When you find a pair of shoes that look great and fit even better, it can be hard to say goodbye — even when they’re falling apart. Luckily, there are a few surprisingly easy ways to make your old shoes look new again, and believe it or not, most of these DIY solutions are available on Amazon. To help find the best options, I reached out to a shoe-repair expert: Guy Berteau, the head of footwear and accessories restoration services over at TheCobblers.com.
“In most cases, the heels and soles of the shoes are the first part to wear out,” Berteau wrote in an e-mail to Bustle. After that, the upper (or the part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot) usually isn’t far behind, as these “tend to get scuffed up” pretty easily. As a result, you’ll likely want to look for products that fix, reinforce, or renew these areas. That said, there are plenty of solutions for the other parts of the shoe, too (and if you’re looking to seriously up your skills, thecobblers.com actually offers a sneaker rescue and leather works academy.)
Yes, “it can be very hard to separate from a well-loved pair of shoes,” according to Berteau, but thanks to a few hacks, you don’t necessarily have to. From a pro-recommended leather polish to toe beds that make heels way more comfortable, check out these brilliant products for repairing old shoes from heel to toe.
1. The Best Leather Shoe Polish, According To An Expert
“A lot of people like to polish their own shoes and there is a big community built around doing DIY shoe polishing and mirror shines,” Berteau wrote. If you’d like to give it a try, Berteau recommends Famaco’s Deluxe Shoe Polish, which is a special leather-polishing paste that contains beeswax and turpentine. It’s available in five colors (black, brown, dark brown, light brown, and neutral), and it’s designed to minimize scuffs and deliver a gorgeous shine.
2. If You’re Looking To Re-Dye Shoes To Enhance The Color
“There are also some people that push it further and attempt to re-dye their own shoes,” Berteau wrote, and Fiebing’s dye is considered one of the best penetrating leather and suede dyes around. It permanently restores and brightens dull, faded colors without cracking, peeling, or rubbing off on things. Once dry, it also keeps materials flexible and supple. Currently, this dye has more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon (many of which say it’s “easy to use”), and it comes in your choice of several colors from classic black to bright green.
3. Condition Leather With A Protective Formula
To get your leather protected and the color looking rich, there’s this Chamberlain’s leather milk. Its no-mess formula quickly and easily conditions leather while simultaneously protecting it from future damage. It doesn’t have a chemical smell like other brands, either. It’s great on belts and bags, but reviewers especially love it on boots and shoes that’ve been through some rough times in the salt, water, and mud.
4. Fix Everything From Holes To Heels With Shoe Goo
Talk about your across-the-board footwear solution. Shoe Goo can be used to stop fraying, fix holes, rebuild worn soles, protect shoes from the elements, reattach broken heels, and adhere replacement pieces. It goes on clear, sticks to just about any surface, and dries into a waterproof and flexible rubber consistency that makes your shoe game that much better. With more than 25,000 reviews and a 4.5-star overall rating, customers can’t stop raving. “I was skeptical when I purchased this glue, but I was truly amazed at how well it worked,” one of them wrote. “$5.99 saved me from buying another $150 dollar pair of shoes for a solid year (and counting).”
5. Rub Away Stains From Fabric, Leather & More
This well-rounded shoe revival kit is great for almost any kind of shoe — including cotton, leather, and vinyl. The easy-to-use spray bottle also comes with a durable wooden brush that gets deep into fabric, pulling out stains and dirt. After cleaning just about every shoe in the house, one reviewer comments: “Now I completely understand why people have been talking about this product for years.”
6. Line The Interior Of Your Heels With Comfort
When you’re wearing heels, most of the weight is on the ball of your foot, so that interior area of your shoe takes a huge beating and the cushioning can fall after just a few wears. These Step 1 toe beds reinforce the interior sole, while creating a comfortable gel cushion for your foot. They’re clear, contain individual toe cradles, can be trimmed, and have a peel-back adhesive that sticks to any pair.
7. Reinforce Your Shoes With DIY Moleskin
Jaybird and Mais moleskin is a must-have for reinforcing shoes. This adhesive-backed cotton cloth sticks anywhere you need a little bit of extra padding, like in hole-filled flats, ripped shoe lining, and deteriorating canvas. The adhesive is latex-free, and the fabric itself is soft, thick, durable, and can be cut into any shape you need. “I am using the moleskin to pad the heel areas of one pair of shoes and toe area of another. Both pairs of shoes fit in such a way that they rub badly on my feet, but the use of moleskin has solved the problem with both pairs of shoes,” one buyer wrote. Customers have even used it as a quick fix for bras, feet, and more.
8. Nail Poking Through On Your Heels? Replace The Cap
When it comes to saving your heels (or protecting them before they even need saving), these heel caps are a great little trick. They’re made from flexible rubber that puts an end to annoying heel tapping on the pavement. Plus, they’re so simple to apply: Slide them right over your heels and get on with your day. They come in two colors and seven sizes, which are listed in millimeters so you can ensure the best fit.
9. Even Out The Heels Of Your Boots & Shoes
This sole repair solution is designed to extend the life of your boots and other shoes with a non-slip material that evens out the heel after some serious wear. The set of 10 plates comes with complimentary nails, but don’t let the DIY aspect intimidate you: Most reviewers agree they are easy to pop in and you can even add a little bit of glue to the plate to ensure they stick on better. However, although they work well on most shoes and boots, they may not do the trick for cowboy boots.
10. Add Inserts To Fix Any Support Issues
If your favorite sneakers or other pair of shoes aren’t as supportive as they once were, check out these Superfeet premium insoles. They’re arched for utmost comfort, are made from a high-density foam that absorbs shock and cushions your foot, and have an anti-bacterial lining to keep things sanitary. They might not be the cheapest inserts out there, but these have thousands raving. “Nothing short of amazing,” one customer wrote. “My feet were in constant pain. I could not figure out what was causing the pain. I went to see my doctor twice and had x-rays. The doctor said that it could be due to arch support. I bought my first pair of these at REI. Gradually the pain went away and now I am completely pain free. I bought more of these to fit my many shoes, including tennis shoes, hiking boats, dress shoes, work boots. Pain problem solved.” They’re available in an impressive range of eight sizes.
11. Touch Up Fabric Shoes With A Laundry Marker
For touch-ups on fabric, this Sharpie Rub-A-Dub permanent laundry marker is more than your average Sharpie. It colors fabric without bleeding, feathering, or coming off in the wash, which means it’s great for canvas shoes that occasionally come into contact with water. One thrilled reviewer wrote: “I don’t get excited about much, especially something like a marker, but I got to say, I am amazed by this.”
12. Keep Your Shoes Smelling As Fresh As They Look
Once you’ve got your shoes looking like new, you’ll want them smelling like it, too. These Purggo mini natural air fresheners use no chemicals or gels. Instead, they’re made from all-natural bamboo charcoal, which works to absorb excess moisture and unwanted odors. Put them in your shoes overnight (yes, even your gym shoes) and wake up to fresh-smelling footwear.
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