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Shoes — we all have to wear them. But they can be tough to break in and even tougher to keep looking as good as the day we bought them. I’m here to help with some brilliant shoe hacks that fit about every footwear conundrum. So whether you wear running shoes, heels, boots, or everything in between, we’re about to drop some useful knowledge on you.
Before we get to the tips, I have a few new shoes hacks to consider before breaking out your wallet. We’ve all been in the store to try on shoes. You find a pair, then get home and suddenly they don’t feel great. This scenario is very common with kids. All of a sudden, they’re ugly and don’t fit.
Style aside, the time of day that you try on shoes can make a difference in how they fit. According to research, the afternoon or later in the day (not in the morning) is the best time to try on shoes. Feet swell during the day due to blood circulation, and they’re at their biggest in the morning. An afternoon shopping trip will reflect your most accurate shoe size. And try on both shoes so you’ll get a perfect fit.
1. Clean stains off white tennis shoes with nail polish remover.
Wondering how to clean shoes without washing them? Just make sure you have some nail polish remover on hand. You’ll need it to clean white shoes, and it’ll also remove scuffs from patent leather shoes.
Out of nail polish remover? Try a white pencil eraser or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on the white rubber soles of your shoes.
Related: 50 Deep Cleaning House Hacks for Neat Freaks
2. Tape the third and fourth toes on each foot before wearing closed-toed heels.
High heels sure are cute, but if you need to stand or walk in them for a long time, it can be brutal on your feet. Use flexible, clear medical tape to wrap your third and fourth toes together. This will alter your balance a little, but it takes the pressure off the balls of your feet.
3. Put panty liners in your shoes to absorb sweat.
Wondering how to stop sweaty feet in your favorite summer slip ons? Just keep some panty liners around and you’re all set. Beware that if your shoes are already on the tight side, a panty liner may make the shoes even tighter. However, it makes for a great “shoe slipping off heel” hack if yours is a little loose.
4. Sand the bottoms of shoes that have slippery soles.
The next time you’re at a home improvement store, pick up an inexpensive sanding block. Run it over the soles of new or slippery shoes a few times and you won’t have to worry about them sliding when you walk.
Fun fact: back in the day, I would scuff the bottoms of my new shoes on my driveway.
5. Prevent chafing on heels with Vaseline.
If you’re a runner or you work out a lot, then this shoe hack is an absolute must. Apply a coating of Vaseline petroleum jelly to your heel to prevent dryness and chafing. This tip is most effective with socks on and left overnight.
Psst … if working out is your thing, then you need to check out all of the places you can do it totally free!
6. Soak blistered feet in warm black tea to reduce infection.
Black tea‘s tannins act as astringents that help toughen up feet, reduce infection, and stop bleeding from open cuts or scrapes. Plus, it’s an affordable and convenient method. Epsom salt or blister cushions are a great backup option.
7. Use Windex to shine patent leather shoes.
THIS is how to clean shoes! You probably already have some Windex around, and if not, then you need to grab some. Spray the glass cleaner on the shoe, then wipe away with a cloth.
My advice is to spray it lightly because too much can cause the patent leather to crack. Vaseline is an alternative that is useful for scuffs and shine.
8. Stretch a pair of tight leather shoes by wearing thick socks and blow-drying the tight area.
A blow dryer on your shoes? Yep, this is one of those shoe hacks everyone just needs to know. Wearing thick socks and using a blow dryer on a medium setting for about two minutes will expand the leather. After the leather is heated, keep the socks on and walk around so that it doesn’t shrink again. This definitely won’t work on fake leather or vinyl shoes.
Related: Let’s Make These 16 Cheap Online Clothing Stores Even Cheaper
9. Spray your feet with hairspray to prevent them from sliding down or slipping out of heels.
Need a “shoe slipping off the heel” hack that’s easily solved? Spray hairspray on the bottom of your feet before you slip on your shoes. It also helps when wearing flip-flops. Your feet won’t fall out as easily.
10. Stuff newspaper into wet boots to absorb moisture quickly.
This isn’t how to stop sweaty feet inside snow boots, but it’ll get them dry for the next time you — or your kiddo — is ready to head back out into the cold. Crumble the newspaper to the top of the boot, and let it set overnight for the best results.
Check out other cold weather hacks for shoes, cars, clothes, and your home to survive the winter.
11. Loosen tight shoes by placing them in the freezer with Ziploc bags filled with water.
Fill two Ziploc bags with water and seal them tightly. Place the bags inside tight shoes, and let them sit overnight in the freezer or until the water in the bags freezes. As the water freezes, it will slowly expand the bag to gently stretch the walls of your shoes.
12. Insert wool fabric into shoes to keep your feet warm when it’s cold.
Keep your toes toasty with this little shoe hack. When it’s time to clean your shoes, you can just toss the liners in the wash. Note that adding any thickness will cause the shoe to be a bit tighter. This tip works best with shoes that have some wiggle room.
13. Roll a tennis ball under your foot after a long day on your feet.
Other than finding a partner or willing child to rub your feet, use those tennis balls that are collecting dust in your closet to soothe them. Roll them back and forth under your feet to release tension. You can also buy a spiky massage ball at Walmart for about $5, but a tennis ball works just as well if you have one.
14. Sprinkle baking soda in shoes to absorb odors.
This is how to clean shoes that are stinky. The best part? There’s really no clean up after. Once the baking soda wears off, just sprinkle some more in. If you get it on the floor, just vacuum it up — it absorbs odors on the carpet, too!
I stuffed scented dryer sheets in my hubby’s shoes to try and squash the odor. Don’t tell him that I shared this, or I’ll deny it and swear that his feet smell like roses.
15. Buff away tough dirt stains on suede shoes with a nail file.
Wondering how to clean shoes that require a gentle touch? This is it! Go slow and use a fine grain nail file. It works with white suede, too.
16. Tie your house or car key to your shoe when you go running.
Use your shoes to get more freedom when you’re exercising. Tie your keys tightly to your shoelace and hit the road. This works when you head to the gym, too! And if you need a new gym membership, then we know how to get the best deals.
17. Pack breakables, glasses, and/or jewelry in your shoes while traveling.
Empty shoes are pretty useless in luggage, so repurpose them to store your valuables or fragile items when traveling. They’re less likely to get lost or damaged in your luggage this way. Bonus travel tip: wrap jewelry in Glad Press’n Seal so they don’t get tangled.
18. Use a shower cap to keep dirty shoes away from clean clothes in your luggage.
If you can’t figure out how to clean shoes on vacation, then at least you won’t spread the damage to the rest of your gear. Use a shower cap to store dirty shoes. I’ve also used plastic grocery store bags, zip top bags, and small garbage bags. You can even use empty bags from bread loaves!
19. Keep the shape of tall boots with pool noodles.
Pool noodles help keep tall boots staying tall and prevent the dreaded slump in your closet. Newspaper works, too. Just buy the pool noodles at the end of the summer when they’re on clearance. You can also pick some up at Dollar Tree or Lowe’s.
20. Remove scuffs on patent leather shoes with Vaseline.
Use a Q-tip or cotton ball to apply Vaseline petroleum jelly. The jelly will improve the look of scuff marks and add some shine to leather. It’ll also work to clean white shoes.
21. Apply deodorant to your heels and sides of your feet to prevent blisters.
The deodorant will help prevent chafing and keep your feet dry. Another option is to use a blister cushion to protect the skin and relieve pressure from blisters. Apply it to clean, dry skin.
22. Keep feet free from sweat by spraying dry shampoo into shoes.
Still wondering how to stop sweaty feet? Spray dry shampoo in your shoes as a slippery heels hack. This works especially well when wearing flats.