Shoes and boots are your hardest working accessories, and they aren’t cheap to replace either. Despite the expense, are you one of those people who shoves all your shoes in a closet in a big pile? Knowing how to store shoes properly will help you keep your shoes supple and wearable for years, thus saving you money.
There are various methods for storing shoes, but some factors are necessary regardless. Most importantly, you need to keep them shapely, clean, and dry.
Whether you need shoe storage for the short term or long term, these shoe storage tips will get you started.
1. Use a shoe tree for storing shoes short term.
Gravity, humidity, and aridity can all take their toll on shoes. Over time, the folds and creases that naturally form in worn shoes become permanent deformations of structural elements.
Also, as materials age, they become stiff. Vintage shoes with curled leather insoles and crumpled toe boxes usually spent too long in storage without shaping or filling.
For short-term storage, shoes only need the minor support of a shoe tree or reshaping by hand as you set them on a shelf. Carefully place your shoes into storage anytime you take them off. Throwing shoes in a pile on the floor will cause them to lose shape.
2. Put shoes on wooden shoe horns for long term shoe storage.
How to store shoes for the long term varies from storing shoes you wear more regularly. Shoes that will be off your feet for a week or more need structure, and wooden shoehorns and stretchers are an elegant option for helping shoes keep their shape.
However, you must use the correct size to avoid stretching the shoe. Adjustable versions let you customize the fit before storage.
Before inserting wooden or plastic shoe frames, allow shoes to rest for at least a day after wearing so any residual moisture can evaporate. Otherwise, the insert could trap dampness within the shoe and lead to deterioration.
3. Use acid-free tissue to stuff the shoes.
Acid-free paper is absorbent and maintains a shoe’s proper moisture level while protecting the shoes from deteriorating. When using paper to stuff shoes for moderate or long-term storage, opt for acid-free tissue instead of newsprint.
While paper may not have enough heft to fill boots and thick leather or felted shoes, unbleached muslin fabric is an excellent alternative. Like paper, muslin wicks away residual moisture, and it also protects metal buckles and delicate sequins from scratches.
4. Clean shoes thoroughly before storing them.
Before storing shoes, clean them thoroughly and apply leather conditioner to leather soles and uppers. Stuff shoes with just enough material to smooth the toe box and heel but not enough to stretch these areas. Wrap the filled shoes with a length of muslin or acid-free paper before placing the shoes in their storage containers.
5. Pick a shoe organizer that makes sense for you.
One of the most critical aspects of how to store shoes is where you store them. Specialized shoe storage options range from wire racks to boxes to custom cabinets, but the optimal storage solution depends on how long the shoes will go without being worn.
For shoes you wear often, open storage that lets damp leather or fabric breathe will keep shoes fresh. For long-term storage, these solutions don’t provide enough support for shoes.
Shoe Storage Boxes
Shoe boxes give your shoes the highest level of protection from dust, sunlight and temperature extremes that can sap leather shoes of their flexibility. Boxing vintage shoes and boots after stuffing and wrapping them will help preserve fine leather, cork and other organic materials.
Plastic boxes are another alternative, but be sure shoes are spotless and dry before storing to prevent mildew growth. Another option is to replace original shoeboxes with photograph storage boxes. Whatever you choose, make sure the shoe storage box is acid-free.
Shoe Racks and Cabinets
For shoes you wear regularly, a rack or cabinet with an open front allows air to circulate around your footwear while keeping dust from collecting on delicate materials. Shelving with open fronts also helps you keep shoes and boots organized.
Consider placing a shoe rack in a convenient place such as the garage, entryway or mudroom where family members can quickly put their shoes away where they belong on their way
By placing the cabinet or rack in as convenient a place as possible, family members have no excuse not to put their shoes away where they belong and out of harm’s way.
An organized mudroom or entryway indeed goes a long way when trying to keep your shoes in good shape. If your mudroom is in need of a revamp, get inspired by our upcycled mudroom bench project or our DIY mudroom bench tutorial.
Trees and peg boards that let you keep your shoes off the floor are excellent for keeping closets organized. But because anything that fits inside the shoe and distorts its silhouette can stretch leather and fabric uppers over time, these convenient items aren’t meant for long-term storage.
Save shoe trees for running shoes, flats and other casual footwear you use frequently. To preserve your shoes’ shape, switch the way you hang shoes or the way you put them in pockets.
6. Keep shoes in a climate controlled environment.
Climate-controlled storage is ideal for shoes as temperature and humidity extremes turn leather brittle, weaken fabrics and cause glues to loosen.
Shoes left too long in attics or basements can become unusable within a season or two of harsh treatment.
7. Roll acid-free cardboard for boot storage.
Keep tall winter boots in shape with rolled inserts of acid-free cardboard for the shanks after stuffing the feet with muslin or paper. This step prevents creases from weakening materials at the ankle as the boots flop to the side.
8. Add silica packets to light-weight shoes.
Summer shoes are lightweight and often contain fragile materials. Espadrilles and cork soles tolerate humidity changes poorly, so add a package of silica gel to their storage container to remove dampness. Store brightly colored shoes out of direct sunlight that could bleach them.
The best way to store shoes depends on whether you want to store them long or short term. It also depends on the type of shoe. We hope this shoe storage guide helped steer you in the right direction.
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 6/4/13 and was revised on 2/7/19 to provide new information.