Why Do Shoes Crumble? (Let’s Find Out)

Shoes are made up of many different parts, some of which are prone to natural degradation at some point.

This is frequently determined by the composition of your shoe. This composition can give the material-specific features, but it can also explain why it has given useful life.

I am very sure that if I took a survey of how many people have shoes in their racks abandoned because they started to chip, a large percentage will reply in the affirmative. I mean, even I have shoes that I have abandoned because they started to crumble.

5 different reasons why shoes crumble

  1. Poor maintenance
  2. Too much usage
  3. Harsh Weather
  4. Poor storage
  5. Expired shelf life

Poor maintenance

I would also like to call this poor maintenance. The truth is that most people have little or no idea about how to care for their shoes. I think it is important to be intentional about how we treat our shoes so that we will get the best out of them.

Shoes are actually meant to disintegrate over time but, if the shoes are taken care of properly, they will last till they should. For example, a lot of shoe users have a habit of using Vaseline also known as petroleum jelly to shine their shoes.

I mean, I am pretty sure everyone has done it once or twice, if not more. The truth is that not all shoes are compatible with petroleum jelly. The thing is, it softens the leather of shoes and makes the quality of the leather low or bad.

To therefore maintain the quality of the shoes, some specially made polishes are meant to be applied. So we think, so far my shoe is shining in the sun, why do I need another polish? Dear friend, you will soon go and throw your shoes away.

Too much usage

Wearing a particular pair of shoes for a long time or all the time will encourage wear and tear, which makes shoes crumble faster. Research has shown that people sweat up to 500 ml each day on their feet.

The majority of it is collected by your socks and mind you, not everyone wears socks because some people find it uncomfortable but some of it is also absorbed by your shoes.

Between wearing, shoes should be allowed to air for at least 24 hours. Otherwise, the materials will degrade and the shoes will wear out more quickly. If possible, do not wear the same pair every day so as to prevent quick wear down.

Harsh weather conditions

No matter how harsh or bad the weather is, we cannot help but wear shoes. For example, Leather shoes are fantastic for a lot of things, but they’re not designed to be worn in the rain.

Water can soak into the leather, causing it to fracture over time and permanently distorting it so much that it cracks all over.

Although leather is still fairly water-resistant, especially when compared to many trainers and canvas shoes, rain can destroy the look of them and I am sure you will agree with me when I say that the look is a large part of why we wear shoes.

Also, some people dry their shoes in the sun due to some reason or the other. When leather is exposed to the sun, it fades faster. It will fade naturally over time even if it is not kept in the sun but drying it in the sun will only make matters worse.

Poor storage

We sometimes wonder why shoes crumble even when we have not worn them more than twice. In fact, sometimes, some shoes disintegrate without being worn at all.

Rubber shoes, such as Crocs, for example, can last a lifetime because no adhesive or glue is used to attach anything to them.

They are made of either pure croslite foam material or plastic. When it comes to leather shoes or boots, however, if you don’t wear them and don’t store them properly, the gums start to fall out and they start to exhibit indications of wear and tear due to moisture and heat exposure.

This finally leads to damage. So basically shoes should not be stored in extremely hot or cold temperatures or a place of high humidity.

Expired shelf life

Shoes generally are bound to crumble or disintegrate over time. When we buy shoes, we actually do not know how long the shoes have stayed on the seller’s shelf. The shoes could have spent the required time span on the shelf. If one ends up buying a shoe like that, it won’t last a long time before it will crumble.

How to stop your shoes from crumbling?

Why Do Shoes Crumble

Besides the fact that shoes are bound to crumble, there are ways to take proper care of our shoes so that we will enjoy the most out of them before they finally disintegrate.

  • Invest in high-quality shoes
  • Keep them in a dry, regulated atmosphere
  • Wear or condition your shoes regularly
  • Try not to wear the same pair of shoes all the time

Invest in high-quality shoes

We may talk all day about how to properly store your shoes and maintain the ideal environment, but if your shoes are manufactured of low-quality materials, they will not last long, even if you don’t wear them.

Fake leather and suede decay at a considerably higher rate than real leather and rubber. Low-quality soles disintegrate much more quickly, and glue deteriorates far faster than excellent stitching.

If you’re going to keep your shoes for a few years or only use them once in a while, you definitely can’t cut corners when it comes to quality.

Keep them in a dry, regulated atmosphere

For shoes that are worn often, they should be stored away from extremes of heat and cold, and should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Keep them in a dry area with no sources of moisture or high room humidity.

A room closet is an excellent place to keep them. For shoes that are not worn often, Shoeboxes (whether made of plastic or cardboard) are a poor choice for long-term storage of your shoes and can promote crumbling.

They obstruct natural air circulation, creating the ideal conditions for moisture to build up. Instead, use a shoe rack or an open shelf.

Wear or condition your shoes regularly

Shoes are designed to be worn, and storing them in your house for an extended period of time is damaging. Wearing your shoes every now and then will expose them to fresh air, and cleaning them before and after wear will remove bacteria that has begun to build inside them.

Even if you are not wearing your shoes, treat them once in a while with dedicated shoe care solutions like shoe conditioners or polishers for rejuvenating advantages.

Try not to wear the same pair of shoes all the time

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Rotating your shoes is the best way to extend the life of your shoes. As you walk about in your shoes, the leather absorbs the sweat from your feet. That may sound disgusting, but it’s perfectly normal as long as you allow the shoe plenty of time to dry.

However, if you wear just a pair every day, it will crumble faster because there is literally no breathing space for the shoes.

If you don’t let your shoes air out for at least a day, the sweat-soaked leather will distort, and your shoes will lose their shape – not to mention smell funny. The damper leather is also more vulnerable to abrasions such as scratches. All these factors lead to crumbling.

As a result, you should buy at least one more pair and alternate between them.

How long does it take for a shoe to crumble?

Shoes crumble between 2 to 3 years and so as a general rule, you should try to replace your footwear every 3 years

However, some variables play a role, in adding to or subtracting from the normal shelf life. The lifespan of a shoe, or how long you may wear it before replacing it, is determined by three factors:

  • The style of shoe
  • How you wear it
  • Quality of the materials used

For example, sports sneakers are meant to endure 45 to 60 hours of hard athletic activity, whereas running shoes are designed to last 500 miles.

Using them more or less than they should be used will either add or subtract from the stipulated time they are meant to use. As for leather, you may expect at least six months of frequent use if you buy low-quality leather shoes.

However, that same pair of shoes would easily last three to five years if you just wore them inside on carpeted surfaces. If you walk on concrete or other hard outdoor surfaces frequently, your shoes will naturally wear out in six months to a year.

In addition, it depends on the person wearing the shoes too.

How do you fix crumbling soles?

The first portion of a shoe to wear out is usually the sole. Fortunately, mending the sole can be a simple solution to make your shoes as good as new if the rest of the shoe is in good condition.

In just a few minutes, you can replace worn-out soles, repair holes or loose soles, and wear them again within 24 hours of fixing.

If you wish to fix your shoes, your best bet is a cobbler. They are trained and taught to fix shoes. I also have given my old shoes to a cobbler a couple of times and the outcome was pretty good.

However, if you are a fan of DIY (Do It Yourself) or you cannot find a cobbler around then, you have to note that to change the soles of your shoe, you have to also change the insoles. The insoles are the bottom component of the shoes inside; they cushion and support the foot’s sole.

These insoles may begin to come up as a result of normal wear and tear, causing the shoe to break apart or simply become difficult or uncomfortable to wear. To keep insoles in place, a variety of glues can be used. A very good example is the Shoe Goo.

Shoe Goo is a shoe repair glue that works on both the interior and exterior of the shoe. It’s designed to keep loose or torn shoe pieces, particularly insoles, in place.

This adhesive will adhere to almost any two surfaces, including rubber, cloth, and leather. If you cannot lay your hands on this shoe goo, super glue too can be used.

After fixing the insoles, then you go ahead to fix the sole of the shoes.

The following simple steps can be taken:

  • Get your shoe goo or super glue and sandpaper
  • Clean the shoe’s heel and sole to eliminate any dirt or residue; you want it to be as clean as possible before you begin working on it.
  • After that, sand the two sides of the sole using sandpaper. Sanding the surfaces will aid the glue’s ability to reattach the shoe.
  • After that, use your superglue to coat both sides generously. Check the package for instructions on how long to wait before pushing the heel and shoe together (some glues recommend leaving a few minutes to increase the bonding qualities of the glue).
  • Once you have pressed the two sides together in the precise position, hold them there for a few minutes before locking them with elastic bands or a heavy item for 24 hours to allow the glue to properly fix.


It cannot be overemphasized that the way you take care of your shoes will determine how long they last. In lieu of this here are some free tips.

  • Keep your shoes clean and stain-free.
  • Dust it with a moist towel every now and then.
  • If you wear closed shoes, remember to wipe your feet regularly with a moist towel before putting them on.
  • If you have sweaty feet, use foot powder to prevent stains from staining your soles and uppers over time.
  • Shoes should be stored in well-ventilated areas because they will soon wear out if exposed to too much heat.
  • Consider applying shoe polish on leather products such as the bottoms of your shoes and boots on a regular basis while you’re still at home to keep your style shimmering.

In addition, your shoe would last as long as you maintain it.


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