How To Take Care Of Leather Shoes
There’s no doubt about it, everyone should own at least one pair of good quality leather shoes. You simply can’t go wrong with leather shoes. They look great and tend to outlast their synthetic alternatives. Sure, they cost a little more than a lot of other shoes made from different materials, but you can be sure that with a little care, they will last you an incredibly long time.
You may already have a nice pair of leather shoes sitting in your wardrobe. You’d like to wear them, but you’re worried about ruining them. Get those shoes out of the closet. With this ultimate guide to leather shoe care, you’ll get the most out of your good leather shoes and, who knows, you may decide to add a few more to your collection.
Keep Them Clean
Dirt and grime are natural enemies of all shoes, and leather is really susceptible to damage from excessive dirt. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to check the weather report to decide which shoes you can or can’t wear. Step out in your favorite pair of leather shoes but if they do get dirty, clean them as soon as you can once you return home. Using a soft shoe brush, remove any excess dirt and dust. Follow this with a wipe down using a soft, damp cloth.
If you’ve gotten your shoes considerably dirty, or left mud to dry on them, they will need a little bit of extra cleaning. Once again, brush off as much of the grime as you can. Then using a small amount of a cleaning product like saddle soap and a soft cloth, lather up and give your shoes a good cleaning. Just be sure to follow with a clean, damp cloth until you have removed all traces of soap. Once you have given them a thorough cleaning, let them air dry completely before you wear them again.
Leather shoes with laces can be cleaned in exactly the same way, but you should remove the laces before you start and wash the laces separately. The trick is to avoid getting your shoes too wet so dunking them in a bucket of soapy water isn’t a good idea.
Moisturize Your Shoes
Just like your own skin, leather can also become dry. This means your leather shoes will need a bit of love and attention. Before your leather shoes dry to the point of becoming brittle give them the spa style treatment with an application of leather conditioner. Apply the conditioner to all the leather parts of your shoes using a soft cloth, preferably one specific for polishing shoes. You can use a neutral conditioner as needed, but you should also have specific colored leather conditioners if you have scratches to cover. Once you have applied the leather conditioner, wipe off any excess and let your shoes air dry. Once dry give them a buff with a soft cloth and they’ll look as good as new.
Apply The Polish
You should look at applying leather conditioner at least every few months, possibly more often if you wear them every day or if you work outdoors. However, your shoes will benefit from a quick polish on a more regular basis. Working outdoors, particularly in situations like construction sites will get your leather shoes looking drab pretty fast. You should always check the condition of your shoes before you put them on and give them a quick polish in a corresponding color if there a scratches or a clear polish just to give them a shine. You can apply shoe polish using a soft shoe brush and follow with a buff using a soft cloth. This ritual of caring for leather shoes that are worn on a regular basis will go a long way in prolonging the life of your shoes.
Waterproof Your Shoes
You’ve just bought yourself an expensive pair of leather shoes and you’ve checked the weather report only to find it’s going to rain for the next few days. You can put your new leather shoes back in their box until the weather clears, or you can take measures to protect them. There are literally dozens of waterproofing products available for shoes and they are all simple to use. There are water repellant sprays that you can use. Simply spray the product over the tops of your leather shoes or boots and let them dry before you wear them outdoors. Waterproofing with the spray is convenient and fast. It works great with suede shoes where you may not like the idea of rubbing thick products over the material.
Some of the best waterproofing polishes or conditioners feature beeswax. Beeswax will not only act as a barrier between your shoes and water, it will also condition the leather of your shoes so they will last you longer. Simply apply the beeswax using a small, soft shoe brush and buff with a soft cloth. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a beeswax product on hand, Vaseline is also a handy alternative to weatherproof your leather shoes.
Wet Shoes SOS
You can’t always predict the weather and you may just be unlucky enough to find yourself stepping in large puddles or caught in a torrential downpour that results in you getting your favorite leather shoes drenched. While water is the natural enemy of leather shoes, don’t despair. You won’t need to throw away your shoes as long as you act quickly once you get home. As soon as you can, take off your shoes and remove the laces (if you have them). Rinse them if you need to and wipe them until most of the moisture is gone. All you need to do now is let them dry naturally. You can stuff the insides of your shoes with balled up newspaper or paper towel so they won’t lose their shape as they dry. Let them dry completely before wearing them again and give them a polish if needed. Don’t ever apply heat to speed up the drying process. This could damage your shoes beyond repair.
Store Leather Shoes Properly
No matter how much you love your leather shoes, you may not want to wear them every single day. Most people certainly have more than one pair of shoes and like to change them frequently. The question then is, how should leather shoes be stored when not in use? Do you just dump them all in a storage box until you want to wear them again? You may have a shelf for all of your shoes or you may just line them all up on the bottom of your wardrobe. One thing you don’t want to do is throw all of your shoes haphazardly into a box. Particularly, a closed box as this may become the perfect environment for fungus and bacteria to breed. It’s also going to result in a box full of misshapen shoes.
Store all of your shoes neatly on a shelf, shoe rack or even on the bottom of your wardrobe. However, what is important to remember is that shoes can very quickly lose their shape if they are just left sitting around. Leather shoes, in particular, can and will lose their shape making them stiff and uncomfortable if you don’t wear them regularly. Shoe trees are a great solution for keeping your shoes in their original shape when you aren’t wearing them. They are inexpensive and some models can be adjusted so they fit more snugly inside the shoes. While shoe trees would be beneficial for all of your shoes, they are a must for leather shoes. If you don’t have shoe trees, think of getting some. In the meantime, fill the inside of your leather shoes with wadded balls of newspaper or cloth to maintain their shape.
Double Up On The Soles
When you first buy a new pair of leather shoes, you may notice that soles are quite thin. You can very easily extend the life of your new leather shoes by taking them to your cobbler or shoe repairer and have an additional thin sole added. This is an especially practical measure when the soles of your shoes are smooth and slippery. You can choose a sole that is non-slip making them safer to wear and when it comes time to change your soles again, it is simply a matter of removing the added sole and replacing it. You can do this with most dress shoes and boots to really get lots of wear out of your expensive leather shoes. While the cobbler has your shoes, get him to check the rest of the shoes for any potential problems.
Be Quick To Act
The modern lifestyle is a somewhat hectic one and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get things done. That also means that if we damage our leather shoes in any way, we are more likely to put them back in the cupboard with the intention of getting them fixed when we have the time. The trouble with this delay is that you may forget your shoes need to be fixed and you’ll wear them a number of times with the defect. That small hole in your shoe that was barely noticeable a few weeks ago is now a huge cavern and it may already be beyond repair. Get your shoes fixed as soon as you notice any damage. Put your shoes in the car and get them repaired on the way home from work or during your lunch break.
Not all repairs may need professional intervention. Scuff marks on shoes should also be treated quickly so they don’t expand and this is something you can do at home with a tin of polish and a cloth. If the sole of your shoe is coming off, you can glue it back yourself, just do it the same day out notice it. Of course, if you aren’t confident in your skills, get any repairs done by a professional.
Use A Shoe Horn
When you’re rushing out the door, your final act is putting on your shoes. You quickly try to shove your feet into your leather shoes and have a bit of a struggle with the heel. This may not seem like a big deal, but every time you put on your leather shoes, you may very well be depressing the heel. It may not be a problem on the odd occasion, but when you repeatedly do not put your shoes on properly, the heel will become creased and it will look shabby. You can avoid this problem simply by putting on your shoes with the aid of a shoe horn. The shoe horn will keep the shape of the shoe’s heel and help you slide your feet into your shoes effortlessly. You’ll not only save your shoes, you’ll also save yourself precious seconds.
If The Shoe Fits
One of the surest ways to destroy your expensive leather shoes fast is by not having them properly fitted. Shoes that don’t fit right are not only uncomfortable, but they also wear out a lot faster. Too tight, and you’ll be stretching them out in a short time. Too loose, and you face heel slippage which will also wear out your shoes faster than necessary.
When you are trying on new leather shoes, make sure you are wearing the type of socks you normally plan on wearing. Be sure to push your heel right into the back of the shoe and then you will be able to determine if they fit well in the front as well. Well-fitting shoes will be more comfortable and as you will be able to walk in them naturally, they won’t wear out too fast.
Keep Them To Yourself
This is a rule that should apply to all of your shoes, but especially your leather ones. Don’t share your shoes with anyone. We all have different feet shapes, sizes and widths so when you let your buddy borrow your dress leather shoes, he may very well stretch them out to a point where they won’t fit you properly any more.