As much as you want to stay in your cozy work-from-home setup and just wear sweatpants and fuzzy slippers all day, the reality is that you are probably heading back to the workplace soon.
That means having to wear shoes or heels on a daily basis again. It doesn’t sound daunting, but if you have gotten used to just wearing socks for the majority of your time in quarantine, having to wear some kind of footwear all day is going to feel different.
You also have to worry about keeping your footwear looking crisp and clean. If you haven’t been wearing your work shoes often, they’re most likely covered in dust.
This transition maybe easier for some than for others, but regardless if you’re ready or not, here is a comprehensive guide to get you back on your feet when you’re back at the office.
Dust Off and Clean Your Footwear
This one seems like a no-brainer, but some folks overlook this step.
Before you head back to your workplace, make sure that you clean your shoes or heels. Even if they’ve been in your closet during the pandemic, they will have accumulated some dust or stayed dirty from the last time you wore them.
Cleaning and Conditioning Leather Footwear (Not Patent Leather)
If you’re dealing with leather shoes, loafers, boots or heels, grab a shoe brush with soft bristles to gently remove dust and debris. We like using the FootFitter Signature Regular Shoe Shine Brush for this job as it has densely-packed and tightly-stitched horsehair bristles that will not scuff your footwear.
For dress shoes and boots, don’t forget to dust the tongue of your footwear. This area is prone to accumulating lots of dirt and grime.
After you’ve dusted your shoes off, check to see if they need to be cleaned or polished.
Lightly dampen one of our ultrasoft microfiber cloths with water and wipe off any lingering debris. If the stain is more stubborn, use your favorite leather cleaner. Once your footwear is clean, it’s ready for polishing cream.
We like using FootFitter Premium Shoe Cream Polish for this job, as it hydrates the leather and protects the surface. Remember to select the correct shade of cream for your shoe. If you are between shades, pick the lighter color for a lighter finish or the darker color for a darker finish.
Either using your fingers, a dauber or a microfiber cloth, apply small dabs of shoe cream to your shoe. Work in the product using a circular motion.
Less is more — you don’t want a thick layer of cream on your shoes. You want just enough to create a thin layer around the shoe.
After the cream has been evenly applied, give it at least 5 minutes to dry. You want to let the product soak into the leather before blending it with a shine brush.
Once the cream is dry, take your shine brush and brush your footwear using firm pressure. The friction caused by the brushing will blend the cream into a uniform layer and give the leather its shine.
Grab a clean, dry microfiber cloth and lightly wipe down your footwear. This will remove any excess cream that the leather did not absorb. We suggest wiping down your shoes twice — you’ll be surprised with how much cream is not absorbed into the leather.
At this point, your shoes are ready to be worn. If you wear the same leather footwear on a daily basis, be sure to clean them in about a month or two. Or if you only wear them on special occasions, you might only need to clean your footwear once or twice a year.
Polishing Leather Footwear (Optional)
If you want to add another layer of protection or really want your leather footwear to shine, use FootFitter Shoe Polish with Carnauba and Beeswax.
Grab the shoe polish color that best matches your shoes and apply the wax with either your fingers or a microfiber cloth.
When you have a thin layer of wax on the shoe, buff it out with the FootFitter Traditional Buffing Microfiber Cloth. The pile of this fabric is much lower than what is found on our ultrasoft cloth.
PRO TIP: Yuya Hasegawa, a world champion shoe shiner and founder of Brift H Shoe Lounge in Japan, likes to buff out the wax with a slightly damp cloth. It gives the shoe a highly-polished finish.
Cleaning Patent Leather Footwear
Keeping your patent leather shoes or heels clean is rather easy to do, thanks to its high-gloss finish. Just dampen (not soak) a clean ultrasoft microfiber cloth and wipe away any dirt and debris. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to dry your shoes afterward.
You can also opt to use a patent leather cleaner to give it a shinier finish or to remove more stubborn stains.
Because it’s easy to scuff patent leather, always use a microfiber cloth to avoid any scratches.
Cleaning Suede and Nubuck Footwear
Depending on how dirty the shoes are, suede and nubuck footwear requires specialized tools to keep the material clean.
For general cleaning, we like using the FootFitter Suede-Nubuck Nylon Cleaning Brush. The nylon bristles are stiff, but soft enough to wipe away dirt without unnecessarily scuffing the fabric.
To clean your shoes with a nylon brush, brush in one direction, ideally with the grain of the suede. Afterward, lightly brush the material in both directions to revive the nap of the suede or nubuck.
Tougher stains and grime require equally tougher tools. Use the FootFitter Large Crepe Brush for deep-set debris. The sticky rubber will help remove the stain without causing damage.
If the dirt is really caked into the suede, use a brush with brass bristles, like this one, to remove the stain. Carefully brush the trouble spot with the brass brush until the stain is gone. Then use a nylon brush to revive the nap of the suede or nubuck.
We also offer the FootFitter Suede and Nubuck Leather 4-Way Shoe Cleaner Brush and the FootFitter Professional 4-Way Suede and Nubuck Cleaner for when you need to take your shoe cleaning on the road.
Cleaning Sneakers (Canvas or Multi-Material)
If you’re fortunate enough to wear sneakers to work, you should make sure they look crisp, especially if they’re high-end or rare sneakers.
Our friends at X Sneaker Care have great products — soaps, repellents and brushes — to keep your shoes clean.
Check out their sneaker care guides to see how to clean your specific shoes.
Make Sure Your Footwear is Comfortable
If you have to be on your feet all day or if you do a lot of walking around the workplace, make sure that your footwear will be comfy enough to wear all day long.
Break In Your Footwear with a Shoe Stretcher
When you’re done cleaning your shoes, it’s time to make sure they’re still comfortable to wear for long periods of time. If your insoles are worn out, now would be a good time to find some new ones.
If you bought yourself a new pair of shoes or heels, use a shoe stretcher to break them in. Our shoe stretching kits will get any snug-fitting footwear feeling looser, making them more comfortable for everyday use.
You can also use spot-stretching plugs to make more room for your toes. This helps to avoid or alleviate foot ailments, such as bunions, corns or hammer toe.
Here is our detailed guide on how to stretch your shoes with a shoe stretcher (and other DIY methods).
Use Heel Caps to Provide More Stability
Wearing high heels to work is an easy way to add class and sophistication to your outfit, but sometimes they can be a pain to walk in, especially if you’re wearing stilettos or shoes with thin heels.
To give your spikier heels more stability, we recommend using a pair of our heel caps. Available in black, nude or clear, heel caps provide more grip to the bottom of the heel tip. Additionally, it helps dampen the clicking sound when you walk.
Add Heel Grips to Minimize Heel Rub
A great way to minimize heel chaffing and blisters is by adding heel grips to your shoes. The comfy padding, covered in suede, enhances the comfort of your heels while also keeping your foot in place.
Make sure to also keep your feet hydrated to reduce the likelihood of blisters.
Maintain the Shape of Your Footwear and Keep Them Fresh
Now that you’ve cleaned and stretched your shoes, it’s time to keep them looking good and odor-free when you’re not wearing them.
That’s where shoe trees come in. Our cedar, plastic and foam shoe trees — which are available for dress shoes, heels and boots — maintain the shape of your footwear when they’re being stored.
We especially like using our cedar shoe trees because they also absorb any funky odors and moisture your feet leave behind.
Just place an appropriately-sized shoe tree in your shoes, heels or boots after you’ve worn them and take them out when you’re ready to wear your footwear.
PRO TIP: You can also use shoe trees for your favorite sneakers!