How To Keep Shoes From Dry Rotting

You may have heard of dry rot and how nightmarish it can be. Although it is more commonly associated with woods and building work, dry rot can affect other materials as well, such as leather and rubber. 

If you have noticed your favorite pair of leather boots or shoes beginning to crumble and look worse for wear, the likelihood is that its dry rot. While you cannot stop the dry rot process, there are steps you can take to combat this problem. In this article, we will be discussing what dry rot is, what it looks like, and the steps you can take to help to prevent it.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a decay caused by a fungus called serpula lacrymans and does not cause rotting. Instead, the fungi deteriorate materials over time and in shoes, it affects the rubber and leather in particular. The dry rot process is a long one and typically occurs with old leather shoes, and shoes made with low-quality materials. What causes Dry Rot In Shoes?

The main cause of dry rot in shoes is the absence of natural oils in the leather. Over time, these oils seep out and cause the leather to become dry and weak. The leather will then begin to damage and fall apart. When there are no natural oils left, this is when moisture and damp can seep into the shoe and wreak havoc. If the shoes are not kept in a cool and dry place, the dry rot can quickly spread. 

What Does Dry Rot In Shoes Look Like?

Dry rot in shoes may look different to how you imagined it to be. It looks like a white and powdery layer on the surface of the shoe.

If there is glue holding your shoes together instead of stitching, this can become yellow as the dry rot progresses. The leather of the shoe will start to come apart and break. If your shoe has rubber soles, these will start to disintegrate and crumble away.

How To Keep Shoes From Dry Rotting

If your shoe has already fallen victim to dry rot, there is not an awful lot you can do as it is already too late to try and prevent it.

All shoes will naturally deteriorate over time, but there are steps you can take to help slow the process of potential dry rot. These steps mainly involve helping the leather to retain its natural oils.

Store Your Shoes Well

The best way to help prevent dry rot is to store your shoes well. If your shoes are stored in a place that is cool and dry, they are likely to have a prolonged life. If you are keeping them in a warm and humid environment, they are more likely to dry rot.Preferably, the place you are storing the shoes should be a perfect temperature, not too cold or not too warm. You should keep them in a place where harsh weather conditions cannot affect them.

For example, if you are keeping your shoes outside in the snow, or constant direct sunlight, they will damage a lot quicker than if they are stored correctly in a cupboard. Places that fluctuate in temperature significantly, such as your basement, attic, or laundry room are not the ideal place to keep shoes. You may find it more useful to store them in a more controlled environment instead.

In addition to this, it may be worth throwing out your plastic or cardboard shoebox. While you may think they are great, they prevent fresh air from reaching the shoes and can encourage dry rot. A shoe rack is a much better place to store your shoes. 

Purchase A Good Quality Pair Of Shoes

The quality of the shoes you purchase can have a big impact on their lifespan. If your shoes are made cheaply, the likelihood is that the quality of the shoe is not great. Cheaper shoes tend to wear a lot quicker and the glue and materials used are of lower quality.

If you want your shoes to last, it may be worth investing in good quality, sturdy pair of shoes. With leather shoes, in particular, a good quality pair can last a long time, especially if looked after correctly.

Keeping Moisture At Bay

One of the key messages to take from this article is to avoid your shoes from being affected by moisture. If you can keep the moisture at bay, you will have the best chance of preventing your shoes from dry rotting.

There are a few ways in which you can do this, the first being to put newspaper pages inside the shoe. This may seem simple, but is a cheap and easy way to draw any moisture out of your shoe while storing them. If you would prefer to use a different product, you could also try silica gel, which will have the same effect.

Polish And Condition Your Shoes

With leather shoes, in particular, you need to ensure that you are looking after the shoe properly. If you are not regularly polishing the shoe and applying a conditioning treatment to the leather, it will deteriorate quicker.

The polish and conditioner help to protect the leather by creating a barrier between the shoe and the elements. It helps to maintain the sturdiness of the shoe, keeps them looking shiny and new, and also helps to remove any bacteria or fungus that may be lingering on the shoe.


These are our tips on how to keep shoes from dry rotting. As you can see, they are easy to follow and none of the techniques are particularly difficult to achieve.

The most important thing to remember is keeping your shoes away from moisture. If they do happen to be exposed to excess water or humidity, you must allow the shoe to dry correctly. By using polish and conditioner regularly, you will help to prolong the life of your shoe. If your shoes are made out of high-quality materials they are likely to last longer. Always ensure that you are keeping your shoes in a temperature-controlled environment to help keep the dry rot at bay.

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