It’s getting cool at night and pretty soon we’ll be making the seasonal switch to warmer footwear. How are you feeling about storing your summer shoes, though?
I hear from a lot of my friends that for some, looking at their stuffed closet has become a source of wistfulness for the olden days of 8 months ago. For others, they see it as a burdensome pile of stuff that seems to have worn out its usefulness for the time being.
Whichever way you are feeling, most people don’t have enough space in their closet to keep all of their shoes ready and waiting for a summer frolic. It’s time to switch out the footwear and make room for those Uggs and booties and the hope of a new season.
Assessing Your Needs
Downsizing readers will predict what I’m going to say: You know you didn’t wear all of those summer shoes this year, not even close!
Yes, it was a highly unusual summer with very few opportunities to wear your good shoes.
And yes, with a little luck next year we’ll be rejoining a life of business meetings, vacations, social events and dinners out. Being reunited with a huge selection of footwear will be a delight!
But then again, by April 2021 most of our shoes will be at least 2 seasons old and some new looks will be in order.
I think it’s safe to say we’re all going to want some new shoes next year. So, let’s save ourselves some time now and make room for our fabulous future shoes while we’re at it.
Downsizing Your Shoe Inventory
There are a few no-brainer rules of thumb that will work to help you reduce your shoe collection:
Fun shoes you never wore: There must be a reason, whether they don’t fit quite right, the heel is a little too high, foot slides forward, hard to walk in… Whatever your reason, the solution is the same: Donate those cute, in-good-condition shoes and move on.
Cute shoes someone gave you that you never wore more than once: Instant donation pile.
Comfortable shoes you wore to death: This was the summer of wearing your comfortable and casual shoes all of the time. Take a hard look at them and consider: would you feel great wearing these out on a trip to the mall or to brunch? Or are they dirty and worn down? Can they be cleaned (see below) or do they really just need to be replaced? As always, if you’re hard to fit, make sure you have a replacement pair ready before you trash anything you may actually need.
Good-quality dress shoes you didn’t wear: We’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt on these; if you genuinely think you’ll wear them next summer go ahead and store them again.
Athletic shoes: New but unused or unwanted athletic shoes should be donated. Broken down athletic shoes should be discarded. Don’t fall into the trap of holding onto many pairs of used-up running or walking shoes so that you’ll have backups. They’re used up, remember? Allow yourself one pair and throw away the rest.
Clean Before Storing
Flip flops and other rubber shoes are easy: use mild detergent and water in the sink with a soft scrub brush.
For Teva-type sandals, stick with antibacterial soap and water. The Teva website also suggests that they can be soaked in mouthwash to combat odors. OK! That’s a new one but it does seem to make sense.
There’s tons of advice on the internet for cleaning summer sandals, mostly geared toward Birkenstocks or other leather/suede footbeds. See our Pinterest page for popular techniques. Also, Arm and Hammer baking soda very much wants to be a part of your shoe cleaning routine. They have tons of advice on their website.
Honestly, after the casual summer we had, I’m not sure my Birkenstocks are within cleaning range. If someone wants to try any of these methods please let us know how it turns out!
Whatever you do, don’t use harsh methods like a Magic Eraser, or Windex, or machine-washing any of your shoes. And, once they are as clean as you can get them, be sure the make sure they are completely dry before you move them into a storage situation.
Storing Summer Shoes
- Clear plastic boxes are generally considered the best way to store shoes. If you have the space and if your shoe quality justifies the cost of the box, go for it.
- Hanging shoe racks are a practical and easy option. They are relatively inexpensive and can hang in a guest closet.
- Don’t throw all of your shoes into a bin because they will get scuffed, creased, and smushed. If you have to use a bin or box, be strategic about it and stuff your shoes with clean paper to avoid crushing.
- If you have full-grain leather shoes you didn’t wear this year, consider preserving them. Treat them with a quality leather restorer before putting them away again.
- It may be time to let go of leather shoes that haven’t been worn or treated for several years. Leather does not like to go untreated for years at a time. If you truly love them you may need to involve a professional.