Leather shoes of good quality can last a long time if properly cared for. Here is all you need to know about how to care for leather shoes and how to make them look good and feel good.
Many people simply don’t know how to care for leather shoes. In my opinion, looking like a gentleman starts with taking care of yourself and the way you present yourself. No one has ever managed to look stylish wearing a pair of untidy shoes.
Just like you, your shoes need some time off. Give them at least one day off before using them again. If your shoes have been wet, give them two-three days and a good shine to restore the leather.
How to clean leather shoes
Your shoes should be cleaned before you put them away. Use a moist cloth and let them dry at room temperature. To remove salt stains, use a mild solution of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water. Scuff marks can often be removed by using an eraser.
Want to take your shoes to the next level? Read Make your shoelaces stand out.
Use shoe trees
You need as many shoe trees as you have shoes. There is a reason why they are called shoe trees. They should all be made of wood. Their function is not only to uphold the form of your shoes but also to draw the moist out of the leather, therefore make sure they are unvarnished. The cheap plastic shoe trees are only usable for those occasions when you want to save weight when traveling.
You should make it a habit of putting the shoe trees into your shoes as soon as you take them off, this way your shoes will dry gently and keep their original form.
How to protect leather shoes
Get a pair of galoshes. This is by far the best way to keep your shoes dry and free of dirt. If you are using leather soles, a pair of galoshes is a must when it rains and in the winter. If I know that I’m going to have a day with a lot of walking and indoor work, I sometimes choose a pair of shoes with rubber soles since galoshes are unpractical to put on and take off several times a day.
What to do if your leather shoes are soaking wet
Fill them with crumpled newspaper. Do not leave them on a heated floor or close to any heat source; this might cause the leather to dry up and crack.
Any good brand of shoe cream will do as long as it is not the type that comes with a sponge. The sponge type contains too little oil and color.
You need only three colors, black, brown and neutral. Make sure that the brown matches the shade of your shoes.
The sponge type is OK to use as your daily shine, just to get the dust off your shoes, or when traveling.
How to shine your leather shoes
The tools you need:
- Moist cloth.
- Welt brush or old toothbrush. The welt is the seam that joins the upper leather with the sole.
- Shoe cream.
- Shoe brush for applying the shoe cream.
- Polishing brush.
- Lint-free polishing cloth. Nylon is the best material.
- For that extra shine, you will need bee wax. (Optional.)
How to shine your shoes:
- Wipe any dust from your shoes with the cloth.
- Clean your welt with the welt brush of choice.
- Apply shoe cream evenly on both shoes. You have to really work it into the leather. If you have contrasting shoelaces, make sure that you do not get any cream on your laces
- Let the cream dry.
- Use your polishing brush to remove any excess cream.
- Finish by giving your shoes a thorough rubbing with the polishing cloth.
- If you want, this is the time to bring out the wax. I would recommend The Shoe Snob Blog for instructions on how to use the wax.
Visit an expert
If you’re in a big city and find a guy that shines shoes and has local customers, you probably have found the local expert on how to care for leather shoes. Don’t be shy. Have him shine your shoes, watch how he does it and make sure to give him a good tip. It’s not every day you get to learn from an expert.