How To Store Shoes (with Photos) | 16 Strategies | 3 Mistakes to Avoid
For short-term storage, fill boots and shoes with shoe trees. Keep them in a shoe bin when you come home. Consider getting a wood cabinet or shoe rack instead of a wire rack.
For long-term storage, fill footwear up with cloth, paper or a cedar shoe tree. Keep it boxed or bagged. For leather, consider removing polish and applying conditioner.
Hi! My name’s George and I’m a shoe expert with 30+ pairs of shoes. Below, I’ll share some of my favorite tips on how to store shoes.
We’ll cover specific methods, facts about maintaining shoes and useful product categories.
Let’s start with…
Table of Contents
Separate Your Shoes into Categories
Shoes you don’t wear often need special shoe storage conditions. They’re more likely to collect dust, stand under direct sunlight or go through temperature swings.
This includes dress shoes, winter boots and other kinds of footwear. Shoes you do wear often tend to need less care in storage. You’re more likely to maintain them in good condition and dust-free.
Using shoe trees and a shoe rack, cabinet or bin is often enough. To make sure your shoes are getting enough care, separate them into “long-term” and “short-term” storage.
Use a Shoe Tree for Leather Shoes and Boots
Leather shoes crease and wrinkle with age. One reason is that they bend and flex in the same place repeatedly.
The other reason is that your feet stretch shoes out as you’re wearing them. Once the shoes are off, they return to their normal size – with wrinkles.
This is why you should fill leather shoes up with a shoe tree, even for overnight storage. They will maintain their shape, staying smooth and beautiful much longer.
For everyday shoes, an IKEA-type plastic shoe horn with a metal spring is enough. For long-term storage, you may want a heavy-duty cedar wood shoe true.
Alternatively, use the shoe storage idea below.
Stuff Shoes and Boots with Cloth or Acid-free Paper
Acid-free tissue paper is absorbent and will prevent a shoe from getting moist on the inside. It prevents mold, deformation and wrinkling. It can also help a shoe keep its shape – just like a shoe tree.
The trick is to make sure the whole shoe is nice and taut once you fill it up. Make sure the toe box doesn’t crumple under your fingers.
For tall boots, fill the shaft (the tall part) to prevent it from falling sideways. For very fine leather, muslin and microfibre are both good alternatives to tissue paper. They’re soft and absorbent too.
Use Sneaker Shields for Sneakers and Sports Shoes
With athletic footwear, the forefoot and toe areas are the most likely to wrinkle. To prevent this, buy a sneaker shield to fill up the toe box.
This will keep your sneakers and sports shoes crease-free, especially in the long-run. Patent leather shoes stand to benefit the most, as it’s hard to restore patent leather once it’s wrinkled.
Clean Shoes Before Storing Them Long-term
Small stains and pieces of dirt can get stuck to suede (including gum), work their way deep into the leather, etc. Other materials, like salt, can leave a chemical burn on your shoe – or shrink it.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to clean your shoes before storing them. Here’s how to clean suede shoes and leather shoes.
Remove Polish and Apply Conditioner Before Long-term Storage (Optional)
Wax-based polish products can dry out leather. If you’re going to store leather off season shoes and boots, you may want to remove that polish first. Afterwards, apply conditioner.
This will keep smooth leather from drying out and losing its coloration.
If you’re using colored shoe cream, you can apply conditioner immediately.
Replace a Rack with a Cabinet or Shoe Shelf
Shoe racks save floor space – but expose your shoe to moisture, sunlight and dust. This is okay for a day or two but bad for medium and long-term storage.
This is why I prefer wooden cabinets and shelves. A shelf offers some sunlight protection. Wooden cabinets, especially closed ones, also protect from dust, moisture and temperature changes.
Bag and Box Shoes for Long-term Storage
Putting shoes and boots in a shoe bag or box is a good idea. It protects footwear from dust, moisture and sunlight.
Another benefit of bags and boxes is that they protect your shoe’s upper from scuffs and scratches. Thick fabric shoe bags or a cardboard shoe box are best.
In addition to protecting your shoe collection, boxes are easy to stack. Clear boxes, e.g. IKEA’s, are a popular choice. They’re stackable and transparent; just store them in a dark place.
Use Silica Gel
Moisture can ruin leather. It can also make rubber soles on sneakers and sports shoes yellow. To prevent this, buy a few silica packets and throw them in your box or bag before storage.
Don’t use too much silica gel. This can dry the storage container out, making your shoes wrinkle and dry. 2-3 small bags per pair of shoes is fine.
Get a Shoe Tray
When you first get home, put your shoes in a shoe bin; not on the mudroom floor.
This will keep your floor clean. It’ll also make you a lot less likely to step on your shoes or trip over them by mistake.
Get a Hanging Shoe Organizer with Pockets
Hanging shoe organizers with pockets are a good way to store flat shoes. I’m talking flip flops, sandals, ballet flats, etc.
They don’t take up any closet space. They’re easy to attach to a closet door or wall. They save you loads of storage space and free up your rack or cabinet.
Get a Shoe Storage Solution
If you’ve run out of space for your shoes, get a specialized container or shoe cabinet. This can be a rack, a cabinet, a hanging organizer or something else.
The benefit to this is that you don’t take up space in your wardrobe, entryway or closet anymore.
Line up Tension Rods
Can’t or won’t spend money on shoe storage? Get a few tension rods and line them up inside a cupboard, walk-in closet or other storage unit.
Now use the rods to store your shoes. This is a good way to store shoes close to ceiling level.
Use Bottles and Tissue Paper for Tall Boots
Tall boots that keel over take up too much space. They can also scuff and wrinkle.
To prevent this, stuff a tall boot’s shaft with a bottle or tissue paper.
Manage Temperature and Moisture
You want to keep shoes away from extreme temperatures and moisture levels. This means no dry, wet, hot or cold conditions.
If you’re keeping your shoe collection indoors, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re planning to keep your shoes in a shed, attic, basement, etc – be careful.
Some materials can handle temperature and moisture better than others. For example, synthetic mesh sneakers in a plastic bag holds up better than fine dress shoe leather.
Use Free Spaces to Store Shoes
I store off season shoes under the bed using clear boxes from IKEA. This saves a lot of space.
You can also store shoes in the basement, in the attic, on balconies and anywhere else with free space.
Now let’s recap.
For short-term storage, use a shoe tree and keep your shoes in a shoe bin.
For medium-term storage, fill shoes up with shoe trees, cloth or paper. Keep in a cabinet, rack or closet. Wood racks are better than wire racks because they offer more protection from the sunlight.
If you’re storing shoes long-term, keep them boxed and bagged. Store them away from sunlight and moisture. Make sure they’re not exposed to extreme temperatures or temperature swings.