How to Use a Shoehorn Effectively: A Step by Step Guide (2023)

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how to use a shoehorn

1. The Purpose and Importance of Using a Shoehorn

A shoehorn is a simple tool that is used to help slide the foot into a shoe without causing any damage to the back of the shoe or straining the foot. It is typically made of plastic, metal, or horn and has a curved shape that mimics the natural contour of the heel. The primary purpose of using a shoehorn is to make it easier to put on shoes, especially those with tight or narrow openings.

Using a shoehorn can prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your shoes by reducing friction between your foot and the shoe’s heel counter. This can help prolong the lifespan of your shoes and keep them looking newer for longer. Additionally, using a shoehorn can also reduce strain on your feet and ankles when putting on shoes, particularly if you have mobility issues or conditions such as arthritis.

Importance of Using a Shoehorn:

  • Protects the back of your shoes from damage
  • Reduces friction between your foot and the shoe
  • Eases strain on your feet and ankles
  • Prolongs the lifespan of your shoes
  • Makes it easier to put on tight or narrow shoes

Benefits for Foot Health:

In addition to its practical benefits for putting on shoes, using a shoehorn can also have positive effects on foot health. By reducing strain and pressure when slipping into shoes, it can help prevent discomfort, blisters, and even potential injuries such as sprains or strains. For individuals with certain foot conditions like bunions or hammertoes, using a shoehorn can provide relief by minimizing friction and allowing for an easier fit into shoes.

Overall, using a shoehorn is a small but significant step in promoting foot health and maintaining the condition of your shoes. It is a simple tool that can make a big difference in your daily shoe-wearing routine.

2. Proper Technique: How to Hold a Shoehorn for Effective Usage

While using a shoehorn may seem straightforward, there is actually a proper technique to ensure effective usage. Holding the shoehorn correctly allows for better control and stability when inserting your foot into the shoe. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Grasp the handle or grip of the shoehorn firmly with your dominant hand.
  2. Position your thumb on top of the handle, near the curved end of the shoehorn.
  3. Hold the other end of the shoehorn against the back of your shoe, ensuring it is aligned with the heel counter.
  4. Keep a firm grip on the shoehorn as you gently slide your foot into the shoe, using it as a guide to prevent friction or damage to the shoe’s interior.
  5. Once your foot is fully inside, carefully remove the shoehorn by sliding it out from between your foot and the shoe.

Remember to maintain a steady and controlled movement throughout this process to avoid any accidental slips or injuries. Practice holding and using a shoehorn before attempting to put on shoes for optimal results.

Tips for Holding a Shoehorn:

  • Grip the handle firmly for better control
  • Position your thumb near the curved end for stability

Maintaining Stability:

By holding the shoehorn properly, you can maintain stability and ensure that your foot slides smoothly into the shoe. This technique also helps prevent the shoehorn from slipping out of your hand during the process, allowing for a seamless shoe-wearing experience.

3. Step-by-Step Guide: Using a Shoehorn to Put on Your Shoes

Step 1: Choose the Right Shoehorn

Before you begin using a shoehorn, it’s important to select the right one for your needs. Look for a shoehorn that is made of sturdy material like metal or durable plastic. It should also have a smooth surface to prevent any damage to your shoes. Additionally, consider the length of the shoehorn based on your mobility and shoe type.

Step 2: Position the Shoehorn

To start using a shoehorn, hold it firmly in one hand with your thumb on top and fingers underneath for better control. Place the curved end of the shoehorn against the back of your shoe, ensuring it is aligned with the heel counter.

Step 3: Slide Your Foot In

Gently push your foot into the shoe while holding onto the shoehorn. The smooth surface of the shoehorn will help guide your foot into position without causing any discomfort or damaging the shoe’s structure.


  • If you encounter resistance while sliding your foot in, try wiggling it slightly or adjusting the angle of the shoehorn to find a comfortable fit.
  • If you have difficulty bending down or reaching your feet, consider using a long-handled shoehorn or one with an extended grip for easier access.

4. Best Shoe Types for Using a Shoehorn: A Suitable Match

A shoehorn can be beneficial for various types of shoes, but some are particularly well-suited for this tool:

Dress Shoes

When it comes to formal footwear like dress shoes, using a shoehorn is highly recommended. Dress shoes often have a snug fit and can be challenging to put on without causing damage or creasing the back of the shoe. A shoehorn helps maintain the shoe’s shape while allowing for effortless wearing.


Boots, especially those with high shafts or tight openings, can be difficult to slip into. Using a shoehorn ensures that your foot glides smoothly into the boot without any struggle or discomfort. It also prevents unnecessary wear and tear on the boot’s structure.

Tight-Fitting Shoes

If you have shoes that are known for their narrow fit or require some effort to put on, a shoehorn can be your best friend. The gentle leverage provided by a shoehorn makes it easier to slide your foot into these types of shoes without straining your hands or damaging the shoe’s material.

Athletic Shoes

While athletic shoes usually have more flexible uppers than dress shoes or boots, using a shoehorn can still be beneficial. It helps maintain the shape of the heel counter and prevents unnecessary wear and tear when putting them on.

5. Common Mistakes When Using a Shoehorn and How to Avoid Them

1. Using too much force:

One common mistake when using a shoehorn is applying excessive force while inserting your foot into the shoe. This can lead to discomfort or even injury, especially if you have sensitive feet or are wearing tight-fitting shoes. To avoid this, gently slide the shoehorn into the back of your shoe and allow it to guide your foot in smoothly.

2. Incorrect positioning:

Another mistake is not positioning the shoehorn properly before use. Make sure the curved end of the shoehorn is placed against the back of your shoe, with the handle facing outward for easy grip. This ensures that you get maximum leverage and reduces the risk of damaging your shoes or injuring yourself.

Tips to avoid these mistakes:

  • Choose a shoehorn with a comfortable handle grip to maintain control.
  • If you’re having difficulty inserting your foot, consider using a longer shoehorn for better reach.
  • Take your time and be patient when using a shoehorn, especially if you’re new to it.

6. Alternatives to Shoehorns: Other Methods and Tools

In addition to traditional shoehorns, there are several alternative methods and tools available for putting on shoes without straining or bending over excessively.

1. Slip-on shoes:

A great alternative to using a shoehorn is opting for slip-on shoes that don’t require any assistance for wearing them. Slip-on shoes are convenient and save time, making them an excellent choice for those who struggle with mobility issues or simply want a hassle-free shoe-wearing experience.

2. Shoe stretchers:

If you have shoes that are slightly tight and difficult to put on, consider using shoe stretchers. These tools can expand the width and length of your shoes, making it easier to slide your foot in without the need for excessive force or a shoehorn.

Other alternatives include:

  • Using a plastic bag over your foot to reduce friction when sliding into tight shoes.
  • Utilizing long-handled shoe horns for extra reach and ease of use.
  • Trying elastic shoelaces that allow you to slip your feet in and out without tying them.

7. Removing Shoes with Ease: The Technique with a Shoehorn

A shoehorn is not only useful for putting on shoes but also for removing them effortlessly. Follow these steps to remove your shoes with ease using a shoehorn:

1. Position the shoehorn:

Hold the handle of the shoehorn firmly and place the curved end against the back of your shoe, just like when inserting your foot. Ensure that the handle is facing outward for easy grip.

2. Slide out your foot:

Gently push down on the handle while keeping it against the back of your shoe. This will create enough space between your heel and the shoe’s counter, allowing you to slide out your foot smoothly without any discomfort or damage to either yourself or the shoe.

8. Tips for Maintaining and Cleaning Your Shoehorn for Longevity

To ensure that your shoehorn lasts longer and remains effective, follow these maintenance and cleaning tips:

1. Regularly clean your shoehorn:

Wipe your shoehorn with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that may accumulate over time. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the surface of the shoehorn.

2. Store it properly:

When not in use, store your shoehorn in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This helps prevent discoloration or warping of the material, ensuring its longevity.

Tips for maintaining your shoehorn:

  • Avoid bending or twisting the shoehorn excessively as it can weaken or break it.
  • If your shoehorn has a leather strap or loop for hanging, use it to keep it organized and easily accessible.
  • Inspect your shoehorn regularly for any signs of wear and tear. Replace it if necessary to maintain optimal functionality.

9. Safety Precautions to Keep in Mind While Using a Shoehorn

While using a shoehorn is generally safe, it’s essential to take some precautions to avoid accidents or injuries:

1. Be mindful of sharp edges:

Check your shoehorn for any sharp edges that could potentially cause cuts or scratches while handling it. If you notice any rough spots, gently file them down or consider replacing the shoehorn.

2. Use caution with metal shoehorns:

Metal shoehorns can become slippery when wet, so exercise caution when using them in wet conditions to prevent slipping and potential injuries.

Safety tips when using a shoehorn:

  • Always hold the shoehorn securely to maintain control and prevent it from slipping out of your hand.
  • Avoid using excessive force or sudden movements that could lead to accidents or injuries.
  • If you have any foot conditions or injuries, consult with a healthcare professional before using a shoehorn to ensure it won’t aggravate your condition.

10. Enhanced Mobility and Foot Condition Benefits of Using a Shoehorn

Using a shoehorn offers several benefits beyond convenience:

1. Reduced strain on joints:

By using a shoehorn, you can minimize bending over and straining your back, hips, and knees while putting on shoes. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis, limited mobility, or joint pain.

2. Preserved shoe shape:

A shoehorn helps maintain the shape of your shoes by preventing unnecessary crushing or deformation of the heel counter. This ensures that your shoes retain their original form and last longer.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved independence for individuals with mobility issues or disabilities.
  • Reduced risk of damaging shoes by forcing them on without proper assistance.
  • Promotion of foot hygiene by allowing easy insertion and removal of shoes for cleaning purposes.

In conclusion, using a shoehorn is a simple yet effective technique that can greatly assist in putting on shoes without damaging them or straining one’s back. Incorporating this tool into our daily routine can save time and effort, ensuring a comfortable and convenient shoe-wearing experience.

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