Do shoes fall apart if you don’t wear them? Explained

When it comes to storing shoes, everyone has their own approach and reasons. 

Some people store their expensive leather shoes during the rainy season, while others have different pairs for various activities like running, hiking, walking, and playing, reserving their daily wear for regular use.  

As for me, I own five pairs of shoes, but I usually rotate between just two pairs and store the remaining three for extended periods. 

Storing shoes for a short time is generally not a big concern, but problems can arise when shoes are stored for an extended duration. 

Improper storage can easily lead to the deterioration of your shoes.  

I learned this firsthand when I stored my running shoes and dress shoes in a plastic bag for about two years.  

It was during that time that a friend warned me about the risks of storing leather shoes. 

Do shoes fall apart if you don't wear them

Since my dress shoes were made of leather, I took extra care of them by cleaning and polishing them every month.  

I even placed them in sunlight occasionally to prevent dry rotting. As a result, those shoes remained problem-free.  

However, I neglected my running shoes during that period. 

When I finally opened the plastic box where they were stored, I was shocked to find them completely destroyed.  

The soles were cracked, the uppers had deteriorated, and the cushioning and support were gone.  

Although they weren’t super expensive shoes, I realized that proper shoe storage can be a bit tricky. 

Following that experience, I conducted extensive research on how to properly store shoes and experimented with different methods.  

Now, I can confidently store my shoes without encountering any problems.

What happens to shoes if you don’t wear them?

There may be situations where we need to store our shoes for an extended period.  

However, if shoes are left unworn for too long, they are highly likely to deteriorate.  

While shoes won’t necessarily fall apart if left unused, they can degrade over time due to various factors such as the quality of materials, construction, storage conditions, and frequency of wear. 

If shoes are left unused for a prolonged period, especially if they are made of leather or other natural materials, they can become dry and brittle.  

This can lead to cracked soles and stiff, brittle uppers, causing potential damage or deterioration.  

Additionally, storing shoes in a damp or humid environment can result in mold or mildew growth, further shortening their lifespan.  

In some cases, shoes may attract pests like moths, which can damage the materials. 

Overall, while shoes may not disintegrate if left unworn, it’s crucial to store them properly and take good care of them to ensure their longevity. 

It’s worth noting that the rate of decay depends on the type of shoe and the materials used.  

Leather shoes tend to deteriorate more quickly than other types, although modern shoes made with advanced materials are generally more durable.  

Nevertheless, regardless of the shoe type, if you don’t wear them for a long time and fail to store them correctly, you can expect the following consequences: 

  • Outer soles may break, and leather shoes can dry rot over time, caused by the fungus Serpula lacrymans. 
  • Running or walking shoes may lose their cushioning and support when left unworn for an extended period. 
  • Shoes may become stiffer and less comfortable to wear than before. 

Now, why do shoes fall apart so quickly?  

Here are some essential factors you should be aware of: 

  • Over-wearing and under-wearing both contribute to shoe deterioration. Wearing shoes excessively, especially for activities like running, hiking, or everyday use, increases the chances of them falling apart. 
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes not only leads to foot problems but also accelerates shoe decay. It’s crucial to wear properly fitted shoes, and if you’re unsure about sizing, seek guidance. 
  • Machine washing and quick drying in dryers can significantly damage your shoes and expedite their deterioration. 

On the other hand, if you don’t wear your shoes for an extended period, there are other reasons why they may fall apart quickly: 

  • Improper storage can cause serious damage to your shoes. Ensure they are stored in the right place. 
  • Neglecting to clean your shoes adequately before storing them can result in problems. 
  • Failure to store shoes in a climate-controlled environment can lead to their destruction. 

Is it better to keep shoes in boxes or out? 

Is it better to keep shoes in boxes or out

Now, let’s address the question of whether it’s better to keep shoes in boxes or out.  

When I first started storing my shoes, I made several mistakes that ended up damaging them.  

Storing shoes in the wrong way can undoubtedly harm their condition.  

However, keeping your shoes in boxes is generally a great idea when storing them for an extended period. It provides additional comfort and security. 

Here are the main reasons for keeping your shoes in boxes: 

  • Protection against bed bugs and other pests that can damage your shoes. 
  • Shielding shoes from dust. 
  • Properly storing shoes in boxes can help prevent dry rotting, but make sure to clean them thoroughly before storage. 
  • Shoeboxes can help preserve the color of your shoes, minimizing the effects of climate change. 

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How long does an average pair of shoes last? 

Now, let’s discuss the average lifespan of a pair of shoes. Every shoe has a limited lifespan, which varies depending on the brand and quality.  

However, how you care for your shoes plays a significant role in determining their longevity. 

On average, running shoes last around 8 to 12 months or 450 to 700 miles when worn daily.  


Keep in mind that the lifespan is also influenced by the materials used.  

Modern shoes are made with more durable materials, allowing for longer storage periods without significant degradation.  

However, if you plan to store shoes after wearing them for a few days or months, make sure to clean and dry them thoroughly before storage. 

How to keep your shoes from falling apart? If you store them (Simple Steps) 

To ensure your shoes stay in good condition when stored, follow these simple steps: 

  • Clean your shoes carefully and apply conditioners. Use your hands, not a machine, to clean them. Remove any dust and apply a suitable shoe conditioner. 
  • Ensure your shoes are thoroughly dried before storage. You can stuff them with acid-free paper and use a low heat dryer briefly to expedite the drying process. 
  • Consider using silver paper to stuff and cover your shoes instead of newspaper. Silver paper can help prevent dry rotting, as bacteria and fungus are repelled by silver. If you plan to store your shoes for an extended period, covering them with silver paper is a better option than simply placing them in shoeboxes. 

By following these guidelines, you can enhance the longevity of your shoes and keep them in excellent condition, whether you’re wearing them daily or storing them for an extended period.  

Remember, taking proper care of your shoes ensures that they’ll be with you for many more steps to come. 

Final Thoughts

Now you may have a clear idea about what happened to your shoes if you don’t wear them. 

Am I right? 

And now it’s time to hear what you have to say. 

So, what is your experience with storing shoes? and what are your tips for storing shoes for a long time without deteriorating them?  

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now. 

1 thought on “Do shoes fall apart if you don’t wear them? Explained”

  1. Not only the feet need a change now and then, the shoes also benefit when all the shoes get used moderate, now and then. When a pair gets wet, i stuff them with newspaper and place them next to a heating element to partly shorten the drying period. I tried to repair some shoes with silicone(fat) but then i saw or realized how demanding such a job can be, because rolling feet in shoes will inflict fissures on the patch (made), the patch must cover a big area to last longer. So the shoemaker glue must be even more sticky then silicone fat or has to dry over days. One shoudn’t save money buying cheap shoes, i learnt.

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