How To Store Shoes – tips and tricks

If you’re looking for a concise guide to answer all your questions about shoe storage, this is where your search ends. This page is a 5-minute read, but it can save you a pretty penny down the line and prolong the lives of your sole-mates.
Before we move on, let’s glance at a summary of what’s to come.

Here’s How to Store Shoes Properly in a Nutshell:

1. Take stock of the shoes you own and declutter.
2. Sort the ones you’re keeping by frequency of use and type.
3. Thoroughly clean and dry out the shoes.
4. Insert wooden shoehorns to prevent creasing. For boots, use plastic shape holders or boot hangers
5. Add silica gel bags – both in the shoes and the containers. They will control moisture build-up and keep mold away.
6. Use labeled cardboard boxes or plastic containers to maximize the storage space.
7. Use the overlooked vertical areas of your closet by adding hanging shoe organizers.
8. Store your daily footwear on a spinning shoe tree.

Let’s move on to a more detailed explanation of each step.

Before you Store Shoes

Take Stock

If you’re already organized, but you just need a proper system in place, this step is optional. However, if you’re looking to solve shoe overpopulation problems, this step will make all the difference.

Bring out all the shoes you own. It will give you clarity and make each subsequent step easier.

Declutter and Cull

Decluttering is my favorite part. There’s freedom in letting go. Keep thinning the ‘herd’ until you’re left with shoes that you’ve worn at least once in the last two years.

Yes, this will mean letting go of those 10-year old tennis shoes that “go with everything.”

It takes some emotional stamina to make the cuts, but it pays dividends. It’s one of those things that, when done, leave you wondering how you managed the madness before.

Go through the collection and be honest with yourself about each pair. Power through – it has to be done.


This step is crucial for crafting a good shoe storage plan. So, don’t rush it; take some time to think it through.

Every week vs. once in a while

Before I even get to sort by type and size, I split my shoes into two groups: the ones I wear frequently and the ones I reach for once every six months. The latter will do just fine stored on the top floor of your closet or on your shoe rack.

Sort the Shoes you often wear by use

There’s no need to be especially detailed here; just go with your common sense. Think about it this way: you want to know exactly where to look when dressing up or going for a jog.

That will likely leave you with three or four shoe groups.

Sort by Type

Once you’ve culled the collection to the pairs you actually need and sorted your way through, you’ll likely have a good idea about how much storage you need. That’s the one piece of information you’ll need for the next step.

Decide if you need Extra Storage Space

With the first three steps completed, you are now ready to assess if the space you have is enough to house all your footwear. Let me suggest a few shoe storage ideas to get you started.

Idea 1 – Centralize

Take a moment and think about how you might move things around so that you can dedicate a whole closet to shoes. Be creative here; cabinets that are not deep enough for clothes might work great for shoes.

Whatever the case, centralizing is always a good idea.

Idea 2 – Stack them up for a Clean Look

Keeping the original boxes and stacking them on top of each other is an efficient way to organize your footwear.

Even better, get shoeboxes of the same shape and size. Your closet or shelves will look much better, and there won’t be any risk of the stacks tipping over because of the different box sizes. Finally, if you go with uniform boxes, label them so that you know what’s inside.

Extra tip: Make sure that the boxes are not exposed to direct sunlight because it can cause fading and cracks.

Idea 3 – Re-Imagine Underused Drawers

Repurpose that old buffet or sideboard that’s just sitting on the balcony and turn it into shoe storage. The ideal candidates here are buffets with shallow drawers because you don’t want to pile shoes on top of each other.

For a nice finishing touch, add scented liners or sachets to keep the drawers fresh.

Idea 4 – Avoid Heaps and Go 3D

Most of us have that one closet with shoes tossed around the bottom floor.

It’s not a great idea. At best, you’re probably using one-third of that space, and you’re scuffing the shoes against each other.

Instead, use that space as an extra floor for your clothes and move your shoes to dedicated shelves or a ladder. Organize the space so that you can see each pair or the box it’s in.

Idea 5 – Consider see-through Plastic

There are two sought-after outcomes to all effectively planned shoe storage solutions: you can see the shoes and you can easily get to them.

Plastic shoeboxes with lids, as well as bins and organizers with see-through slots, might not be the most eye-pleasing option, but they’re practical.

If the aesthetic of the space where you’re storing the shoes is not your primary concern, these are an excellent affordable option. For an elegant walk-in closet, however, labeled cardboard boxes will be a better fit.

Idea 6 – Use the Top of the Closet

The top of the closet is probably the single most overlooked space when it comes to shoe storage ideas. If done right, it can be a conversation starter. Go with your fanciest pairs to add a dash of pizzazz to space.

It’s a given here that the space is clean, and if so, your lovelies won’t collect dust.

Idea 7 – Hanging Organizers are your Friend

If you’re wondering how to organize shoes in a closet, I’ve got you.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that if you look right now, you’ll see gaps where there is unused vertical space in your closet. You can put it to good use with hanging organizers.

A few of these (typically ten slots each) can declutter your shoe rack and solve your storage problem without additional spending.

If you’re OK with the organizers being out in the open, the over-the-door style might be an option, too. These are not as elegant as closet organizers but do the trick for storing lighter footwear.

Bottom line – hanging organizers are an intelligent solution for storing shoes in a small closet, making the most of the space you already have.

Idea 8 – Get Creative with your Sandals and Flip Flops

The space thief, that’s what I call sandals. Or I used to anyway.

If you’re storing them, just like any other shoe, it’s high time you re-think it. These are not as sensitive to scuffing, which makes them a good candidate for you to get creative with and come up with some DIY shoe storage ideas.

Let me offer a few ideas I dabbled with:

  • Save the small hooks they come with, and clip them onto a plastic hanger.
  • If you want to be artsy about it, stock them in old magazine files or paint cans.
  • Pile the cheap ones in a box. Flip flops are probably the only piece of footwear I’m OK with storing in a pile on top of each other.
  • Use shower curtain rings to keep the pairs from scattering around the box.

Idea 9 – Spin the Daily Pairs

A spinning shoe tree is one of the best ways to store shoes you frequently wear, especially in the summer. This nifty gadget ticks all the boxes – you see everything, there’s little risk of scuffing, and your shoes are always available.

Idea 10 – Stack and Roll

If you’re a shoe fanatic, any conversation about thinning out your shoe herd will probably fall on deaf ears. For those who go through a few pairs each day, a rolling shoe rack might be the way to go.

They have a small footprint but can fit dozens of pairs. They also make an excellent alternative to spinning shoe trees if you have a big family.

When it’s time to add a Shoe Hub

If you look around your home and none of the storage ideas that we talked about above seem feasible, don’t fret. Move on and make a plan to add an extra shoe station.

This extra piece of furniture can be discreet and unobtrusive, but it can solve all your shoe storage problems for good. Just take your time when planning the dimensions. In my experience, a depth of about 15 inches and a shelf height of 6 inches is the sweet spot.

Best Way to Store Boots

Your priority when storing boots is to keep them upright so that they maintain shape. There are two approaches you can take, depending on your storage space.

Best Way to Store Boots

Approach 1 – Stuffing

You can go down the DIY route and stuff them with paper, but there are easier ways of going about it.

Here’s what I do: for a few bucks a pop, I get plastic boot shapers from Amazon. They work well with all short, medium, and tall boots.

Extra Tip: when storing boots long-term, raise them up to keep moisture and pests away.

Approach 2 – Hanging

If you have space in your closet, hanging is a great way to store your boots. After all, that’s what some retail stores do.

To do it properly, go with dedicated boot hangers. You can either get them with the boots (don’t be shy to ask), or you can get them online. They cost next to nothing (around 50 cents per hanger), and they make all the difference in the pursuit of a well-organized closet.

Extra Tip: to avoid indentation in the material, add a washcloth or a cotton round between the boot and the hanger clamp.

Avoiding damage when storing shoes

The DOs:

  • Clean leather and suede by brushing it off. If you need to remove a stain, use suede shampoo.
  • To clean canvas shoes, brush them before washing them.
  • Unless stated otherwise on the box, use mild soapy water on leather-like synthetics, rubber, and plastic.
  • Dry thoroughly before storing.
  • Make sure the box is not exposed to direct sunlight or cold during the winter. The storage unit shouldn’t be outside.
  • Use wooden shoehorns to maintain shape and minimize creasing; they’re not cheap, but they’re an investment in your shoes’ longevity.
  • For your most delicate pairs, go with acid-free archival boxes. These are made to preserve paper and will do a great job with your expensive stilettos.
  • Air out the stored shoes at least once every few months – they need to breathe.

The DON’Ts:

  • Don’t wrap your shoes in plastic. Plastic wraps can cause mold and discoloration. If you insist on wrapping before storage, use acid-free tissues.
  • Try to stay away from mothballs. They will repel moths, but the chemicals are too aggressive for some shoe materials. To be on the safe side, go with cedar balls – they work equally well with no adverse effects.
  • Stay away from wire shelves and go with flat surfaces. Wire shelving is cheaper, but the risk that comes with the sharp edges is simply not worth it.


Where to Store Shoes to Avoid Mold

To avoid mold when storing shoes, make sure the humidity of the storage space is in the 30-50% range and the container is breathable. If you’re using plastic containers with tight lids, puncture a few holes to let in some air. To take it a step further, add silica gel packs.

How to Store Leather Shoe Long-Term

For leather shoes, avoid storage spaces with frequent temperature changes. It can cause the leather to crease as it contracts and expands.

How to store nubuck and suede

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll lump suede and nubuck together because the same storage caveats apply:

  • Suede and nubuck are sensitive to fading and moisture, so it’s wise to use shoe bags before putting them in boxes. They need the extra layer of protection.
  • Don’t store them close to heat sources, like radiators.
  • Air-dry the shoes after applying shampoo.

Is it OK to Store Shoes in a Garage?

Storing shoes in a garage is perfectly fine if your garage meets the humidity range criteria – no less than 30% and no more than 50%. It’s also a convenient way to avoid bringing dirt into your house.

Where to Store Shoes in a Small Apartment

In small apartments, go vertical with shelves, rolling racks, and ladders.

No matter how small your apartment is, there’s probably enough space for a shoe rack with a 15×20″ footprint.

With good planning, you can probably fit 20-30 pairs on a custom-made storage unit. A rolling rack can accommodate even more; plus, you can move it around – just what you need for a small apartment.

Final Thoughts

If the question “what is the best way to store shoes?” brought you here, you should now have all the answers you’ll ever need. They say that good shoes take us to good places. It’s only fair that we return the favor.

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