Do Shoes Expire? Even If You Leave Them in Storage?

Believe it or not but shoes will not last forever, even if you store it in the safest place on the planet.

Rotting Shoe

Yes you can preserve shoes to make them last as long as possible, but eventually they will wear down and not perform as good as they use to.

In this article I will answer the age-old question; do shoes expire?

And I hope you find everything you’re looking for.

Enjoy.

Do Shoes Expire?


Shoes are not made to last forever and do not have an expiry date per se, but they definitely will not last to the end of times.

There’s a reason people say invest your money into things that appreciate rather than depreciate, and shoes is one of those things that depreciate in value over time.

They wear down, they fall apart, they lose performance, lots of things happen to shoes, and the only thing that makes them last longer is the build quality and how often they are worn.

Sure you can refuse to wear them and preserve them, but dry-rotting is inevitable and preserving them is only going to slow down the process.

So to answer the question whether or not shoes expire, that will have to be a yes.

But there’s no set time and variables determine when they are good or not good to use anymore.

Can You Make them Last Longer in Storage?


Storing your shoes to make them last longer is possible and can make them last a few years if done correctly.

That does not mean leaving them on the floor of your closet and thinking they are in a safe place.

The best way to preserve shoes, in my opinion, is on a shelf with an open front.

Shoe Shelf

Anything similar to the picture above is a great choice.

The reason it needs to have an open front is air circulation.

Without ventilation, bacteria can and will grow inside the shoe and begin the dry-rotting process.

This is the easiest way to preserve shoes for ultimate longevity but if you would like to learn more about this process, I suggest you read this article.

Will Shoes Sitting in Storage For Years Be the Same as Brand New?


You would think because you have preserved shoes for years that they would be in good condition and as good as the day you bought them.

But unfortunately this is not the case.

Foam releases air from shoe and loses its effectiveness, and the dry-rotting process would have started a long time ago.

The longer the shoe is preserved, the more it loses its performance, even if it’s not being worn!

I read here that a person wore his shoes for running that had been in storage for a few years, and halfway through the run the entire midsole fell apart!

This just goes to show that dry-rotting will damage your shoes from the inside before making its way to where it’s visible.

So no, preserving shoes will definitely lose its performance overtime and as we can learn from the runner, do not use years-old shoes for a full blown running race.

Do Shoes Lose Cushioning?


Another common question people ask is whether or not shoes lose their cushioning.

Shoe cushioning is made up of foam which actually molds to your feet over time.

The first few uses are either very comfortable or uncomfortable until they “break” into the shape of your foot.

This process can take about a week but it’s a process called breaking in and can be painful for some people because every shoe is different.

Some shoes don’t even need breaking in but others need it.

Once this foam cushioning is molded to your feet, it’s just a matter of time before it compresses even more and loses its plushness and bounce-back.

The more you wear the shoe, the more it compresses until there is no cushioning left.

If you continue to wear the shoe once the foam loses its cushioning, it will actually start disintegrating and falling apart.

I know because I’ve tried it to see how long one of my shoes would last. Eventually they wear down so much that you can see the ground through the midsole! (lol)

So yes, shoes do lose their cushioning over time and wears down faster the more you wear them.

In addition to losing cushioning, they lose shock absorption, stability, support and traction.

A great way of making them last longer is to alternate the shoes every few days with a different pair of shoes.

If you really want to make your daily shoes last as long as possible, you could purchase 7 different pairs and choose one for everyday of the week.

What Wears Down First?


The part of the shoe that wears down first is the midsole.

The midsole sits between the insole and outsole (bottom of the shoe).

The midsole is the first because they are foam based. This means heat and humidity is going to kill the midsole before anything else.

After the midsole, it is the cushioning, shock absorption, stability, etc. Everything else follows suits.

The material that lasts the longest is usually the outsole and upper.

That’s why you can’t really tell how much a shoe has been worn just by looking at it, because the inside could be absolutely rooted but the upper looks brand new.

I mean, just check out these pictures of some Air Jordan’s that look mint but the midsole is toast.

So if you’re purchasing secondhand shoes from someone or off a website, ask to see the outsole and especially the inside of the shoe.

The outsole can give you a general idea about how old the shoe really is and how much is left in the tank.

Although this can be misleading because the shoe could’ve been in storage for years before going up for sale.

However, looking at the midsole will give you the most information whether or not they are ready for the trash.

In Conclusion


If you buy a brand new pair of shoes and put it in the closet for 5 years, do not expect it to feel brand new and ready to go 5 years later.

It’s going to feel stiff, horrible, and will not feel the same as when they were brand new.

There’s lots of stories of people taking their shoes out of the closet after many years and the midsole completely falls apart.

This just goes to show that the midsole is definitely the first thing to go, even if the shoe hasn’t been worn.

So do shoes expire?

They do not have a specific expiry date as some shoes last longer than others, but even with intense preservation, they are not going to last forever and the midsole will probably rot before it even gets to the 5 year mark.

Well that concludes this article.

Please leave all your questions and concerns in the comments below and I’ll be happy to get back to you asap.

Cheers.

14 thoughts on “Do Shoes Expire? Even If You Leave Them in Storage?”

  1. Being a fan of different shoes, sports but also casual, I always wondered if shoes expire.

    I really enjoyed reading this article and thanks a lot for sharing it with us and all the useful explanation given.

    I wear a pair of shoes for about 3 years, but having a big  diversity I can’t say that I wear a pair for more than 2 consecutive days.

    As you said, the shoes do not have an expiration date but this happens at some point.

    Fortunately, style and fashion change every day, and this makes it easy for us to find new slippers that we like more. I hope to see many article like this and read it. Wish you all the best! 

    Reply
    • Thank you Nimrodngy.

      You are right, shoes don’t actually have an expiry date.

      Some shoes last longer and some don’t last long at all.

      For example: The same shoe kept in storage for 2 years is going to perform better than the exact same shoe that’s been worn for the last 2 years.

      Hence why there’s not an expiry date on shoes.

      Reply
  2. Hi, yeah, I kinda have my own personal experience as a teenager. I received some shoes, put them on a couple of times and then stored them . Guess what happened 4 years later when I took them out? I couldn’t even leave the house, LOL. They had more than expired.

    Reply
    • That’s definitely going to happen, lol. People think just because it’s been in storage that it’s “preserving” them and going to be good to go years down the line.

      Well that’s not the case!

      Reply
  3. Thank you, I didn’t know that you should leave the shoes out in the open air, I keep mine in a box underneath my bed. I always thought it was better to keep them away from the light and in a cool place, like the dark in the original packaging. As far as the shoes depreciating, that’s only true once you wear them; there are certain sneakers that sell for thousands of dollars when the original purchase price was only $150-$200, so I can’t agree with you completely on that one. 

    Reply
    • Hey Joshua.

      Storing them under your bed in a dark place with no air is not a good idea but I hope you fix that asap.

      Although the shoes appear to appreciate in value over time, those hardly ever sell. Just because they have a high price tag, that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed sale.

      Reply
  4. Hi Brandon, this is really a very interesting article! Would never have thought one could write about shoes..! 

    I do agree that you have to change the shoes you’re wearing regularly, but I was wondering if you had any experience of soles of shoes cracking / splitting either below the ball of the foot, or just in front of the back section, OR would this just be due to low quality materials used? Each person walks differently, and I’m not sure if there is a way that one could do something about this to maybe save your shoes as well. Any thoughts on this?

    Reply
    • Hey Andre.

      You can’t really do much as that is the outsole wearing down (an inevitable thing to happen when you wear it).

      The best thing you could do is spend a little more money the next time you shop for another shoe, and make sure the outsole has high-abrasion resistance.

      Reply
  5. I actually have a few pairs of shoes which I like a lot and wear them on special occasions only. After a few years, the insole came off and the whole shoes are hardened. I still keep them because I like them 🙂

    Even though the shoe does not expire, but after some time in the storage, it is not wearable anymore.

    Thank you for the interesting information.

    Reply
    • You are absolutely right Christine,

      They don’t expire but they will not be good enough to wear anymore, especially not after years in storage.

      Most people don’t know this, so I’m glad I can get the word out 🙂

      Reply
  6. You provided an extremely well considered answer that has gone into an amazing amount of scientifically credible explanation. Do you have much experience of people keeping shoes for the length of time that you allude to without wearing them? It seems incredible to me.

    Hamish

    Reply
    • Yep, people do it all the time, especially when it comes to designers and limited edition shoes. People want to hold on to them as a collector item and try sell them for more later.

      Reply
  7. That is so true. Shoes are not made to last forever. I think most of us buy too many shoes at once just because they’re on a trend or they are unique. I bought a $139 Timberland suede leather boots 13 years ago. I hardly wear it. It is now on the shoe rack catching dust. I also have some Nike’s which I don’t wear. Now as I look back, I wish I could go back in time and change my mind. The one’s I buy now, I sell them within two years of wearing them when I have a garage sale. Yes,  providing they’re in good shape, people do buy them.

    Reply
    • Yep, of course people would buy shoes that look like they’re in good condition. They think they’re getting a bargain, lol.

      Personally I think it’s degrading handing your WORN shoes down to someone else. It says “f*ck you, have my hand-me-downs”.

      But that’s just me.

      Reply

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