7 Tips to Help You Weatherproof Your Shoes for Winter

iStock.com/Barringtonhd
iStock.com/Barringtonhd

The rain, ice, snow, and slush of winter—not to mention salted sidewalks and roads—are hard on footwear. But a storm shouldn’t stop you from wearing your favorite kicks. Here are seven tips for weatherproofing your shoes for bad weather.

1. Don’t immediately reach for the waterproofing spray.

While completely waterproofing your shoes may sound like the best option, in reality, it will leave you with very sweaty feet. Waterproofing sprays create a barrier to ensure that nothing can pass through the material—but that also means that your shoes won’t breathe, creating a little pocket of hot, sweaty air around your foot. You probably want to look for something that will make your shoes water-resistant instead. If you’re going to be standing in a puddle for a decent amount of time, just go ahead and wear your rain boots.

2. Pay attention to material.

You’ll need to approach weatherproofing your shoes differently depending on what material they are. Whatever water-repelling spray you choose, read the label to make sure it will work on the pair of shoes you’re using. While waxes work on leather shoes, sprays are better for suede or fabric. Some shoes—namely, patent leather ones—can’t handle water-resistant sprays at all.

You can definitely find water-repelling sprays that will work for most of the shoes in your closet, though. The highly rated Tarrago Hightech Nano Protector spray works for leather, suede, nubuck (the sanded leather often found in work boots), and textiles like velvet. One warning: If the shoes aren’t black or dark brown, make sure to test a bit of the spray on an inconspicuous area of the shoe first, because some sprays can change the color of the material.

3. Clean and condition first.

Before you try to snow-proof your footwear, you want to make sure those shoes are completely clean, whether you’re waterproofing your hiking boots, running shoes, or designer suede. Otherwise, you’ll just be sealing in dirt. You can use a cloth to dust off any debris, then apply a cleaning solution. Some experts recommend using simple dish soap on leather, but you can also get solutions specifically designed for premium shoes, like this one from the sneakerhead-oriented shoecare company Jason Markk. If you’re working with leather shoes, you should use a conditioner to moisturize the leather and keep it from drying out and cracking, applying a layer while the shoe is still wet from cleaning. According to The Wirecutter’s tests, the French-made Saphir Renovateur is the best conditioner on the market. Then, once that whole process is finished, go ahead and apply the protectant spray or wax.

4. Use vinegar to take care of salt stains.

Salt stains happen, but you can mitigate the damage with a little bit of white vinegar. The Spruce recommends a mixture of 1 cup cold water and 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar. Use a white towel or cotton balls to apply the diluted vinegar to salt stains. The acid will dissolve the salt, and the stains will disappear. The technique works best on fresh stains, though, so try to take care of the issue as soon as you can.

5. Get a brush.

Keeping your shoes looking their best is an ongoing process. You should brush grime off your shoes regularly—ideally after every wear. It’s an easy way to remove dirt, mud, and salt before they build up and stain the material. It may seem like a lot of work in the moment, but it will save you time scrubbing at those stains later.

For leather, The Wirecutter recommends the Hanger Project’s medium horsehair brush ($15) for leather shoes, citing its quality construction and high bristle density. You’ll want something a little different for more delicate materials. For fuzzy fabrics like velvet, Racked recommends the very reasonably priced Evercare Magik brush.

6. Pay attention to the seams.

For the most thorough protection against the elements, pay extra attention to where the sole meets the top of the shoe and any other seams where water might get in. Backpackers and outdoorsy types swear by the beeswax-based Sno-Seal. You apply that one with a rag or a gloved hand, so it's easy to dab a bit extra around the seams compared to the rest of the boot.

7. Spray gently.

When using a water-resistant spray, you don’t want to deluge your shoes. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before spraying, but in general, most sprays should be applied at least 8 inches away from the shoe to get a more even application of the product. Let the shoes dry thoroughly before you go out in the elements. How long this weatherproofing lasts will depend on the spray, the shoe material, the weather, and how often you wear your shoes, so again, check the instructions on your particular product to figure out how long your shoes will remain protected from the elements. You may only need to wipe your work boots down with Snow-Seal once a year, for instance, while you probably will have to reapply the Tarrago Nano Protector Spray to your vintage velvet ballet slippers more often.

10 Simple Tricks for Charging Your Smartphone Faster

Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images
Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images

Smartphones always seem to reach low power at the least convenient moments possible. If you've ever urged your device to charge faster in the minutes before a phone interview or when you're about to board a plane, you can relate. While the easiest way to avoid this scenario is to plug in your device before the battery dips into the danger zone, if you've already reached this point, there are simple ways to speed up the charging process.

Some hacks for charging a phone faster involve steps you can take in anticipation of the next time you're surviving on minimum energy. Certain gadgets, like special chargers and battery packs, will power-up your device more efficiently than others. For moments when your phone is dying and all you have is your regular charging cable, adjusting your phone's settings to minimize the power it consumes also works in a pinch.

You can find some specific ways to charge your phone quickly below: 

  1. Plug it into a wall outlet instead of a USB port.
  1. Use a portable battery pack.
  1. Buy a special "fast" phone charger.
  1. Switch to low power mode.
  1. Switch to airplane mode.
  1. Let your phone drain completely on its own once a month to the extend the battery life.
  1. Close any background apps.
  1. Stop automatic app updates.
  1. Don't check your phone while it's charging
  1. Keep your phone out of the heat.

For more tricks for making your phone usage more efficient, check out these tips for typing faster.

The 20 Best States for Singles

monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images
monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images

Being single on Valentine's Day means you don't have to worry about cards, gifts, or date ideas. But if you'd like to do something romantic on February 14, your chances of snagging a date in time may depend on where you live. WalletHub crunched the numbers to create a definitive list of the best states to be single and looking for love in America.

To come up with its rankings, the personal finance site analyzed numerous data points for each state, including the proportion of single adults, nightlife and entertainment opportunities, and economic factors like cost of living. Combined, these qualities paint of picture of where you're most likely to find, afford, and enjoy a date.

Florida secured the number one position with a total score of 69.21 out of 100. Though it comes in 33rd out of the 50 states for economics, it places third for dating opportunities and fourth for romance and fun, earning it the top slot. It's followed by California with a score of 67.41 and Texas with 66.77. You can check out the top 20 states below, and see how all 50 states ranked at WalletHub.

  1. Florida // 69.21
  1. California // 67.41
  1. Texas // 66.77
  1. New York // 65.29
  1. Pennsylvania // 64.61
  1. Ohio // 63.10
  1. Illinois // 62.61
  1. Wisconsin // 61.13
  1. Massachusetts // 59.11
  1. Michigan // 58.56
  1. Arizona // 57.22
  1. New Jersey // 56.71
  1. Georgia // 56.11
  1. Colorado // 56.01
  1. North Carolina // 55.58
  1. Minnesota // 55.42
  1. Virginia // 54.98
  1. Washington // 54.76
  1. Missouri // 54.29
  1. Nevada // 53.64

The world uses Valentine's Day to celebrate romance, but you can take it as an opportunity to embrace singledom in 2020. If that's your plan, here are some vintage tips for living alone to keep in mind.

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