Winter Weather Kick Upkeep!


Winter is brutal. Of all the four seasons, it’s the most detrimental to our skin, our clothing and, above all, our shoes (because we all know that shoes make the man). Winter’s harsh elements, from both Mother Nature and mankind, wear leather shoes out. Salt stains emerge after a few heavy snow falls in the city, and ugly cracks form after weeks of damp, windy weather. Sure, leather shoes need attention all year long, but conditions are really shoddy in the wintertime; a high-quality pair of leather shoes can be killed quickly. However, that can easily be prevented. This winter, we can save our soles by using these simple steps for wintertime shoe maintenance.

Strike first

We say we’ll do it, but we seldom do. Polish and conditioners are essential, especially during winter, but when the sales person offers, we brush him aside with “I have some at home.” We probably do, but rarely do we use it. Guys, it’s time to use the polish. By applying shoe polishes, we give our shoes a protective coating that moisturizes the leather and defends it from soggy conditions. Hey, let’s grab the $5 bottle of shoe polish and strike out against winter before it strikes out against us with must-do wintertime shoe maintenance.

Shoe-saving tip: Polish your shoes before their first winter wear to protect the leather — and your investment.

Brush it off immediately

We ought to walk in off the sidewalks and immediately brush off the soil that’s settled on our smooth leather uppers. Since each of us should own a fine-bristle shoe brush — actually, one brush per color of leather — this tactic should be easy. (If you don’t own brushes, this is your impetus to get them.) Brushing off the salt and dust straight away whisks away the problem particles before they have a chance to penetrate the polish. It sounds frivolous, but it’s an integral step that’s far from trivial when it comes to wintertime shoe maintenance.

Shoe-saving tip: Store the brushes in the bottom of your closet — or with your shoe trees — so they’re readily available when taking off your shoes.

Air dry

Winter’s slushy streets make for soppy shoes; it’s an unavoidable condition. What we must avoid, however, is our McGuyver-ish tendency to quick-dry our kicks. That means never placing wet leather shoes near a heater to accelerate the drying process — doing so will damage the leather severely! For proper wintertime shoe maintenance, remember that damp leather shoes should only be allowed to air dry. While it’s a method that goes against our need for instant gratification, we should consider it a slow burn that’s well worth it.

Shoe-saving tip: When traveling, pack wet shoes with yesterday’s newspaper to help the leather hold its shape while the shoe dries overnight.

Hold the salt

For those shoes in more severe climatic regions, salt lines eventually appear every winter. It’s like waiting for the two-minute warning every game. However, when they do show up, don’t consider it too late to change the outcome. Salt stains can easily be wiped away with a damp cloth. In fact, proactive planners can use a clean, damp cloth (or a brush) to gently wipe the upper before the salt has time to settle when coming in from overtly salty conditions.

Shoe-saving tip: Desalting products do wonders, but a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water gives the same effect.

Don’t be suede

Not all leather gets equal treatment. Suede, a handsome wintertime textile, doesn’t get the same cleaning techniques as smooth leathers. In fact, we should avoid getting it wet altogether so it doesn’t lose its texture. Yes, that’s limiting, but it beats the alternative. We will wear our suede shoes, though, and they will get dirty; but a brush or polish isn’t the answer. To clean suede, a pencil eraser eradicates stains and scuffs; a fingernail file works as well.

Shoe-saving tip: To combat winter’s damaging effects on suede, use a dry toothbrush to raise the nap should it get flattened or damaged.

Now smell this

It’s a catch-22: Wool socks complement cold weather, but they may have the adverse effect on shoes. While the heavier fabric warms our feet, it also causes them to sweat, which causes shoes to smell. Smelly shoes are less than desirable, and the damp conditions outside only compound the problem as well. So, this winter we should pay attention to this aspect of wintertime shoe maintenance and use simple solutions to help absorb odors. Shoe trees offer a holistic treatment, but talcum powder supplies a means to an end as well. Either way, odors will be minimized and wearability will be maximized.

Shoe-saving tip: Place a dryer sheet in shoes with major odor issues; the sheet will absorb the odor and its aroma will linger long after it’s been removed.

from Ask men .com


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