As much as you love your shoe collection, it might not be feasible to keep all those shoes in your closet. Whether it’s because of space constraints, a transition to a new home, a new job opportunity, or an extended deployment, you need to know how to store shoes long term in a way that protects them. Maybe you have figured out which shoes you actually use — like your everyday shoe options for work, favorite pair of sneakers, athletic shoes for your workouts, and now you are trying to conserve closet space. The rest of your shoes can easily be put into storage.

We’ve outlined some helpful tips which will keep your shoes clean and ready to wear whenever you need them again. Proper personal storage is one of the best ways to preserve shoes. Though some of these steps may take a bit of time, they will help you avoid the most common mistakes people make when storing their shoes for long periods of time. 

Clean and Condition Your Shoes

Proper shoe storage begins with clean shoes. Before you put your shoes into long-term storage, be sure to clean them and use proper shoe care. At a minimum wipe down your shoes or clean them off with a brush. Be sure to remove any visible soiling or debris. If cleaning with a wet cloth, allow your shoes to completely dry before storing or conditioning.

Conditioning isn’t required for all shoe types, but for leather boots and dress shoes, it is a must. After thoroughly brushing or cleaning off your shoes and allowing them to dry, remove your laces. Using a clean rag, apply a light coat of leather conditioner to your shoes. Allow the shoes to dry overnight and wipe off any excess conditioner. Give your shoes a final brush before replacing your laces and preparing to pack them. Suede shoes should be cleaned similarly, but just make sure your conditioner is safe for use on suede. 

Use a Shoe Tree or Stuff With Acid-Free Tissue Paper

If you have high-quality boots or shoes you should already be using a cedar shoe tree on a daily basis. Shoe trees provide two useful functions that will extend the life of your shoes during storage. 

First, shoe trees absorb moisture. You’d be surprised at how much moisture accumulates from sweat when you wear your shoes. By absorbing moisture, the shoe tree helps prevent your shoes from smelling and protects leather insoles from cracking as they dry and contract. If made of cedar, your shoe trees also fulfill an antimicrobial function which will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when you pull them out of the shoe storage.

Second, shoe trees will help your shoes and boots maintain their shape during storage. Leather shoes will curl and shrink as the leather dries and contracts, and can even be susceptible to dry rotting. Shoe trees will ensure your shoes maintain their shape and feel, and look as good as the day you put them into self storage

For shoes where shoe trees aren’t appropriate, consider stuffing your shoes with acid-free tissue paper or packing paper. This will help your shoes maintain their shape while they are in storage. Then purchase a shoe organizer like a shoe rack or shoe cabinet — this will help with the overall organization of the storage space.

Bag Your Shoes

Place your shoes in a shoe bag before you place them into their storage container. A shoe bag helps protect shoes from damage while they are in storage. If you’ve never used one before, shoe bags are an individual bag for each shoe. The bag protects shoes from becoming scuffed from the sole or leather of the other shoe in a pair, or from color transfer from patent leathers. Flannel bags are highly touted as the best option, but even other materials (like a plastic bag) will at a minimum protect your shoes from damaging one another while in their storage box.

Box Your Shoes

Place each pair of shoes in its own shoe box. Ideally, this will be in the shoe box your shoes came in when you purchased them. Original boxes fit your shoes, save you money, and allow for adequate air circulation. Storing shoes in boxes also allows you to stack them without worrying about damaging the shoes, and it will be easier to identify their contents when they are in storage.

The use of plastic containers or boxes for shoe storage is somewhat controversial. If the plastic bin is sealed and moisture is in your shoes or the container, it can allow mold or mildew to grow while they are in storage. If you choose to store your shoes in a plastic bin, choose containers with ventilation at the top. Be sure to thoroughly clean out the container prior to storage, and allow the container to fully dry before you place your shoes inside.

Consider Climate Control

Your biggest enemy when storing shoes for long periods of time is moisture. Moisture will cause the leather to expand, then contract and crack as the shoe dries. Warm, humid environments are ideal spaces for the growth of mold, mildew, and dry rotting. If you are looking into how to store shoes for long term, you might consider using a climate-controlled storage unit.

At Price Self Storage, we offer climate-controlled units at a few of our locations across California, including our locations at Haven Avenue and Arrow Route

Watch Out For:

  • Heat damage. If your shoes are exposed to an intense amount of heat, they will quickly become brittle and damaged. Your shoes may even be at risk of falling apart due to any glue that melts away from the heat. To avoid this from happening, don’t store your shoes in a garage or attic where there is low insulation.
  • Pests. Storing your shoes in cardboard boxes may be the perfect invitation for little rodents to chew right through it for their nests. If you see any chew marks or droppings in the storage unit, consider getting plastic bins to ensure absolute protection of your shoes. 
  • Mildew. To avoid any mildew growth within your shoes, be sure to put silica gel packets inside prior to storing them. 

Closing Thoughts

Shoes in storage can be damaged by moisture, scuffed against other shoes, or loose their shape due to lack of support. Clean your shoes and allow them to fully dry before placing them into storage. If you have leather shoes, condition them with an appropriate shoe conditioner. Place a shoe tree in each shoe to give it support, or stuff it with acid-free tissue paper if a shoe tree is not appropriate for that type of shoe.

To store your shoes, place them in individual shoe bags and place those bags in the shoe box your shoes came in. If you choose to store your shoes in a plastic box, don’t store more than one pair per container. Also, be sure to use plastic containers with adequate ventilation.

The best way to preserve your footwear for long term storage is to store it in a climate-controlled storage unit where you can limit fluctuations in humidity. A few of our Price Self Storage facilities across California offer climate control on select units, so please contact us today if you are interested in a climate-controlled unit. 

By following these simple storage unit tips, your stored shoes will be ready to wear when you need them! Once you start to declutter your life by putting your shoes in storage, you might want to partake in a whole-house declutter and put some of your clothes in storage too. And what’s the best way to store clothes? In a storage unit, of course! Our types of storage units will become an extension of your home– a place to store all of your belongings, leaving you with a clutter-free home and easy access to your items when needed.

To ensure you find the right storage unit for your needs, refer to our storage unit size guide. If you have any additional questions, contact Price Self Storage today and our Free Concierge Service will help with anything you need!