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How Often Should I Rotate Pairs of Shoes?

Or more to the point, what kind of fungal nightmare am I cultivating if I want to wear the same ones everyday?

I have this habit where, once I find a pair of shoes that I really like, I either wear them into the ground or until someone I love shames me into switching them up. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. Whether it was a pair of Vans or my Jordans, I wore them day-in, day-out, until my parents more or less forced me to abandon them for something else. “You need to let your shoes breathe,” they’d tell me, amongst other things to convince me to finally free my latest beloved pair from my oft-sockless feet.

But I’m hardly alone in my desire to wear the same pair of shoes daily. As one redditor noted a few years ago, he buys new $60 Nike running shoes every year and wears them until it’s time to buy another. Which, of course, begs the question: What’s wrong with that anyway?

For starters, you’ll get no argument from me that a nice pair of leather shoes need time to recuperate, especially if you want to hold onto them for years to come. “The best way to extend the life of your shoes is to rotate them and use quality shoe trees after each wear,” Jim Kass, of the fancy footwear retailer Allen Edmonds, told Insider in 2017. “If you wear the same pair every day, your shoes don’t have ample time to dry, and they won’t maintain their shape.” 

For gym shoes, however? It really depends on how much of the letter of the law (or podiatry) that you want to follow. Because as James Christina, CEO of the American Podiatric Medical Association, told The Today Show, your feet would basically have to sweat a shit-ton for your shoes to need to air out for longer than overnight. Still, it would be negligent on my part to ignore that he also said, “In general, it’s not a bad idea to alternate shoes if they’re moist. It helps to inhibit fungus.”

Kourosh Harounian, a podiatrist in L.A., agrees with him — with the caveat that it really depends on how much a person sweats as well as what sort of activities they’re doing throughout the day. “For the average person who wears their shoes to and from the office, it’s a good idea to give your shoes at least a day to dry up,” he tells me. “Alternatively, there are some UV lights that help sanitize shoes more quickly.” 

He says, though, that the most important thing is to not allow a moist, humid environment to cultivate. “That could lead to a fungal infection — especially if you’re the kind of person who’s genetically predisposed to sweating more from your feet,” he explains. 

But again, if you’re working in an office setting — that is, not running marathons or doing vigorous, back-breaking manual labor — you’re probably okay. So don’t let anybody walk all over you in the shoes they so haughtily switch out every other day and tell you otherwise.

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