Best Way to Clean Leather Shoes

Updated: Jun 29

You love your leather shoes, and you want to keep them beautiful and shiny for years to come. To keep your shoes looking their best, clean them regularly, particularly in harsh weather like snow and ice. Condition them every month or so to moisturize the leather, and then polish them for that lovely sheen.


Cleaning Leather Shoes

1. Remove dirt with a soft cloth. Rub off as much dirt and grime as you can with a clean, dry cloth. Try to scrape off any loose mud, for instance, and wipe away any excess salt.

2. Apply a cleaner with a soft brush. If the cleaner comes with an applicator top, use it to rub the cleaner into the shoe. If it doesn't have one, use a soft brush or cloth to rub it in. Make gentle circles with the brush or cloth. Use a little water when applying saddle soap or other similar soaps.

3. Deal with salt stains using water and vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Gently rub the mixture into the salt stains using a soft cloth or brush. Keep adding the mixture to your shoes to remove the stain.


Polishing Your Footwear

1. Condition your shoes at least every 25 wears. Conditioning helps moisturize the leather. As it dries out, it can crack, leading to damaged shoes. Use a clean cloth to rub the conditioner in using small circular movements. Remove any excess conditioner once you've conditioned the whole shoe.

2. Apply a polish to your shoes once a month for protection. Using light pressure, use circles to add small amounts of polish to the shoe. A soft cloth or horsehair brush is good for this task. Keep applying the polish until you've covered the shoe. Wipe any excess off.

3. Try a spit shine for shiny shoes. For a spit shine, tightly stretch a cloth over your fingers. Add a little bit of water. Rub it over one area on your shoe, which will begin to harden the wax already on it. Keep rubbing until the area shines, and continue with the rest of the shoe.


Storing Leather Shoes

1. Give your shoes a break between wears. Leather tends to absorb moisture from sources like rain, sweat, and dew. Giving your shoes a break between the days you wear them allows them time to dry out.

2. Insert shoe trees when you're not wearing the shoes. Leather can lose its shape if it doesn't have support, particularly if it's wet at all. A shoe tree will draw out some of the moisture and help your shoe keep its shape at the same time.

3. Clean your shoes or have a professional do it before you store them. If you plan on storing your shoes for the summer, clean them first. Otherwise, the stains on them will set in and be nearly impossible to clean when you take them out of storage.

4. Store your shoes in breathable fabric. Leather needs air to help rid itself of moisture. If you place it in a plastic bag, the bag seals that moisture in. Instead, choose something breathable, such as a fabric bag.

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