Cleaning your leather shoes will keep them looking great and increase their life! Besides regular cleanings, you should clean them immediately when they get soiled to prevent caked on dirt and stains. If your shoes are made of suede, be sure to read the special instructions at the end of this article – they require special care!
What You’ll Need:
- Soft cloth
- Shoe brush
- Saddle soap or commercial shoe cleaner
- White vinegar
- Shoe polish
- Leather conditioner
- Art gum eraser (for suede only)
Cleaning Leather Shoes
- Brush off dirt and debris with a soft cloth or brush. Consider doing this every time after wearing your shoes. This will make it easier to buff and polish them later.
- Remove the laces from your shoes to prevent getting water or polish on them. If they need to be cleaned, pop them into the washing machine with a load of laundry.
- Rub away scuffs with some water and saddle soap on a soft cloth. Careful not to get the leather too wet. It is better to do two applications with less water and soap. You can also use a commercial leather shoe cleaner (available in most shoe retailers). Suitable products may also be found where leather purses and handbags are sold.
- WARNING: Never place leather shoes in the sun to dry—this can cause discoloration.
- Remove salt stains from leather shoes by mixing a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Blot the solution all over the shoes with a clean, soft cloth and repeat as many times as necessary until all the salt is gone.
- Polish your shoes at least once a month or whenever needed (cream polish is best for maintaining leather). Before you begin, lay newspaper over your workspace for easy cleanup. First, test the polish on an inconspicuous area to make sure it does not cause discoloration. Then use a clean, soft cloth to apply the polish in a circular motion across the entire shoe. Be careful around stitching that may be a different color. When you’re finished, take another clean soft cloth and remove the polish in a circular motion.
- For a quick, no-hassle shine, try wiping your shoes with a Swiffer sheet!
- Buff your shoes after they’ve dried by, again, using a soft, cloth in circular motions. If you want them to shine, put a few drops of water on the cloth before you buff.
- Use a leather conditioner or leather lotion at least twice a year to keep your shoes soft and supple. Without this treatment, leather shoes can dry out and cracks may appear.
- Take special care with suede or nubuck shoes. Do not use products designed for regular leather as this may ruin suede. For spots, try using an art gum eraser. If this doesn’t work, try some undiluted white vinegar on a soft cloth. Never rub suede—always blot! Once the spot is removed, brush the shoe and let dry.
- Clean or deodorize the inside of your shoes. This can be done with an absorbent powder, such as salt or baking soda. Simply pour in some powder (about 1/4 cup) and shake it around to ensure it coats the inside of the shoe well. Let the powder sit for several hours or overnight; it will absorb the oils, dirt, moisture, and odors. Dump the powder out and if any residue remains, use a vacuum hose to remove it. Another option is to put a dryer sheet inside each shoe overnight, which will remove the