How to make leather shoes slip-proof and other hacks

Leather loafers standing on a wet wooden floor

Keep your footing when the weather turns icy or cold
Image: Breslavtsev Oleg/Shutterstock

Leather shoes are always in vogue and for good reason – they’re stylish, comfy, hard-wearing and breathable. But their soles can be slippery when it’s wet or icy outside, especially when they’re new.

Want to avoid sliding all over the sidewalk or landing abruptly on your behind when it’s raining? Here are our top hacks to make your leather shoes slip-proof, waterproof and perfectly buffed – whatever the weather throws at them.

Rough up your soles

Classic Oxford Shoes in Black from Samuel Windsor

Scrub leather soles with sandpaper to make them less slippery
Image source: Classic Oxford Shoes in Black from Samuel Windsor

Sleek, classic Oxfords from Samuel Windsor are shoes you can be justly proud of. Made from premium Italian leather, they’ll last ten years or longer if you take good care of them. But you don’t want your brand new leather soles sending you skidding across a wet sidewalk, so it’s best to prepare them in advance.

Scuffing is the answer. Take some medium grade sandpaper – 60- to 100-grit is ideal – and rub it across the sole of each shoe until you rough up the shiny surface. Another way to scuff the soles is to wear your new shoes outside for a stroll on the sidewalk when the weather’s good. Deliberately scrape the soles as you walk. You might get some odd looks from your neighbors, but it will definitely make your shoes less slippery on polished floors and wet walkways.

Keep the leather polished

Shoe Polish Cream in Black from Samuel Windsor

Regularly polishing your shoes can ensure they stay waterproof
Image: Shoe Polish Cream in Black from Samuel Windsor

According to an old saying, you can “judge a man by his shoes,” so always keep yours clean and shined if you want to make a good impression. Not only that, regularly polishing your shoes will make them more weatherproof. The military takes shoe-shining to extraordinary lengths because they know that this helps to protect their soldiers’ feet. You don’t have to go to extremes, but do borrow their traditional methods and use an old-fashioned can of polish, rather than cutting corners with so-called easy alternatives. They just won’t make the grade.

Want to know how? Wrap a piece of soft rag around your index finger and rub it in the can of polish. Massage the polish over your shoe, in small circular movements, to cover every inch of the leather upper. If you have time, leave the polish for a few hours, or overnight, before using a soft, clean cloth to buff your shoes up to a brilliant shine.

Don’t dry shoes using direct heat

Wet shoes stuffed with newspaper

Packing shoes with newspaper can help the drying process
Image: Teeradej/Shutterstock

No matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable that your leather shoes will get wet at some point. When that happens, it’s vital to let them dry thoroughly. Soggy feet are uncomfortable and dampness will shorten the lifespan of your shoes. Resist the temptation to put them by a heater or in front of the fire – direct heat can make leather crack and split. Instead, scrunch up newspaper and pack it inside your shoes. Leave them in a warm and airy place, like the laundry room or entrance hall, while the paper slowly absorbs the moisture.

Sometimes water mixed with road salt leaves unsightly white stains on leather. In this case, wipe your shoes over with a rag dunked in a 2:1 mix of water and white vinegar to remove the stain. Rub the shoes over again with a clean, damp cloth, leave them to dry thoroughly, then give them a good polish.

Alternate the shoes you wear every day

Wooden stretchers next to two pairs of brown leather shoes

Using wooden stretchers will keep your shoes in shape
Image: Kartinkin77/Shutterstock

Alternate the shoes you wear each day to give the uppers a chance to dry thoroughly and to let the inners regain their shape. Keep the shoes you’re not wearing in a box or shoe bag in a dry place and consider using wooden shoe stretchers.

Investing in footwear with a Goodyear welted sole gives your shoes a much longer lifespan. A good shoe repair shop will be able to replace the soles when they eventually wear down, and you’ll get years of wear from your favorite shoes.

Posted in Men's Shoes.

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