10 Savvy Hacks for Your Shoes

Updated: May 22, 2024

These seriously clever shoe hacks will have you jumping for joy!

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wine box shoe storage container
Family Handyman

Wine Box Shoe Storage

Why pay for a fancy compartment-style shoe storage container when you can just pick one up for free at almost any store that sells wine? Designed to protect fragile glass bottles, a wine box is perfect for storing footwear because it comes equipped with cardboard dividers—a place for each shoe! In addition, the exterior cardboard is very sturdy, again to keep wine bottles from breaking, but also great for protecting your kicks in storage!

You could get fancy, too, and paint or cover the exterior of the wine box with decorative wrapping paper if you plan to keep it in your closet or entryway. Oh, and if you like this, check out some garage shoe storage solutions to instantly organize your space, too.

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HH sandpaper slippery shoe soles
family handyman

How to Add Traction to a Slick Pair of Shoes

If your favorite pair of shoes has a slick bottom, rather than risking a wipe-out on an icy sidewalk or tip toeing on an especially slick floor, try lightly sanding the bottom of your shoe soles. Scrub the sandpaper across the sole, where the ball of your foot will be, and across the heel. What you’re trying to do is scuff the soles a bit, sort of pre-aging them. Stop every so often and run your finger over the sole. You just want to scuff the shoe sole enough so that it no longer feels slippery.

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wiping salt residue off of shoes with vinegar

Get Rid of Salt Residue on Shoes

Your shoes can take a beating during winter months. The salt used to melt ice and snow on driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, etc., can help to keep you safe from falling, but it can also leave a nasty white residue on your footwear that doesn’t look great. But don’t toss those otherwise perfectly good shoes!

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HH Smelly Shoe Dryer sheet

So Fresh

Deodorizing work boots or sneakers calls for strong stuff! Simply slip a new dryer fabric softener sheet into each smelly shoe and leave it in overnight to cancel out odors (just remember to pull them out before wearing the shoes). It’s also a smart idea to freshen and deodorize places where you store your shoes. Drop a dryer sheet into the bottom of a shoe rack or boot tray and leave it there until your nose lets you know it’s time to renew it. Use dryer sheets to freshen these other items.

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HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste white
Family Handyman

Use Toothpaste to Clean Sneakers

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary.

Toothpaste will keep your smile in great shape but it’s also pretty handy in cleaning up around the house. Check out these 50 things you never knew you could do with toothpaste.

Important: The ingredients in toothpaste may vary from brand to brand, so make sure to try this method on a small unnoticeable spot on your sneakers before applying it to the rest of the shoe.

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HH leather shoes blow dryer

2-Minute Trick to Break in a Pair of Shoes

An uncomfortable pair of shoes can really ruin your day. If you’re walking a lot, you’ll end up with painful blisters. So why not just buy comfortable shoes that fit properly to begin with? Well, sometimes shoes fit just fine other than a couple pressure spots. Or maybe your old favorites got wet and shrunk a bit.

Take heart; for leather shoes, I’ve found a solution that works well. Stretch a pair of tight leather shoes by wearing thick socks and blowing a hair dryer on the tight area. For maximum benefit, flex and stretch your feet as you blast the tight spots with hot air. Keep the shoes on while they cool, then try walking in them in the socks you’d normally wear to check the fit. If your shoes are comfy, you’re done. But if they’re still snug, repeat the process until your shoes are a comfortable fit. — Tina Humphrey

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8 baking soda smelly shoe baking soda in shoes

Bye, Bye Smelly Shoes!

A smelly shoe doesn’t stand a chance against baking soda. To get rid of the odor in your shoes simply generously sprinkle the offending sneaker or work boot and let it sit overnight. Dump out the powder in the morning. However, be careful when using baking soda with leather shoes. Repeated applications of baking soda can dry a leather shoe out. Now your shoes will smell fresh after you put baking soda in shoes!

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grocery bag shoe covers

Grocery Bag Shoe Covers

When I’m working outside and have messy work shoes, I will step into plastic grocery bags and tie the handle loops around my ankles to hold them on. This keeps me from dragging in mud and such when I need to come inside for just a minute or two. It also keeps me out of trouble with my wife! — Lance Wiist

Save yourself a trip to the store by taking a look at what you have at home. You might be surprised what you can do with common household items. Check out these 100 Uncommon Uses for Common Household Items.

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Open Wine Bottle With a Shoe

Unleash your frustration of forgetting or misplacing a corkscrew by banging the cork out with a shoe or some other object to help absorb the impact of banging the bottle against a hard surface. But this trick only works with regular corks, not the plastic version, and you can’t use a shoe with too much cushioning. The wine will eventually force the cork out because liquids act like a solid when in a container.

Follow these tips on how to remove wine stains from carpet if you should have any spills.

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shoe secret hiding place
Family Handyman

Sneaker Subterfuge

Some shoes have a removable sock liner (the foam pad your foot rests on). Pull out the sock liner and slide in some cash. What thief is going to want to dismantle your stinky shoes? This is also a good place to hide emergency cash on your person while you’re on vacation unless, your sneakers are nice enough that someone would want to steal them too.Learn how to build a shoe rack here.