Shoelace Maintenance

Proper care of this undervalued piece of equipment is literally make or break for every runner. Just a few hours every week will do it!

Schedule weekly checkups. Plan a shoestring repair routine once every seven days. Some so-called experts suggest a full-scale inspection and cleaning only every other week. This foolhardy advice leads to filthy results and a greatly increased risk of breakage.

Removal. Remove laces from shoes. Gently. Show your strings the respect they deserve. Resist the urge to speed up the removal process by pulling through more than one eyelet at a time. Hasty, excessively forceful removal damages structural integrity of both lace and hole.

Inspection. Create a dedicated lace-inspection station in your home. Equip it with a bright fluorescent light, dental picks, tweezers, a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe. On a matte-painted work surface (to cut down glare) study both sides of each lace, end to end. With tweezers and picks, remove burrs, dirt clumps, and other debris. Examine the weave for frays.

Brushing. Borrow your eight-year-old son’s Power Rangers toothbrush. Let’s face it: It is rare that he actually uses this brush on his teeth and when he does it is only in the most cursory fashion, so you know there is plenty of life left in those soft, round-tipped bristles. Brush laces with the care you would a prized horse after a long workout. 

Cleaning. Use a soft cloth dipped in a small bowl of 100-degree water and a few drops of concentrated lace cleaner. Full submersion of laces is not recommended as it can degrade naturally occurring essential oils in nylon lace fibers. If chamois, silk, or velvet work rags are unavailable, borrow a well-used intimate that won’t be missed from your significant other’s underwear drawer.

Tip repair. Don’t ignore your aglets, the plastic or metal tips on the ends of your laces. If you notice splits, tears, or other degradations, it’s time to bring your damaged shoestring to your licensed neighborhood lace repair shop. Aglet adjustments are not for amateurs and require specialized training and equipment.

Lubrication. Squirrel’s Nut Butter, the famed all natural Anti-chafe and Restorative Skin Salve, is not just for protecting sensitive spots on an athlete’s body. The lightest of coatings on your laces restores a factory finish, adds water repellency, and reduces friction at knot point and eyelet turns.

Relacing. Your laces are now ready for a return to your shoes. Work them gently through eyelets with a view to creating a regular weave pattern on your shoe’s tongue. With practice, you will be able to establish correct tension in this crucial final step. 

Remember: Nothing puts the fear into an opponent (or boost’s a shoe owner’s confidence) than the glimpse of a clean, well-strung pair of shoelaces.