
  • Polish – Apply polish in circular motions with mild pressure. Once you can practically see your reflection, you’re all set!

When using polish, it’s important to try to rub it into every crevice of your shoe. This may be time-consuming, depending on the details, but it will help ensure the shoe’s appearance lasts longer.

If your leather shoe has a finish, you should clean the shoe using a damp cloth and mild soap. Using a sponge is not recommended because it may contain chemicals that could hurt the leather.

If your leather shoe is unfinished, it is best to use saddle soap to clean it. You’ll want to lather the shoe and softly rub the leather. When finished, make sure to wipe away all excess. Let the saddle soap air dry onto the leather, as it is a sealant and will help protect the shoe.

Leather shoes make for incredible dress shoes and can make a statement on any date, so you’ll want to create a routine to make sure they stay in the best shape.


Expensive canvas shoes are sometimes hard to keep clean because of their cloth material. When cleaning the canvas, you may instinctively want to put them in the wash cycle. This, however, is the last thing you want to do because the machine may end up shredding the material and wrecking your shoe.

The best way to care for your canvas shoe is to apply detergent and water to stained spots. By using a toothbrush against the stain, you can remove the spot without destroying your shoe.

When drying canvas, it’s usually best to let them air dry. If you put your canvas shoes in the machine, the shoes can warp and become unwearable. It is best to let canvas shoes air dry, use a fan, or use no heat in the dryer.


The best way to preserve your suede shoes is to apply a suede protector (AD) to keep them from getting wet. Suede shoes should be waterproofed once a month because suede can be easily damaged when wet.

Suede also stains easily, so it’s important to clean any spots or stains immediately before they set in the material. The best way to clean suede is by using a suede brush (AD) which is made with nylon bristles. These bristles are gentle and light against the material, which makes it easier to brush off any dirt or oil.

Grease stains are the worst stains you can get on your expensive suede shoes. If this happens, you’ll want to address the stain immediately by blotting the spot with a paper towel and baking soda. You can also use talcum powder when addressing the stain. You’ll want to leave it overnight and blot more lightly again the next day.

For any stains that have settled, use a solution made of two parts water and one part vinegar. This solution will try to reverse any older spots or stains.

If the stains on your suede shoes are stubborn, boil a kettle of water and keep the boil steady. The steam will help clean the suede. Then, gently wipe the shoe with a suede brush and wipe the material with a cloth to absorb all moisture.


While shoes made entirely of rubber may be rare, the use of rubber soles, inexpensive shoes, and sneakers is common. If your rubber soles and sides become dirty, using toothpaste and a toothbrush will combat the stains.

Another useful way to clean rubber is to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (AD). These products are made from melamine foam, which is really effective in removing stains.


Most expensive athletic sneakers are made using mesh and can get dirty quickly due to their use for sports and exercise. To clean mesh, you’ll want to soak the shoes in warm water with liquid dish soap. You can use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the dirty areas after the shoes have been soaking. The last thing is to let the shoe air dry in an area away from direct sunlight.


Stains in satin are sometimes the worst to get out. The most recommended way to remove stains from this material is by using a dry microfiber rag. You’ll want to address the stain immediately, or else the stain will remain in the satin.

Patent Leather

The use of petroleum jelly is the best way to remove scuffs and scrapes from patent leather. The best way to apply the jelly is with a cotton swab and to wipe gently. If your shoes need more shine, a little window cleaner will do the trick.


When sporting your expensive sheepskin shoes, it’s tempting to wear them in the snow or rain because they keep your feet warm and cozy. To keep your sheepskin shoes clean, you can use a nail or scrub brush to wipe away any dirt or debris. If you find there are a lot of persistent stains, you can use a white eraser against them. After, you should wipe the entire exterior of the shoe with a damp cloth. Make sure the cloth isn’t too wet, or it will damage the material.

If all else fails, you can use a solution made of equal parts water and distilled vinegar. Wipe off the solution using a damp washcloth and hope for the best!

The best way to dry your sheepskin boots is to stuff them with newspaper and allow them to air dry, so they hold their form.

Protecting Your Expensive Shoes

protect expensive shoes

When it comes to preserving and protecting your expensive shoes, it’s important to be proactive and remember the three most important steps for care:

1.        Waterproof

2.        Condition

3.        Polish

But even if you follow these three rules for caring for your expensive shoes, there are several other ways your shoes can be protected from damage and wear.

Add Insole or Foot Pedal 

By adding an insole (AD) or foot pedal (AD), the interior of the shoe will be protected over time. Plus, they are easily switched out once worn.

Add Rubber Soles and Heel Caps

Most expensive heels have soles made from very thin leather. Even after one use, this leather will start to thin. By adding a rubber sole (AD) you’re ensuring your favorite pair of dancing heels will last longer.

If your expensive heels are skinny, it’s recommended to ask a cobbler to put on heel caps (AD). This will prevent your stilettos from breaking or wearing down.

Keep the Insides Clean

With expensive shoes, taking care of the inside is just as important as how long the shoe lasts.

If odor is a problem, you can swab your shoes with alcohol or a drop of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an antifungal agent and will kill any bacteria growing in your shoe. However, be careful with this because it can stain leather easily.

Tackle Moisture Immediately

If your shoes end up wet, wipe them down with a dry cloth and let them air dry. Try not to apply heat because it can morph the material.

To ensure proper drying, stuff newspaper into your expensive shoes to soak up the excess moisture. Then, let the shoes air dry in an open area before putting them in your closet.

Wear Hose or Sock Liners

Wearing pantyhose or sock liners will protect your shoes from perspiration and will keep them nicer for longer.

Store Your Shoes Properly

After a long day of working and walking, your first instinct may be to kick your shoes off onto the ground of your hallway or closet. Even though you may feel relief at the moment, this may have a long-term effect on your expensive shoes.

When caring for your shoes, it’s important to note that properly storing your expensive shoes is just as important as cleaning them.

  • Keep Shoes Off Floor – When you keep your shoes on the floor, they are susceptible to scuffs, dirt, and stains.
  • Store in Duster Bags – When keeping your shoes on shelves, dust can accumulate on your shoes no matter how clean the closet is kept. By storing your expensive shoes in duster bags (AD) you’re keeping your shoes clean and preventing color damage.
  • Invest in Storage – If you just don’t have enough shelf room for your shoes, it’s a good idea to invest in some shoe storage, like cubbies and clear boxes. It is suggested to avoid using wire shelves and metal shoe racks because they aren’t built to provide shoes with sole support.
  • Keep from Light – If you like the colors of your expensive shoes and want them to maintain their appearance, it’s best to keep them out of direct sunlight.

How To Keep Shoes From Smelling

Control Odor

If you’re like most people, your shoes may begin to have an unpleasant odor after a while.

Shoes smell for three reasons:

  1. Bacteria on shoes from feet
  2. Dirt on Shoes
  3. Unclean shoes

Thankfully, there are ways to keep your shoes and closet from smelling like feet:

  • Baking Soda – Sprinkle baking soda on the shoes and keep the box inside the shoe rack. The deodorizing properties will keep the odor away, but just remember to wipe the baking soda off when you need to wear your shoes again.
  • Rubbing Alcohol – Bacteria isn’t able to thrive in the presence of alcohol, so putting a small amount of rubbing alcohol in shoes will eliminate any odor.
  • Dryer Sheets – Put some dryer sheets in your shoes when you wear them. They will not only absorb extra moisture but will also add fragrance to your shoes.
  • Baby Powder – It’s recommended to put baby powder in your shoes during or after each use. It is antibacterial and will keep your shoes odor-free.
  • Tea Bags – Boil tea bags and keep a bag in each shoe when they are not being worn for any longer than an hour. They effectively absorb bad odors and will keep your shoes smelling nice.

Smelly shoes can be embarrassing, but thankfully, there are ways to keep the odor at bay.

DIY Expensive Shoe Care Using Household Items

DIY Shoe Care

If your new pair of expensive shoes is breaking your budget and you don’t know if you can care for them, don’t worry! There are several ways you can care for your expensive shoes using ordinary household items.

Petroleum Jelly

If you are out or don’t have any shoe polish for your expensive leather shoes, you can use Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly to give your shoes the shine you love so much. Just a little will soften the leather and protect the shoe from cracking.


Any oil you can find, whether it be vegetable or olive oil, can bring moisture and shine back to your shoes. All you need to do is apply a small amount all over your clean shoes and leave them to soak for a few minutes. Afterward, you should use a soft cloth to buff and let those babies shine!

In case you’re looking to darken your leather shoes, vegetable and animal oils are perfect for darkening leather. Even though animal oil is more expensive than vegetable oil, it will also be semi-waterproof and condition leather shoes.

If you’re thinking about using any type of oil on your shoe, it’s important to note that using too much can potentially damage your shoes. Leather is extremely absorbent and soaks up oil quickly. When the oil is initially set in, you won’t be able to see it. Eventually, the oil spreads throughout the material and resurfaces. This will lead to permanent oil stains in your leather. 

When in doubt, when using oil on your leather shoes, use just a little and apply another coat once it dries.

Banana Peel

This may sound strange, but the inside of a banana peel is an effective way to make your shoes shine. All you have to do is rub the inside part on your shoe and take a soft cloth to wipe off the excess banana. Once it’s clean, use a clean cloth and buff your shoes as you would normally.

Rubbing Alcohol

After giving your expensive shoes a thorough clean, you should wet a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and spread it over the surface of your shoes in circular motions. After, use a soft cloth to buff your shoes.


All you need to do is heat some beeswax and apply it with a soft cloth. This will not only give your expensive shoes a shine but will also condition the leather and keep it from cracking.

Hair Gel

If you have any hair gel lying around, you can apply a little to your shoes and then lightly buff your shoes with a soft cloth.

Lip Balm

If you’re part of the small percentage of the population that actually uses their lip balm to the end, you can utilize the last bit by applying it to your clean shoes and buffing it to shine.


Toothpaste is perfect for cleaning white leather and rubber soles.

Final Tips for Caring for Expensive Shoes

There are so many tips and tricks to keeping your expensive shoes immaculate and ready to wear. Here are some additional helpful tips for taking care of expensive shoes:

  • Avoid storing shoes in plastic boxes; it may lead to rotting.
  • Nail files can be used to remove stains on suede.
  • Make sure shoes are dry before applying any sort of polish.
  • Avoid using liquid polish; this may damage leather and create a hard-to-remove lacquer.
  • Don’t wear suede on rainy days.


A good pair of expensive shoes is an investment, like a house or car. If you want them to last long, it’s important to be proactive and take proper care of them. An expensive pair of shoes will be there for you during the good times and bad, so prevention and care are key to ensuring that your favorite pair is with you for the long term.

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