Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes?

Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes?

I suppose I should consider myself lucky because my wife is one of those very few women who hate dealing with shoes, including buying shoes.

Unfortunately, that means she will slip and fall on ice at least a few times a year, and, in the summer, she will continue jogging in the same unsupportive shoes. So, to prevent all that I have started storing her shoes in plastic boxes. Which begs the question:

Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes?

Yes, under ideal conditions you can store shoes in plastic boxes. They need to be cleaned before storage and the boxes need to be in a dark, humidity-free, storage. Equally as important, the shoes need to be stored in their individual boxes to prevent cross-contamination.

Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes in Humid Climates?

The biggest problem with storing shoes in plastic boxes is if you leave somewhere in the south and you are storing leather. Most leather except extremely old shoes, carries its own water content and tends to absorb more humidity easily when it is warm. What makes matters even worse is that leather is a natural material that, no matter the treatment it has been through, bacteria will still find a suitable home.

For that reason, in humid climates, storing shoes in plastic boxes may not be the best idea. However, as anyone who has lived in the south can confirm, it is a constant battle against the humidity and warmth there.

Therefore, it is fair to ask if there is any way of storing shoes so that they do not develop mildew or simply rot away. Cardboard boxes, for example, attract humidity by themselves so they are definitely not a feasible alternative. Cubies, and shelves, on the other hand, expose the shoes to dust and tend to waste a lot more space than they save.

Therefore, the question then becomes: should you store shoes in plastic boxes in humid climates? I believe that yes, even then, clear plastic boxes are the better choice, provided you take all the necessary precautions.

How Do You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes?

Preparing your shoes for storage in plastic boxes should start with choosing the right box. First, you need to take into consideration that the shoes cannot be stacked one on top of the other. Second, make sure that the boxes are not unnecessarily tall, or you will be losing storage space.

Finally, make sure that the lids or the sides of the boxes have air vents. Too much air can dry out the leather but if the boxes are too tight, the humidity will still make its way in, and it will just encourage bacterial growth and mildew.

Once you have your boxes prepared you can start thinking about properly storing the shoes in the boxes. The most important thing here, regardless of what climate you happen to leave in, is to make sure the shoes are completely dry on the inside and the outside.

Bad odors inside the shoes tell you there is bacterial growth happening already, so sprinkle some baking powder in the shoe, leave it in there overnight and the next day shake and vacuum it out completely.

Next, make sure that the shoes are clean. The longer shoes stay dirty the greater the chances that they will become stained are. Also, you should make sure that you clean the soles of the shoe as well.

Here you do not need to worry about the way they look, you are not trying to make them look like the day you bought them after all, but you should make sure there is no thick layer of dirt, grass or leaves that will bring more humidity into your storage box.

Finally, do a final check: all that cleaning must have gotten at least some of the shoe dirty. For that reason, you should leave them in a well-ventilated area over night, just to make sure they are perfectly dry when you put them in the box.

Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes Without Them Rotting?

By now, it should be clear that the answer to that question is yes…

Yes, but you need to take a few precautions. First, be sure to clean and store your shoes properly as detailed in the earlier paragraph. Second, make sure the boxes themselves do not go into a bigger, wetter box: can you say storage locker?

Unless you are paying a lot of money for storage in a climate control facility, you should not store your shoes anywhere you could not spend the night yourself.

Equally as important, you should consider the fact that after a while shoes tend to dry out. Worn shoes, in particular, will dry out around the areas that were under the highest stress. Areas like the heel, or the band that corresponds to the point where you bend your toes as you roll your foot up from the heel, will quickly start to dry out and become fray.

So before you put your shoes into long term storage,  you should ask yourself if it isn’t a better idea to just sell them and buy new ones when the time comes.

If you are certain that it is worth storing shoes for more than a year, than you should find a few hours each year while to shoes are in storage to maintain them.

Regular shoelaces, particularly white shoe laces will attract dust even in optimal storage conditions, but they are necessary to keep the shoe in its ideal form.

The shoe itself, though,  you should take out of the box each year, clean it and apply some form of cream or conditioner appropriate for the fabric it is made of. Reapply shoe polish cream at least once per year is a must if you really love your leather shoes.

Is It Better to Store Shoes in the Original Boxes or Plastic Boxes?

Stores and factories store shoes in their original cardboard boxes. So that is a pretty convincing argument for the use of the original box the shoes came in. On the other hand, have you noticed how most shoe stores will have a summer and winter stock sale? That is because they’d rather sell their stock before it goes out of fashion, of course, but also because cardboard boxes, while cheap, do not make for good storage solutions.

In the first-place cardboard tends to accumulate humidity. Just leave an empty box in a bathroom or a humid cellar, and you will see just how gross it gets in just a couple of months. That humid card box then becomes a breeding ground for all type of smelly bacteria.

Of course, it is because of its humidity absorbing properties that cardboard boxes are preferred for the first few months while the shoes are in transit or are waiting on store shelves. However, if you are planning to use store the shoes for longer periods of time, especially in wetter climates, it would definitely be a good idea to go with an alternative, like a plastic box.

In conclusion, you can store shoes in plastic boxes however you need to make sure they are moisture free both in terms of the shoes going in, and in relation to the room where the box ends up. There is something to be said about the moisture absorbing properties of card board, but, in the long run, plastic is better and it gives you the advantage that you can easily pick the shoes you need without having to open a lot of boxes.

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