One question I am asked on a surprisingly regular basis is whether or not buying used shoes is a good idea. The quick answer? It depends on the shoes.
Is it safe to buy used shoes?
Mainly, yes – it’s pretty safe to buy used shoes (and it’s a great way to recycle unwanted shoes and stop them going to landfill!). But there are a few important things to consider when buying used shoes.
Firstly, look at the condition of the shoes. Lots of wear and tear means they are unlikely to offer the support and protection that your feet need. This is particularly important when buying ‘flimsier’ footwear such as trainers or canvas shoes.
Secondly, how clean and well maintained are the shoes? Although clean doesn’t always mean good, you should look for signs of previous water damage and consider whether protective coatings on the shoe’s materials, depending on what the shoes are made with.
Check the structure of the shoe, too – overly flexible soles or worn away insoles and heel structures can be signs that the shoes have been overused and aren’t suitable for continued use.
Obviously you need to make sure they fit properly and are comfortable too. The golden rule: if you’re not happy with a pair of shoes, don’t buy them.
Buying used shoes for work
I never recommend buying used footwear for work, whether you need specialist footwear or not.
if you spend a lot of time on your feet – for example, you might work in hospitality or retail – whilst you don’t necessarily need specialist footwear, it’s important you have shoes that provide you with the right comfort and support. At the very least, your feet will be less sore, but you are also preventing possible injuries and strains from inadequate footwear.
It’s especially important to buy new if you require specialist footwear – for example, protective boots for construction workers. Specialist footwear usually have specific safety features or are constructed using special materials. If you buy used specialist shoes or boots, you can’t guarantee the protection or the construction of the shoe is adequate.
Can used shOEs spread bacteria and fungus?!
In short, yes. It’s important to make sure that used footwear has been thoroughly cleaned, sanitised and deodorised before you buy them (and personally, I’d do that myself again before I worn them).
Your shoes can harbour a lot of bacteria both inside and out, especially when they’ve been worn for long periods of time or in conditions where the feet become warm and sweaty. In the same way that you would clean your socks, you should also clean your shoes.
With used shoes, if you’re not happy with the hygiene factor (even with the slightest doubt), don’t do it.
“I’m Only going to wear the used shoes once”
Whether you’re buying used shoes to wear once or one hundred times, you still need to make sure you’re checking them using the tips above.
Of course, you can probably make some adjustments to how stringent you are when checking before buying used shoes, but the most important things to ensure are that any pair of used shoes fit correctly, are comfortable, offer adequate protection and are suitable for the intended use.