Term to term shoe care tips from Toughees

Term to term shoe care tips from Toughees

With the start of a new school term, you might find that your child unexpectedly needs a new pair of school shoes - and not necessarily because they've outgrown them. School shoes can take a real beating during the school term, through scuffs from daily hard wear, or not being cared for or stored correctly during school weeks and holiday periods.

Footwear giant Bata produces over 4 million of the country’s school shoes every year, including Toughees, Kenya's most trusted school shoe for generations since 1954, and BFirst, a budget-conscious range also designed to last.

Good school shoe care is essential for ensuring shoes last from term to term, and even year to year.

The act of caring for school shoes is a responsibility that many parents will recall from their own childhood. It not only teaches kids about responsibility, but also helps protect their possessions from wear and tear. At Bata, we understand that parents rely on us to create durable, comfortable, and high-quality shoes for their children. However, it's up to them thereafter to properly maintain and care for the shoes once they're purchased.

Here are Bata's top tips to help teach and encourage children to take care of their school shoes during and in between school terms:

Ensure a proper fit. Shoes that don't fit well will show signs of wear sooner. School shoes often come in different widths, and if you're ordering online you can check the Toughees sizing guide to make sure you're buying the perfect pair for your child.

Clean and polish shoes regularly. This keeps leather supple, protects it, and conceals scuffs and scratches. Polish the shoe with a matching polish colour to take away scratches or marks, or you could opt for a no polish pair from Toughees. Buff with a soft cloth for shine by wiping across the top of the shoe.

Teach your child to take off their shoes properly. This helps maintain the shoes’ shape and prolongs their life. Laced shoes should always be untied first before taking off or slipping back on. Show your child how to put their thumb in the back of the shoe until their foot is in, rather than using their other foot to slip out of shoes from the heel, or pushing the back of the shoe down, as this will help prevent damage to the heel counter. They should then work from the toes up to tighten their laces before tying them.

Remove mud and grit as soon as possible. This will prevent buildup and extend the lifespan of the shoes. Brush the underneath of the shoe daily to clear any grit or mud caught underneath.

Dry wet school shoes carefully. You can do this by stuffing them with crumpled paper to absorb any moisture and allowing them to air dry naturally.

Store school shoes properly. Do not store in a box, as the box can contain fungus and mould that could catch on the shoe.

Invest in the best you can afford. School shoes like Toughees have durable features such as genuine leather uppers, odour protection, and are less susceptible to discolouration and deterioration of fibre structure. They also offer guarantees on fair wear and tear.

With a few simple steps daily from term to term, both parents and children can lengthen the lifespan of a shoe and get maximum use without sacrificing on comfort.

A Step By Step Guide To Cleaning And Polishing

How To Wash School Shoes

Knowing how to clean school shoes can be a real life saver, having to keep buying shoes as part of an already expensive uniform isn’t something you want to be doing unless absolutely necessary. So, let's take a look at what can be done to effectively wash different types of school shoes:

How To Clean Black School Shoes — Black is the most common colour for school shoes, however they can be one of the hardest colours to keep clean. There are however a few things that can be done to help make life easier. If the shoes are leather, use a damp cloth (not dripping!) to remove any excess dirt and then let them air dry away from a heat source. A good quality leather oil can then be worked into the shoes, this will protect against water damage and will prevent the leather from cracking.

If the shoes are suede, use a soft bristle brush to remove any excess dirt, avoid using water on suede as this will cause stains and can cause the colour to run.

How To Wash Canvas Shoes — Canvas shoes are perfect during the summer time as they allow feet to breathe, however they can become dirty quite quickly. One of the easiest ways to clean canvas shoes is to put them in the washing machine, however this can age the shoes more quickly. Alternatively, a simple soap and water bath using a soft bristle brush to remove the dirt can also do the trick. As with leather, always air dry to maintain the integrity of the shoe.

How To Clean White Canvas Shoes — White canvas shoes can be a problem, even after washing they can still seem a little off colour. One sure fire way to make them look like new is with a simple solution of baking soda mixed with water, using a toothbrush to work it into the shoe. Once this is done, it can be left for a few minutes before washing as you would before.

How To Keep School Shoes Clean — The best way to help prevent school shoes getting dirty is by applying a protective spray. These are particularly useful for leather and suede shoes as they also create a waterproof layer, preventing water marks and particularly salt stains during the winter months.

To help keep canvas shoes clean and to create a waterproof barrier, simply use a clear/white candle to coat the shoes and then melt the wax into the canvas using a hair dryer. Always be sure to check that the canvas is cotton not synthetic before heating.

How to Polish School Shoes

A nicely polished pair of shoes can stand out a mile but not all polishing techniques get the best result. We think that the old ways are the best so let us talk you through how to polish your school shoes or boots like a soldier:

Step 1 — Firstly, always protect the area where you plan to work, shoe polish on your carpet is a stress you can probably do without, so always use a towel or old newspaper to protect your work area.

Step 2 — Using a soft brush or damp cloth, remove any excess dirt and debris. If using a damp cloth, allow the shoes to fully dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 3 — With a shoe polish brush, cover the entire shoe with a generous helping of a good quality, oil based polish, working it evenly into every part of the shoe. Once done, leave for approximately 15 minutes for the polish to dry… Make sure you pick the right colour polish for your shoes!

Step 4 — Using a smaller, softer shine brush, brush the entire shoe vigorously to remove any excess polish. This should leave a thin coating.

Step 5 — Now, take some cotton wool and lightly dampen, next get a small amount of polish on the cotton wool and work it into the heel and toe of the shoes using small circular motions. This process can take a few minutes to get to the desired level of shine. Don’t be afraid to get a new piece of cotton and start the process again if you’d like super shiny school shoes.

Quick Tips For Making School Shoes Look Like New

As a busy parent, any time-saving tips for making things easy are usually a welcomed treat. With that in mind, we have a few tips and tricks that will not only save your little ones shoes, but time and money too:

Old Newspapers — Newspaper can be extremely useful when it comes to shoe care, in more ways than one. Firstly, you can use scrunched up balls of newspaper to maintain the shape of shoes when not in use, this is particularly useful for preventing creases in winter boots. You can also stuff damp shoes with newspaper to help draw out the moisture… though this isn’t recommended with white shoes due to potential ink stains!

Keep Away From Heat — Even if the shoes aren’t wet, storing them near a heat source such as a radiator can have a detrimental effect on how long they last as it can cause cracking and dry out the soles. Avoid this as much as possible.

Always Wear Socks — Ensuring your little one always wears socks (cotton) with their shoes, will not only help maintain the freshness of shoes, it will help prevent sweating which can lead to sores and blisters.


School shoes are an inevitable part of your children growing up and sometimes keeping them clean and fresh can seem like an impossibility. We hope that our handy step-by-step shoe-cleaning guide makes putting their best foot forward that little bit easier!

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