How to Keep Shoes From Dry Rotting?
If you store your shoes for a long time without wearing them, you run the risk of having them fall apart and break down. The weakest link is the glue which starts yellowing, after that the soles start crumbling, the rubber breaks down and the leather starts to dry rot. Why does that happen and how can you prevent it?
Why do shoes dry rot?
Despite its name, dry rotting in shoes has little to do with actual rotting, and more with mold damage that occurs as a result of too much moisture. The main reason shoes dry rot and break down is because they are stored in a humid environment where mold forms and attacks the leather or the other materials that shoes are made of.
How to keep your shoes from dry rotting?
The secret to keeping your shoes from dry rotting is storing them properly in a dry environment, using cedar shoe trees, silica pockets or newspapers to absorb extra moisture, and wearing them or treating them with shoe care products at least every couple of years to reinvigorate them.
If you’re planning to store your shoes without wearing them for a long time, here are the steps you need to take to prevent your shoes from dry rotting.
1. Invest in a high quality pair of shoes from the get-go
We can talk about how to store your shoes properly and what’s the perfect environment all day long, but if your shoes are made from low-quality materials, they will not stand the test of time, even if you don’t wear them at all.
Fake leather and rubber deteriorate much faster than real leather or suede. Soles made from low-quality materials crumble much faster, and glue deteriorates faster than proper stitching. If you are planning to store your shoes for a couple of years and only wear them occasionally, you can’t cut corners when it comes to quality.
2. Store them in a controlled, dry environment
Shoes need to be stored away from extreme heat or cold, and not exposed directly to the sunlight. Keep them in a dry environment without a high room humidity or sources of moisture. A room closet is an ideal choice to store them. The laundry room in the basement? Not so much.
3. Don’t store your shoes in a plastic shoe box
Shoe boxes (whether made of plastic or cardboard) are a terrible choice to store your shoes long term and can enable the dry rotting process. They prevent natural air circulation and are the perfect environment for a moisture build up and eventually mold. Use a shoe rack or an open shelf instead
4. Use shoe trees, desiccants, or newspaper to absorb moisture
Using cedar shoe trees is by far the best option to store your shoes long term and prevent dry rotting. The cedar absorbs the moisture and has anti-bacterial and deodorant properties. Not only you’ll keep the mold away, and any bugs that may attack your shoes, but your shoes will also smell nice. Since shoe trees last forever, and they are quite cheap, investing in a pair of cedar shoe trees might be the smartest investment you can make for your shoe care.
If you don’t have access to shoe trees, you can use desiccants to keep the moisture out. Silica gels are sold in tubs or packets, and they can be placed in the closet to absorb the moisture.
If you’re on a budget, stuffing your shoes with newspaper will keep their shape and absorb some of the surrounding moisture.
5. Wear your shoes or condition them every couple of years.
Shoes are made for wearing, and keeping them in a closet for a long time is detrimental. Wearing your shoes every once in a while will expose them to fresh air and the process of cleaning them before and after the wearing will eliminate the bacteria that starts to form inside them.
An even better alternative is to treat your shoes with dedicated shoe care products like shoe conditioners or polishers, even if you’re not wearing them, just for the reinvigorating benefits. Once or twice per year should be more than enough to prevent any type of dry rotting.