How to Store Shoes Long Term and Avoid Damaging Them

If you’re searching for how to store shoes long term without damaging them, you probably already know that shoving your collection in a closet isn’t the best thing for your shoes. Proper shoe storage is important.

First off, you don’t want to store shoes covered in dirt, dust, or other residues, regardless of the storage method. That’s because your precious footwear will deteriorate quickly, as dirt encourages mold growth.

Of course, caring for your shoes can make them last longer. But proper storage, especially for the long term, is also part of shoe maintenance.

There are tons of storage methods available today. Having to choose between a shoe rack, shoe tree, shoe box, shoe cabinet, or any other shoe organizer can feel overwhelming. Which method is best for storing shoes?

In this quick article, I’ve outlined the steps you need to take if you want to preserve the quality of your shoe collection while in storage. You will also learn a few things to avoid when storing footwear.

Let’s dive right in.

Store Shoes Long Term and Avoid Damaging
Image Source: Pixabay

How to Store Shoes Long Term

Step 1: Choose an Appropriate Storage Unit

Storage units can range from cardboard boxes to plastic cases, shoe racks, and more. All of these options have their place but not all of them are ideal for storing your shoes for the long term.

You want to choose a storage unit that’s free from moisture, humidity, and dust. In addition to these environmental factors, pests and rodents can also damage some storage units.

An ideal storage unit for storing footwear long-term will include hanging shoe racks, ottoman, toy bins, plastic containers, and cabinets.

Step 2: Get Packing Materials

You need to use packing materials to repel moisture, even if you store your shoes in moisture-resistant storage units.

Your options include:

  • Acid-free tissue or paper towel: This material is moisture-absorbent and will protect your footwear from deterioration while in storage.
  • Silica gel packets: Silica packs are great at preventing mold.
  • Packing tape: This will hold the paper towel in place and prevent dust and dirt build-up on your shoes.
  • Antibacterial spray: Use this to eliminate bacteria and fungus, especially if you’ve suffered any foot infection.
  • Shoe deodorizer: If you plan to store suede sneakers for a long time, it is usually a good idea to use a spray them with a shoe deodorizer before packing them into storage. This is great shoe care and will keep them smelling fresh while in storage.

Step 3: Sort Your Shoes and Prepare them for Storage

It is easy to forget that shoes are different and constructed using a variety of materials. Each shoe type has a slightly different storage preparation.

Here are the common shoe types and what you need to consider when putting them into long term storage:

  • Leather shoes: Clean leather shoes and stuff them with acid-free tissue before storing them.
  • Work boots: After cleaning work boots, insert boot molds in the shoes to maintain their form. Remember to store them in an upright position.
  • Sneakers: Remove the laces from sneakers after cleaning them. Consider deodorizing and air-drying them if you’ve recently used them before storage.
  • Kids shoes: Clean little shoes before storing them in an ottoman, unused toy bin, or chest.

Step 4: Store Your Shoes Where You Can Control the Temperature

After cleaning and preparing, store the shoes in a storage unit located in an airy room. Excellent spots in the home to keep your shoes for long-term storage include your bedroom and top of your closet.

The basement is not the best place to keep your shoes because it can get too cold during winter and too hot during summer. This extreme temperature fluctuation can damage the fiber or shoe material.

Tips to Preserve Shoes in Long-Term Storage

Preserve Shoes in Long-Term Storage
Image Source: Pixabay

Keep the following tips in mind if you plan to store your shoes for a significantly long time.

Don’t Store Wet or Damp Shoes

It doesn’t matter whether it is long- or short-term, putting damp or wet shoes in storage will lead to mold.

That’s beside the skunky smell the shoe will produce.

Make sure your shoes are completely dry before putting them in storage. If possible, allow the shoes to air out for an entire day before storage. This will allow residual moisture and any odor to dissipate.

Use Shoe Stretchers or Shoe Trees

Okay, I know many people think that shoe stretchers are solely designed to expand shoe length or increase the width, particularly for tight-fitting shoes. Luckily, this contraption does more than that.

It is a good practice to put your shoes on wooden shoe stretchers if you don’t plan to use them for an extended period.

Doing so can help your shoes to retain their original shape while in storage and prevent wrinkles or creases from forming in your favorite pair.

But before you insert a shoe stretcher, I strongly recommend letting your footwear “breathe” for at least one whole day after wearing it. This will air-dry any moisture in the shoe.

Putting damp shoes on plastic or wooden shoe stretchers can trap residual moisture and increase the likelihood of mold and deterioration.

Avoid Cardboard or Plastic Shoe Boxes for Long-term Shoe Storage

Shoes need to breathe to remain in good condition.

Unfortunately, plastic bin storage and cardboard shoe boxes block natural air circulation. This can lead to moisture build-up and mold, especially if you store them in humid conditions or hot locations.

For example, keeping footwear in a plastic box inside a shoe closet for a long time will likely cause irreparable damages. The glue can dry out and the soles will likely come off the lining when you eventually take the shoes out of storage.

Even if you add silica gel packets and wrap your shoes in tissue paper, they can still get damaged from moisture build-up. Instead, find a storage space where the shoes can get better airflow.


How to store shoes long term differs from the ways you store frequently used shoes. You need to prepare the shoe for long-term storage, have a good storage location, and apply some common sense.

If you can follow the shoe storage idea that we outlined in this post, you won’t have to risk damaging several pairs of valuable shoes just because you don’t wear them often.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top