Cleaning used shoes


These Naturalizers were purchased for a tenth of their original price and completed the sort-of-silly/sort-of-vintage outfit I wore when we rode the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.

It often happens that someone buys a good-looking pair of shoes – maybe because they’re on sale or maybe because they’re going to a shindig and have to have black pumps right this minute – and later on, after maybe just one or two wearings, they decide these shoes are not for them. The heel is too high or they pinch in the toe or rub the heel or whatever. With a sigh they list them on eBay or toss them in the thrift store pile.

And then I find them.

They’re as good as new, right? They appear clean, smell fine, fit nicely. But I can never get over the fact that some stranger crammed their probably bare, possibly filthy foot into this piece of leather. No shoe is so pretty or cheap that I will risk athlete’s foot to wear it.

Many an online source recommends pouring anywhere from one cup each to a whole bottle of rubbing alcohol into used shoes before wearing them. Is it just me or does that sound like crazy talk? A good pair of real leather shoes is built to withstand the moisture from foot sweat and the occasional mud-puddle crossing, but I doubt that full immersion in any liquid (let alone a solvent like isopropyl alcohol) is what the manufacturers of the shoe or the shoe’s glue had in mind.

What I do, which has worked thus far, is to soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and thoroughly rub all interior surfaces of the shoe (one cotton ball per shoe) and then let it dry before I wear them. I’m confident that this is enough to kill most any common foot germ that might be lurking in my otherwise lovely new heels.

— Amanda


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