In this guide:
- How to clean leather shoes
- How to make your shoes shine
- What if my leather shoes get wet?
- How to keep leather shoes from cracking
- How to protect white leather shoes
- How to keep leather shoes from smelling
- Can I stop leather shoes squeaking?
- Repairing, resoling and restoring leather
Many of us express our personality through our shoes. Whether you’re at school, work or on a night out – your shoes reflect who you are. This is why it’s important to look after your footwear, especially if you own a pair of leather shoes or boots. Here are our top tips on how to maintain leather shoes.
How to clean leather shoes
While it’s important to know how to clean your leather shoes, it’s also good to be aware of when they need attention, too. This requires an understanding of the best maintenance techniques as well as the products that can help.
If you’re cleaning children’s leather shoes, you’ll likely have to deal with mud, scuff marks, dirty laces and the rest. If it’s your favourite pair for work or on-the-go, you’ll be proactively trying to maintain your shoes to keep them looking good long-term.
Quick guide to cleaning leather shoes
Keeping leather shoes in tip-top condition is no easy task. Learn how to clean leather shoes with this step-by-step guide:
- Remove the laces and wash separately if needed.
- Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any loose dirt from your shoes.
- Mix washing-up liquid with warm water and apply to the leather.
- Use another damp cloth to remove the soap from the leather.
- Apply leather conditioner.
- Allow your shoes to dry naturally (do not apply heat).
How to make your leather shoes shine
To make your leather shoes shine, buy conditioner or make your own using vinegar and linseed oil at a ratio of 1:2. Once you have the solution ready:
- Apply it to your shoes.
- Wait 15 minutes.
- Remove the conditioner with a soft cloth until your shoes begin to shine.
Ideally, you should polish your shoes after you’ve cleaned, dried and conditioned them. This will really help to bring out the shine and keep them looking their best.
✔ Top tip: Make sure your polish matches the colour of your leather shoes for the best results.
What if my leather shoes get wet?
The worst culprit of shoe damage is water. When leather shoes get wet, they can develop stains as tide marks become visible. To fix this, take a damp cloth and slowly rub the edge of the mark to soften its appearance. Then allow your shoes to dry.
Brand new shoes are usually waterproof, so you will only need to do this after you’ve worn them for a while. You can also buy polishes with waterproofing properties to provide protection and shine at the same time.
How to keep leather shoes from cracking
While stains are only superficial, water damage can seriously affect the lifespan of your leather shoes. When leather gets wet it can dry out and crack – and often this can’t be repaired. To keep your leather shoes from cracking, avoid direct heat and apply a leather balm or cream regularly.
Quick guide to preventing leather shoes from cracking
Here’s a step-by-step guide to protecting your leather shoes from cracking or coming apart if they get wet:
- Towel-dry any excess water from the outside of the shoe.
- Insert scrunched-up newspaper or a small towel inside.
- Replace the newspaper and small towel every hour until all the moisture is drawn out.
- Keep your shoes away from a heat source – they should ideally be stored at room temperature.
How to protect white leather shoes
You can protect your white leather shoes in much the same way as any other leather shoe. However, there are some specific tips and tricks which will help you keep them looking their best, including:
- Using white nail polish to reduce the appearance of any scuffs or scratches.
- Applying a protective spray to reduce the risk of water damage and stop dirt sticking to the material.
Follow our guide to how to clean white shoes for more information.
How to keep leather shoes from smelling
Here’s the bad news: all shoes worn often enough will eventually smell. Leather shoes are no different.
Here is the good news: they don’t have to.
The benefit of leather is that it’s more breathable than other materials. But there is a reason why leather shoes smell. That‘s because the leather grains absorb more than other materials, producing unpleasant odours that cling to your shoes.
Here are three useful remedies which may come in handy when your leather shoes start to smell:
- Wear socks that won’t cause your feet to sweat too much.
- Use a leather shoe deodoriser to prevent smells making their way into your shoes.
- Fight existing smells with a shoe sanitiser made specifically for leather shoes.
Can I stop leather shoes squeaking?
Squeaking shoes can be both irritating and embarrassing, but thankfully this is a relatively easy problem to solve. Squeaking is usually caused by sections of the shoe rubbing against each other. A quick and easy solution is to apply baby powder to the sole and around the edges of the inner sole. This makes the sections more slippery, which can prevent friction and reduce squeaking.
Repairing, resoling and restoring leather shoes
When your shoes are in need of repair, one of the most common issues you can fix is a worn sole. You’ll know if you need to resole your leather shoes if:
- The centre of the sole feels weak and spongy.
- The sole appears worn out.
- There are holes on the sole.
Resoling leather shoes is a good idea if the upper is in good condition. This is a job you’ll need to visit a cobbler for – half soles are good for heels, while you’ll want full soles for flat shoes. You can resole leather shoes several times over the course of their lifetime.
You can also restore leather shoes if they’ve become damaged by rain, snow and sun. Here’s how to restore leather shoes if they’ve begun to crack.
- Wash your shoes with saddle soap and as little water as possible.
- Let the shoes dry naturally (do not apply any heat).
- Stuff the shoe with newspaper to retain its shape.
Of course, there can be numerous types of repairs your shoes require. Visit a shoe repair specialist for further advice.
Now you have all the information you need to keep your leather shoes in tip-top condition and to hold onto your favourite pair for as long as possible. If you treat your footwear with the care it needs, you’ll ultimately get much more wear out of them.
For more advice on how to protect your leather shoes during the harsh winter months, check out our guide to winter proofing your shoes.