How to Keep Shoes from Dry Rotting

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How to Keep Shoes from Dry Rotting

Have you ever noticed that your favorite shoes start to smell after a while? This is because they’re most likely slowly drying out, and it can be difficult to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

Out of all your apparel, your shoes put up with the most abuse. They are constantly exposed to water, dirt, and other random substances from the environment. 

But footwear is generally neglected by their owners, you may wash your clothes on a weekly basis, but your shoes can be left untouched for months on end. This can prove to be really bad for the longevity of your shoes.

If you have a hard time keeping up with drying your shoes, then this post will hopefully teach you how to keep shoes from dry rotting. Luckily, there are some ways to help keep your shoes from getting too dry. 

Dry rot occurs when your shoes aren’t cared for in a quite a while. When people put their shoes into storage, they tend to forget about them completely. Dry rot is quite easy to prevent with just a little care and in this article, we will look at how you can improve the longevity of your trusty shoes with a few simple techniques.

Also Read: How to Beat a Radon Test

What is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a type of decay that is caused by a fungus called Serpula Lacrymans. Your shoes are the perfect breeding grounds for this fungus because it thrives in a moist environment.

If not ventilated properly, all the sweat and excess water trapped in your shoes greatly increase the moisture inside of your shoe. Over time if the shoe is not looked after, the fungus keeps growing and forms molds which cause the material of the shoe to break down.

In addition, shoes that are put into storage for long periods of time will start to lose oil. The oil evaporates over time and as your shoes stay neglected for a long time this oil will completely evaporate. This makes the leather much weaker and causes cracks.

It is this combination of mold damage and damage caused by excessive evaporation which destroys shoes over time. You may think that you need to throw out your old, stinky shoes, but you don’t! Here are some ways to keep them dry.

How to Keep Shoes from Dry Rotting:

Now that we know what dry rot is and what causes it, we can talk about ways you can prevent it from damaging your shoes.

  1. Keep Them Ventilated:

You can negate the growth of mold by just placing your shoes in a well-ventilated area. A shoe rack is an ideal place for this as it allows air circulation.

Something you won’t want to use though is a shoebox. It just locks the moisture in and over time this moisture will facilitate the growth of mold.

  1. Polish Them:

You can stop the oil from evaporating from your shoes by applying some shoe polish. This keeps the oil from evaporating thus preventing cracks.

  1. Keep them Away from Sunlight:

A shoe should always be kept in a shaded environment, direct sunlight accelerates the process of evaporation which dries out your shoes.

  1. Check on Them Periodically:

You should check on your stored shoes at least once a month. If you notice that the smell of your shoe seems a little off, or the material feels a little dry then these can be early signs of mold formation.

You can protect your shoes by just polishing them and then storing them in a place with better ventilation.


Dry rotting is very devastating for shoes but luckily it is easy to prevent with a little bit of care. If you take care of a few things like the storage area and moisture, then you can make your shoes last a long time.

In addition to these steps, you should polish your shoes periodically to prevent excessive oil evaporation. 

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