If you have given all your heart and soul to your favourite pair of shoes and just can’t part of them, THINK AGAIN!! You are just reviving your shoes from the dead whereas actually, they have already worn out. A lot of us may think there is no harm in wearing an old pair of shoes but it actually causes more harm than good.
The amount of protection and support that is expected from the shoe is GONE and DEAD!! If you are wearing it for the looks and style, you might end up compromising on your feet health and support. The age of the shoes not only depends on the quality but other factors like the type of shoes, how far and how often they have been used, etc.
Ideally, shoes last for 8-12 months after which it is recommended to change them. Running shoes may have a longer life span but eventually, their cushioning and support start wearing out. So how do you determine if your shoes have worn out?
We help you figure that out along with the ideal time of replacing them and some tips on how to increase the life span of your shoes to make them stay with you for longer.
- 1 How Long Should a Pair of Shoes Last?
- 2 Signs to Replace Your Shoes
- 3 How To Extend Life Of Your Shoes?
How Long Should a Pair of Shoes Last?
This is a very tough question to answer to this will solely depend on various factors like the use, material, quality, etc. Different types of shoes have different life spans, running shoes have the highest of all. We list out the various factors that will help you determine how long do shoes last:
Material and Type
The material is one of the most important factors to determine how long would a pair of shoes last. Shoes have evolved so much that they are available in various materials right from rubber to leather or even mesh.
While rubber is known to be very flexible, it is supposed to have been worn out once it loses flexion. Moreover, if the rubber outsole has worn out and looks all rugged and rubbed off, then it’s time you get them replaced to avoid slipping and save the embarrassment.
Leather is a material that is used in formal shoes and boots. While these shoes are not meant to be very flexible, if the leather has started to show cracks or if the shine of the leather has worn off and it is getting too many scratches, it is time to get them replaced. The lastingness solely depends upon the usage.
While leather shoes may last for a year or so, but if you maintain them, they can stay with you for a good 3+ years. Loafers last for a good 2 years which can be used for casual and semi-formal occasions.
Running Shoes that are usually made of rubber shoes last for a good 2 to 2.5 years or around 200-600 miles. In the case of shoes made of mesh material, they are beyond comfort as they are extremely lightweight. However, they are prone to tearing pretty easily and hence generally have a low lifespan with regards to the material.
Shoes that have a closed design are bound to last longer as they have all-round supported stitches in comparison to shoes that have straps or are open. Therefore, if you have owned a pair of open toes and a pair of shoes, you may want to see how long they last, for yourself. Open toes wear out or tear apart easily, within a few months, whereas closed and shoes with simplistic and complete designs would easily last for a year depending on the use and quality.
If you stay in a dry area, shoes are bound to last longer. If you stay in a rainy terrain or a snowy area, your shoes are prone to wearing out faster unless they are waterproof or are well coated for protection. Most brands and companies that claim to manufacture waterproof and weatherproof shoes don’t quite stand up to the expectations and hence wear out within a few months of use.
Age and Quality
Just as the material of the shoe is important, so is the age and quality. If you buy a high-quality pair of shoes, they are bound to last longer and grow comfortable with the age of the shoe. Cheap quality shoes not only feel uncomfortable but also wear out within a few months making them a useless purchase.
If you are using the same pair of shoes every day, chances are they will wear out easily. If you are using shoes for some heavy activity like running, jogging, or exercising, then they are wearing out sooner than your normal or casual pair of shoes. Your style of walking also determines the lifespan.
If you drag your feet and walk, you know you are wearing them out already, if your feet constantly hit against something, the shoes may wear off, if you slipping them on and off your feet, you are spoiling the cushioning and soft collared area of the shoes.
One has to be very particular about using them delicately and carefully. Treat your shoes like your babies if you want to eventually increase their lifespan!!
Signs to Replace Your Shoes
Just like any other food item has a shelf life of its own, so do a pair of shoes. Even if they seem perfectly fine, they wear out eventually with daily use which is not very healthy for your feet. Therefore, we help you to look out for some signs in your shoes and determine the right time to replace them. before it’s too late.
Upper & Inner Material
One of the easiest ways to determine that your shoes have worn out is to check the upper and inner material for any holes or damage. Check the material for any wear out by placing the shoes at eye level on a flat surface and then seeing if the fabric has any bends or distortion in shape.
If it has bent or does not retain its original flat shape anymore, which means, it does not support the upper portion of your feet, and it’s time to replace them. If they have developed holes, or if the material has faded or looks moldy, then you must wait for no further to replace your shoes. Any unusual holes in any area of the shoe are neither good for the shoe nor your feet.
Ideally, with regular use, shoes must last for 6-8 months. Hence it is advisable to have an overall look at your shoe after every 6 months. If all seems fine, you can stretch using them for a longer time until they start showing signs.
The main function of the midsole is to provide a good bounce while walking or heavy activity and providing excellent shock absorbance. Over time, the midsole loses its stability and the ability to bounce back is reduced during activity.
The midsole begins to compress and there are creases visible on its surface. If there is excessive creasing on the surface, then it’s time to replace the shoes. They do not feel very soft and cushioned either and are not quite shock absorbing as new.
The outsoles tend to wear out most easily as it comes in most contact with the ground. Usually, the section around the heels and the ball of the foot are subject to wear out easily as most of the feet pressure is applied in those areas. Place your shoes at eye level on a flat surface.
Well maintained shoes should not ideally lug or rock towards any direction. If the shoes lug or rock towards the front or back, then it’s time you get them replaced. Alternatively, if there is any other section of the outsole apart from the heel and ball of foot region that has also worn out, it is time you get the shoes replaced.
Loss of Cushioning
Ideally, cushioning is not known to be a very effective tool for supporting your feet, but the loss of cushioning is not good either. It just reduces the sensation of heavy impact on your feet keeping you away from the feeling of sudden pain or shock after intense activity. Having said that, if your shoe has lost the cushioning and comfortable softness, then it’s time you get them replaced.
Cushioning also protects your feet from pronation, shoe bites and supports the feet by not making the shoes feel hard on your feet. It allows you to stand for long hours at work. So if you have started to feel uncomfortable and see that the cushioned areas have started to come apart, maybe it’s time that you get the shoes replaced as the shoes have lost their level of comfort.
Sudden Foot Fatigue
If your feet start feeling tired and fatigued after excessive walking or activity, if you get frequent pains, muscle soreness, shin splints, ankle pain, or pain in your joints, then it’s time you get the shoes replaced.
This is because the shoes lose their cushioning and are not capable of bouncing or giving the same amount of energy back to the feet. If it gets worse and you get pain in both legs instead of one, then you need to get them replaced immediately. If the shoes are brand new and you are getting frequent pains and feeling uncomfortable, then you may want to consult a doctor to get the right pair of shoes as per your feet.
High mileage is especially applicable for running shoes. You can calculate the distance that your shoes have covered based on the miles you run per day. If it is difficult for you to calculate, note the date when you first started wearing the shoes and count the miles you run per week. Ideally, shoes should last for at least 600 miles on average which takes around 6-8 months.
This is subject to vary based on your levels of activity and how frequently you use the shoes. If you are running on rough terrains and surfaces, then you may have to replace your shoes sooner.
How To Extend Life Of Your Shoes?
While the lifespan of your shoes depends on various aspects like their usage and quality, you can certainly contribute to increasing their lifespan by taking good care of them. We suggest some great tips to make your shoes last longer and live better with you.
Do not use the same pair of shoes every time and keep a spare set of shoes for every purpose. You must have a minimum of two pairs of casual shoes and sports shoes or formal footwear and wear them based on the occasion. In those ways, you can increase the lifespan of each shoe without having to dispose of them soon.
Rotate and wear the shoes, do not use the same set for gardening, running, and casual outings as well. Keep a spare set for each purpose, that will help you increase the life of your shoes.
Use A Disinfectant Spray
Certain shoes that are made of leather or other fabric is prone to developing fungus or bacteria or even breed cockroaches and other insects if left unused and uncared for. Make sure to use a disinfectant spray on your shoes regularly to prevent the material from deteriorating and keeping your feet safe from insects and pests.
Allow them to dry
Excessive sweat and moisture are not good for all types of shoes, especially leather and rubber shoes. The material may start to shrink or deteriorate. Therefore, if the shoes have come in contact with any such watery surface or sweat, make sure to dry them well with a hairdryer or allow them to soak under the sun for a few days before they are ready for use again. Do not keep your shoes on damp surfaces for them to stay longer.
Sometimes, it’s not the entire shoe but just the insoles that have deteriorated. Try replacing the insoles once every few months. You can also customize the type of insoles based on your feet shape and condition. There are specific supportive insoles available based on your feet deformities and conditions. This can help the shoes last longer and help you save money on buying a new pair of shoes altogether.
Follow Shoe Care Tips
If you decide to maintain your shoes and take good care of them, you can extend their life span by a few months. But how do you do that? We guide you:
Use shoe trees
Shoe trees are like tese wooden constructs that are inserted within the shoe to keep them in shape. Not just that, shoe trees also help in absorbing moisture and combating odor keeping your shoes fresh and dry for use. If you don’t have a shoe tree at dispense, use a newspaper as an alternative. Stuff in loads of newspaper to remove moisture and keep the shoes in shape.
Use dust bags
Dust bags are great for storage and packaging purposes. It keeps your shoes off dust and scratches and prevents shoes from dirtying your other luggage when you are carrying the shoes anywhere. Certain shoes come with dust bags for storage which makes it fairly easy to store, maintain and carry as well as protect them.
Use shoe horns
Sometimes, our shoes start wearing off only because we don’t use or wear them properly. The collars and edges of the shoes are ill-treated by our feet and fingers to an extent that it starts wearing out and tearing apart.
Don’t try to push your feet in, instead use shoe horns that allow your feet to slip in very easily. Place the shoehorn at the edge, and slowly push your feet in. While removing the shoes, make sure to pull them from the heel section and do not insert your fingers to remove them.
Shine your shoes regularly
For your shoes to look as great as new, make sure you polish them regularly. For which:
- Remove the laces for a smooth polishing experience
- Place a shoe tree for stability while polishing
- Wipe the shoes with a cloth first
- Apply shoe polish and allow it to dry for 15-20 mins
- Use a brush after drying to evenly distribute the shoe polish
- Use a soft cloth to wipe off excess polish
- Use a few drops of water for spit shine on the shoes
Buy better quality shoes
If you want your shoes to last longer, the best solution is to buy better quality shoes. Investing in a higher quality might be costlier but it is worth it when the shoes stay with you for years together. Look for full-grain leather shoes with stitched soles and replaceable insoles to have an increased lifespan of the shoes.
The bottom line
You want to make sure that you make good use of your favourite pair of shoes. But not at the cost of your feet’s health and safety. There are shoes that can last for years together whereas there are some that wear out within a few months of use.
It all depends upon the quality, design, use, etc. However, it is best advised to use any kind of shoes for a 6-8 months, and if possible, up to a year. Beyond which, shoes tend to lose its shape and the support that they are intended to provide which reduces their quality and ability to protect your feet.
We help you determine some signs in your shoes and when it’s time to replace them along with some tips on how to extend the lifespan of your shoes. Read our tips above and tell us if they could help you protect your shoes and make them last longer through the comments section below.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.