I have an issue with excessive sweat in my feet, and separately I have noticed my shoes no matter the quality, function or use-profile do not last more than a year, often less.

It's been suggested to me that it could be that my sweat is accelerating the breakdown of the stitching. I've read this is possible with salt water, but can this happen with sweat as well.

I'm trying to figure out whether I need (even) better shoes or if I need to find some (other) way of preventing foot sweat.

  • In my experience, the stitching/seams break down from mechanical causes (lots of brambles over here make every boot look nubuk after a while and transforms jeans -> velvet -> rags). Sweat can weaken the leather, though: wet leather is very soft and mechanically weak and that may cause the leather to tear at the seam holes. That would be the inner lining leather. What helps here is a) synthetic inner lining, b) rotating boots so they can always properly dry (impossible with longer backpacking tours, though) and lots of leather grease/wax also for inner leather lining. Jul 10, 2019 at 11:44
  • @cbeleites While it could be mechanical, I thought walking boots, if only used day to day not on say hiking or the like would last longer than a year. The other caveat is that these may not be leather shoes. Jul 10, 2019 at 13:33
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    According to this very old article (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1258937/?page=4) the thing that really damages textiles is bacteria, which happen to love wet salty environments. Sweat is usually pretty salty, and your feet have lots of bacteria, so this could be a cause.
    – jhch
    Jul 10, 2019 at 20:01
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    (side not, not directly answering your question) I know climbers who use large silica gel packets to absorb sweat in shoes after use to prevent the stank--this might help with longevity too.
    – jhch
    Jul 10, 2019 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if your excess sweat would specifically dissolve the stitching, but it could definitely compromise leather shoes in general and promote conditions that degrade stitching.

Back in the 80's Sperry Docksiders (think leather moccasin-like laced boat shoes typically worn without socks) came with a suggestion to have two pairs and alternate them daily. Of course this could have just been marketing, but the reason given was that alternating two pairs would give each the chance to dry between wearings. This would allow those two pairs to last considerably longer than two pairs purchased and worn one after the other until they wore out.

Damp shoes will allow dust and dirt to stick and make their way into stitching. These act as micro abrasives and will definitely accelerate degradation of the stitching.

  • Eeeek. I was in a posh-ish high school in the early 80s. Looked around one day: 13 students in class. 12 pairs of Docksiders, 12 Lacoste Polo shirts. And me, probably in ratty sneakers and some heavy metal concert shirt. Oct 29, 2020 at 18:38
  • Yes, standard yacht club fare. Also standard issue uniform for those of us less fortunate who had jobs working on and around the boats - mustn't scuff the deck!
    – That Idiot
    Oct 29, 2020 at 19:21
  • Was this a school too posh for a Brooks Brothers polo shirt?
    – ab2
    Oct 29, 2020 at 21:50
  • @ab2 I'm still not posh enough to know what Brooks Brothers are or were, even though I now have some polo shirts. Oct 30, 2020 at 19:47

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