How to Remove Creases from Shoes

How to Remove Creases from Shoes

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your favorite shoes can develop unsightly creases and wrinkles. Different types of shoes can be more or less likely to develop these wear lines, whether they’re from improper storage, a walking quirk, or otherwise. If you wait too long to address these creases, you might end up with a permanent mark in your shoe that can no longer go away.

As such, it’s essential to know how to remove creases from shoes early on, rather than waiting for them to work themselves into the material. In this guide, we’ll teach you the most effective ways to remove creases from shoes, and how each method works with different shoe materials.

Why Do Shoes Crease?

Because of the way our feet bend, any shoes that are prone to wrinkles tend to develop them around the ball of the foot, where our toes meet our feet. While our skin is continually being rejuvenated and replaced by new cells, shoes, on the other hand, are not. As such, over time, the material of our shoes will wear out and age.

However, there are some situations where shoes will age faster than others. Shoes that don’t fit well, for example, are more likely to bend and wrinkle in unintended places. Some shoe materials are also more prone to wrinkling than others; leather, for example, tends to wrinkle and age over time, while cloth wears and tears as it ages.

How to Remove Creases from Shoes

Leather is made from the skin of animals, so like human skin, it can wrinkle, too. While leather will invariably develop wrinkles and blemishes over time, there are a few ways for how to remove creases from shoes that will slow their development and even help repair them. Believe it or not, the best way to do this is with an iron! An iron can get wrinkles out of your clothes, so why not your shoes?

How to Remove Creases from Shoes
How to Remove Creases from Shoes

If you’re wondering how to remove creases from shoes with an iron, do the following:

  • Stuff your shoes with newspaper or washcloths until they maintain their shape
  • Remove any laces from the shoes
  • Fill your iron with water and set it to between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit
  • Place a dripping wet washcloth over the wrinkles on the shoe
  • Iron over the washcloth (and the lines) gently
  • Leave the washcloth on the shoes to cool, then let the shoes dry

This method works very well for sneakers and some leather shoes, but don’t use it on suede shoes. Try not to use it repeatedly on your shoes, either, as excessive heat and moisture always have the chance of damaging your leather shoes. If you have access to a steamer, this will work even better, since a steaming machine will hug the shape of your leather shoes better than an iron.

If you don’t have access to an iron or steamer, you can get a similar effect with a hairdryer or heat gun.  However, this method must be done very carefully, as too much heat can cause the leather to burn or even lose its shape.

For this method, you will need a shoe tree that can help the leather shoe keep its shape. Hold your blow dryer or heat gun away from the footwear – it needs to be close enough to heat them, yet far enough away to prevent damage. Move the heat gun or hairdryer back and forth over the wrinkled area until it becomes warm and supple. Massage the wrinkles as you work to help your shoes regain their old shape.

When your shoes cool, use a leather conditioner to restore any lost finishes on your shoes. Also, keep in mind that heat can darken lighter leather shoes, so this method may only be appropriate for dark leather shoes.

If you don’t want to expose your leather shoes to any heat sources, some creases may be massaged out with a leather conditioner or oil. While this won’t work on older, set-in creases, it should do wonders for new ones, and it will help prevent the formation of new wrinkles, too.

If you’re wondering how to remove creases from shoes with leather oil or conditioner, do the following:

  • Place your leather shoes on a shoe tree
  • Massage out any new wrinkles or blemishes with the leather oil
  • It’s a good idea to go over any other areas prone to wrinkling until they feel supple and flexible, too. This will make it more difficult for future wrinkles to form on your shoes.

A solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part water will have much the same effect as a leather conditioner on shoes. It will make the leather more supple and flexible, allowing you to reshape the boots and remove old wrinkles, but it may dry them in the process, too. If you decide to use this method, make sure to rehydrate your leather shoes with some conditioning oil after reshaping them.

For this method, spray your alcohol-water solution onto the wrinkled area of your shoes, massaging it in until the shoes become supple. Then, leave them on your shoe tree to regain their original shape.

Preventing Creases in Shoes

Preventing creases in shoes is much easier than treating them, but each fabric type requires some different techniques to avoid creasing and other wear and tear on the footwear. In this section, we’ll teach you some of the best ways to prevent damaging creases in your shoes based on their material type.

As we mentioned before, leather is made from the skin of animals. As such, it needs to stay supple and moisturized if you want to keep it crease-free. Keeping your leather shoes healthy with leather conditioner or oil is an excellent way to keep wrinkles at bay, and leaving them on a shoe tree when not in use is a great way to keep them looking their best, too.

The steps you should take to preserve non-leather shoes are similar, but not identical. Instead of oil or conditioner, protect suede or canvas shoes with fabric-protecting spray. Leaving your shoes on a shoe tree after treating them is a great way to stretch out wrinkles and restore the original shape of the boots.

You can use steam to gently restore the shape of canvas and suede shoes, too. While we don’t advise ironing them with the leather shoe technique we mentioned before, try holding them over the steam from a tea kettle until they become warm and damp to the touch. Then, place them on a shoe tree to regain their shape. The shoe tree will re-stretch the wrinkled areas of the shoes.

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Caring for Leather Shoes

While certain kinds of cloth or suede shoes can also be prone to wrinkling, leather shoes are the shoe type that’s most likely to wrinkle from routine use. Of course, it always depends on the shoe material, what conditions you keep it in, and the age of the shoe itself, but it stands that leather shoes are the most prone to developing creases and wrinkles in high-stress areas.

Caring for Leather Shoes
Caring for Leather Shoes

However, we should also note that leather is a robust and resilient material. With proper care, your leather shoes can last for decades before they wear out along their wrinkle lines. In any case, a few age-related wrinkles on a good pair of leather shoes is a sign of character!

If you take proper preventative steps to keep your leather shoes supple and robust, you’ll see them last many years into the future. We’ll go over just how to do this in this section.

1. Cleaning Leather Shoes

As with any other shoe, leather shoes can be prone to the buildup of dirt, grime, and even mold, especially in wrinkles and crease lines. However, the difference between leather shoes and other types of footwear is that leather should only be cleaned with special cleansers.

Once you’ve removed all of the outstanding dirt from your leather shoes, use a good brand of leather cleaner on them to keep them looking their best. Use a soft cloth or leather-cleaning brush to rub the detergent into the shoes. Saddle soap and oil soap are perfectly acceptable cleaning agents for leather, too.

For suede shoes, be very careful to use cleaners meant for leather only. Finished (or smooth) leather can handle cleanings with other agents, such as gentle laundry detergents, but it’s always better to use a leather-friendly soap on your expensive shoes if possible. Be cautious when using sponges to clean your leather shoes, as some sponges can contain chemical residues from the manufacturing process that might damage your footwear.

If your leather shoes are covered in more stubborn salt stains, tackle them with a mixture of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar. However, be aware that this method will remove any sealing wax from your shoes, too, so you will need to retreat them afterward if you regularly wax your leather shoes.

Once you’ve cleaned your leather shoes, leave them to dry thoroughly before doing anything else with them. If possible, drying them on a shoe tree is best, but stuffing them with newspapers or cloths is a viable alternative.

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2. Protecting Your Leather Shoes

Like we mentioned before, caring for leather doesn’t just end after you wash them. Leather is a unique, animal-borne material that, while luxurious and sturdy, requires upkeep to keep its resilience. Leather fares best with additional treatments in addition to occasional washing, such as:

  • Waterproofing
  • Conditioning
  • Oiling
  • Waxing

We recommend conditioning your leather shoes once every twenty-five uses. You can do this with a leather conditioner or saddle oil. Leather conditioner or leather oil helps to keep the material hydrated and healthy, as the leather can dry and crack over time without it.

Think of the skin on your hands and feet. While it can survive without any extra care, your skin is more soft and supple when you moisturize it with lotion regularly. The same goes for leather, though we don’t recommend using lotion on it!

When using leather oil or conditioner, always use it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Generally, you will be asked to massage it into the leather in a gentle circular motion with a clean cloth. If your weather conditions are harsh, your shoes may do better with more frequent conditioning.

Once you’ve infused your leather shoes with vitality by oiling or conditioning them, it’s time to protect them from the elements. You can use many different solutions to protect your leather shoes, including:

  • Beeswax
  • Shoe polish
  • Wax-based polish
  • Waterproofing spray

For shoe polish, choose a polish color that matches your shoe as closely as possible, then apply it in gentle, light circles with a horsehair brush or soft cloth. If your shoe polish contains wax, it will offer even more protection to the shoe.

If you prefer, you can also use pure beeswax to protect your shoes, as people have done for decades. Wax requires a bit more work, but it’s an excellent natural way to protect your shoes, and you won’t need to pick a shade that matches your shoes, either – just use the pure, clear wax.

If you’re using beeswax-based shoe polish, it should go on smoothly and in thin layers. However, if you’re using plain beeswax, it will likely go on thickly and unsightly. You will need to re-melt plain wax at least once after applying it to your shoes, so if that sounds like too much for you, then opt for a beeswax-based shoe polish instead.

If you’re looking for a low-effort solution, you can buy waterproofing sprays that are designed explicitly to weatherproof leather shoes. These sprays won’t be as durable, so you will need to reapply them more frequently, but they’ll leave a more subtle finish and are much more accessible than pure wax or wax polish.

3. Maintaining Your Leather Shoes

Leather shoes require a bit more maintenance than your average footwear, but this maintenance arguably comes back in the beauty and integrity of the shoes as the years go by. As long as you follow a few care and storage tips, your beautiful leather shoes will last many, many years.

To begin, even though you’ve protected your leather shoes from the elements, try to avoid wearing them in inclement weather and wet conditions. If you absolutely must wear them outside in the rain and snow, invest in reusable galoshes that fit over your leather shoes. These are an excellent removable option that will keep moisture and salt off of your leather shoes without your needing to carry them to work.

Once you’ve gotten home, make sure to place your leather shoes on a shoe tree, too. A shoe tree is a device meant to maintain the shape of your shoes when they’re not on your feet. As a material, leather is particularly prone to wrinkling, stretching, and otherwise deforming, so leaving them on a shoe tree after daily use is an excellent way to put off the onset of wear and tear.

The next best thing to placing your leather shoes on a shoe tree is to give them a break! A night spent off your feet is generally not enough time for a pair of shoes to thoroughly dry out. As such, rotating between several different pairs of shoes is much better for your shoes’ (and your feet’s) health.

If you can, try leaving your leather work shoes at work after a long day and wearing a different pair of shoe home. Not only will this protect your expensive leather dress shoes from exposure to the elements, but it’ll give them more time to rest and “breathe” between uses, too. Believe it or not, the best way to avoid stinky shoes (and feet) is to let your shoes rest between uses.

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4. Storing Leather Shoes

If you’re planning to put your leather boots or shoes away for the season, there are a few things you should always do before storing them that will keep them more beautiful for longer. For one, always make sure to wash (and dry) your leather shoes thoroughly before storing them. If you allow them to sit in storage covered in dirt and stains, those stains will be twice as difficult to remove when you next wear them.

Secondly, always store your leather shoes in a breathable cloth bag. Generally, the shoebox that your shoes came in is not breathable enough for leather shoes. Never store them while damp, either, as this can result in moldy shoes when next you take them out!

All in all, the science behind de-creasing shoes is quite natural if you think about it. Wear shoes that fit correctly, store them well, and keep the fibers of the shoe supple, healthy, and protected. Even if you do all three of these things, your shoes won’t last forever, but they’ll thrive for a great deal longer than they would without any preventative care. And, if you need to, you can always take a few extra steps to remove any creases that have already formed with the tips in this guide.