Leather shoe care is one of the most commonly overlooked factors when deciding on a shoe organization system for the home. Not only do your leather shoes need proper cleaning, but they must also be protected from the elements – heat, in particular, as it dries out the leather. Proper care and storage of your leather shoes will help you avoid “crunchy” leather that cracks when worn.
Here are a few tools we recommend to help get you started:
- Cream polish
- Edge dressing
- Horse hair brush
- Shoe horn
- Shoe tree
- Suede block
- Wax polish
Why Do People Shine Leather Shoes?
Shining leather shoes is not an act of vanity. The shine is really just a side effect of conditioning the leather and polishing it for protection against the elements. This process could take anywhere from a couple minutes to a few hours, depending on whether you want a quick touch-up or a mirror-like shine.
How Often Should I Clean Leather Shoes?
You should brush down your shoes after each wear to remove and dirt or dust that has accumulated during the day. If you have a product to refresh your shoes, such as the Mink Oil Renovator ($17.07) from The Shoe Snob, use that as well. A renovator is to leather what moisturizer is to your skin; it’s important to apply a small amount of product before polishing to avoid drying out your leather. Those of us in Phoenix should consider cleaning and conditioning leather shoes once a month with moderate use to help counteract the arid climate. The frequency can be adjusted for those who wear their leather shoes more or less often.
Full Grain Leather Shoe Care
- Wipe dry with a soft, clean cloth
- Dampen the cloth with warm water and wipe your shoes down again
- Allow leather to dry naturally, without the assistance of sunlight or direct heat sources
- Use a high-quality cream polish that matches your shoe color
- Buff to a shine
- Avoid liquid shoe polish and silicone sprays
Beeswaxed and Oiled Leather Shoe Care
- Wipe gently with a dry cloth
- Apply a cleaner
- Allow leather to dry naturally, without sunlight or direct heat
- Apply leather protector and restorer
Patent Leather Shoe Care
- Clean with a soft, damp cloth and a drop of mild soap
- Use a patent leather cleaner with silicone to restore gloss
Suede and Nubuck Leather Care
- Remove dirt and smudges with a rubber eraser
- Brush lightly with a soft brush
- Brush in the same direction as the grain of your suede to maintain a uniform look
- Avoid wire brushes or polish
- Finish with silicone spray for water/stain resistance
Weatherproofing Leather Shoes
Use a high-quality non-silicone spray or a stain repellant to protect your shoes from the elements. We recommend Scotchgard™ Fabric Protector, Scotchgard™ Suede and Nubuck Protector, Kiwi® Boot Protector, or Grangers Performance Repel. These should help protect your shoes from stains and water damage under even the most extreme weather conditions.
Shaping Leather Shoes
Whether you have new leather shoes or a favorite pair of boots, all your leather footwear will need adjustments at one point or another. Invest in a high-quality cedar shoe tree or boot shaper to keep your footwear in shape. Reshaping by hand is effective to some extent, but will not offer the long-term protection of a wood or plastic shaper.
How to Store Leather Shoes
It is never ideal to store leather shoes for long periods of time due to the maintenance it requires to keep them in good condition. If you do plan to pack your leather shoes away, stuff them with acid-free tissue paper (never newsprint) and wrap your shoes in plastic to help lock the moisture in. This will help them stay fresh and ready to wear when you need them again. Angled shoe shelves can also help keep your favorite pairs on display for everyday wear.
Get more from your leather with proper care. For more tips, tricks and advice, contact the experts at Arizona Garage & Closet Design today.