What Happens to Leather Shoes When Exposed to Heat?

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The world's oldest leather shoe was discovered in a cave in Armenia -- perfectly preserved at 5,500 years old.
The world's oldest leather shoe was discovered in a cave in Armenia -- perfectly preserved at 5,500 years old. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Leather shoes are a worthwhile investment due to their durability, comfort, beauty and craftsmanship. Even if your leather shoes become wet, they should be kept away from prolonged artificial heat. Heat can severly damage the look and construction of your shoes so it is important to properly dry them out in a well-ventilated area.

Damage to the Body of the Shoe

Prolonged exposure to heat will dry and crack leather. Heat causes steam and water vapor to develop within the leather, attacking the leather fibers. Once the shoe cools, it will become brittle and hardened.

Damage to the Sole of the Shoe

Most leather shoes have strong leather soles. Unfortunately, leather soles can be ruined by heat. Placing your wet shoes to dry by a fireplace, radiator or on the floor of your car in front of the heating vents may seem like a good idea, but the heat will cause the soles to become misshapen and broken down once dried.

Damage May Not Be Visible

At first, damage may not be visible on the exterior body of the shoe. Damage first occurs within the leather fibers of the shoe. With continued wear, the damage to the leather fibers will lead the body and sole of the shoe to disintegrate. Most importantly, the durability properties inherent in leather will be severely compromised.

Properly Dry Your Shoes

If your leather shoes are damp, place them in a well-ventilated area in average room temperature. Stuff your shoes with newspaper and let them sit that way overnight to help soak up the excess moisture and keep their shape.

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