Even when new, leather shoes are vulnerable to different kinds of damage like dry rot. What most people do not know is that unused or unworn shoes break down, particularly when stored incorrectly. This breakdown is typically accelerated by external factors like moisture and heat within the storing environment. In this post, you will discover how to keep shoes from dry rotting. But first, you need to know what dry rot is as well as the causes.
Dry Rot in Shoes – What is it?
A fungus referred to as Serpula lacrymans is the causative agent of dry rot in shoes. This fungal attack typically occurs when sweat or other forms of moisture gets trapped inside your leather shoes. This trapped moisture creates a favorable environment for the growth of the fungi. One way to spot dry rot is the appearance of the whitish powdery color on the shoes.
Conditions that can lead to Dry Rot
- Shoes that are not properly maintained using conditioners and oils
- Shoes with low quality leather uppers
- Trapped moisture inside a leather shoe
- Leather shoes that are stored within high humid spaces
See also: How Often Should You Replace Work Shoes?
Top Tips to Keep Shoes from Dry Rotting
Buy Shoes Made from first-rate Materials
When shopping for shoes, you should get ones that are made with first-rate materials. This is because low-quality shoes typically do not last long even if you rarely wear them. Fake leather breaks down much quicker compared to real leather. If you know you will rarely wear your shoes as you plan to wear them only to special events, be sure to select only top-quality shoes. But always remember that high quality does not necessarily mean a high price.
Avoid storing your shoes in Humid Areas
One good way to prevent Serpula lacrymans (the dry rot fungi) from attacking your shoes is by storing them in the best possible conditions. A humid attic or basement is not a good place to store your leather shoes. Store them within a cool and low humidity environment such as a closet.
Use Shoe Racks
Once you have selected a good place to store your leather shoes, it is recommended you use shoe racks to hold them. This is because shoe racks are designed to allow adequate airflow between shoes. Additionally, they come in various designs to suit the needs of various individuals.
The most reliable shoe racks are made using first-rate wood materials like oakwood and Sheesham wood. You should stay away from shoe racks made of plastic because they obstruct good air circulation between the stored shoes. Furthermore, the plastic material obstructs the breathability of the leather, which might cause the moisture to be trapped within the leather. This ultimately results in fungal growth and eventually, the shoes begin to dry rot.
Use Shoe Trees
Cedar shoe trees are also a fantastic choice for storing leather shoes long-term. Aside from having excellent deodorant and anti-bacterial qualities, cedar works great at absorbing moisture from the air. Therefore, cedar shoe trees will help prevent fungal growth as well as keep your shoes smelling nice at all times.
If cedar or other quality shoe trees are not readily available to you, desiccants are a great alternative for keeping moisture out. Get some silica gels and place them within the area where your shoes are stored. The silica gels will soak up the moisture air.
If you operate on a tight budget, another great alternative is to crumple up some old newspapers and stuff them within your shoes. This will help keep your shoes in shape as well as soak up moisture from the surrounding air.
Polish and Condition your leather Shoes Regularly
The leather used in shoe manufacture has some oil in it. You may have observed that new leather shoes usually have a plush texture and that this soft texture declines with age. This occurs because storing leather shoes for extended periods causes the oil within the leather to evaporate. As the leather dries up, the fibers break down leading to the total disintegration of the footwear.
See also: How to Protect White Leather Shoes
This is why you need to regularly apply oils or shoe polish to your shoes. The polish helps to lock in the oil within the leather. Always remember that dry rot is not caused by not wearing your shoes. Shoes break down mostly because they are not well maintained.