Uwabaki (上履き)

A number of useful tips to be garnered from this morning’s NHK Asaichi TV programme:

  • To keep canvas shoes white as new, dip into baby powder and powder liberally and coat well with powder puff all over the new canvas shoes, paying attention to the seams, edges and cotton straps, which get dirty easily. The baby powder will plug the pores in the cotton so that soil and dirt will remain on the surface which can be brushed off easily. This keeps the canvas whites whiter and newer than if you use industrial canvas cleaners. Those notoriously difficult-to-maintain–in-a-white-state school canvas shoes Uwabaki (上履き) can finally be kept in pristine condition! Important: Prevention is better than cure, so this simple method only works if you apply it to brand-new shoes before they get dirty. Once the dirt gets into the warp and the weave of the cottons, there maybe no going back to whiter than white.
  • Use alum (みょうばん myouban in Japanese) to get rid of smells and especially to kill the germs in shoes. Use a spray-bottle containing a mixture of 6g of alum powder and 100 ml of water, and spray onto the insides of shoes. Alum has been used as a deodorant by various cultures, and notably by the Romans in antiquity(see Pliny the Elder’s “The Natural History, Chap 52”).
  • To maintain shoes such as rain-boots (“wellies”) in a dry, clean and smell-free condition, create your own teru teru bozu with a cotton square clean rag or remnant textile, stuff with alum powder, and tie into a teru-teru bozu form. Stuff the teru teru bozu, head first into the toe area of the shoe.

teru teru bozu

  • To maintain those high school black leather shoes for longer life and cleaner, shinier shoes, here’s the easy TOP SECRET tip. Use an ordinary clean cotton ragcloth, wet it well (but not dripping) and press into the surface of the shoe all over, then wipe off the grime and dirt. The dirt will all come off easily. Water will work better than any storebought shoe-cleaner. Then use your usual store-bought leather waxes or creams to protect and maintain the life of your leathers.
  • To keep your working leathers or other shoes (eg gym shoes) in shape when not in use, and to avoid sag and moisture-retention, crush a sheet of newspaper and roll up into small balls, wrap each ball in one sheet of tissue, then stuff into your shoe till full.
  • To be rid of mold growing on your shoes, scrub and wipe off the mold from the surface of the shoes. Then with a store-bought ethanol cleaning solution in spray-bottle, spray liberally all over the affected shoe surface, and wipe off with a clean cotton rag.
  • To avoid peeling and poorly fitted foam cushion insole pads, cut to accurately fit your shoe shape, and then spread a layer of dedicated-for-shoe-glue onto both the inside sole area of the shoe and a layer on the back of the shoe insole cushion pad. Important: Wait till the glue nearly dry (to the point that the glue does not stick to your fingers), then press the shoe insole cushion pad to the insole of the shoe into position. Press well with your thumb the entire area of the insole. This will prevent the problem of shifting and peeling shoe cushion pads.
  • To mend your worn out heels of your shoes, this is what you do. Cut a rectangular strip from any old clear plastic folder.  Tape with duct-tape the strip of plastic to the heel of the shoe, squeeze from a tube of store-bought shoe repairer rubber mix (chip type) onto the heel area to be refurbished. Then with a tongue-depressor (used ice-cream stick), level off the shoe-repairer mix. Wait for it to set and dry for 24 hours. Your shoe will be as good as new.

Repairing the heel of your wornout shoes

How I love the ever-practical Asaichi TV programme!