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Complete Guide: How to Take Care of Leather Shoes

Don’t you just love the smell of leather shoes being pulled out of the box for the first time? It’s only shadowed by the sight of supple leather waiting to be touched. Well, we all wish we could keep our shoes that way. With the right care, you just might be able to. This tutorial for shoe care will tell you all you need to know.

1.Shoe Trees and Rest

Your feet sweat about a quarter liter (half a pint) of sweat per day. Imagine dumping .25 liters of water and salt onto your shoes! That’s why they need to rest for at least a day with shoe trees. The shoe trees let them retain their shape, preventing cracking. They also help pull moisture out. For more information about your feet, check out https://www.podiatrists.org/visitors/foothealth/faqs/general

Items Needed: Shoe Trees


When shoes are looking a little lifeless, it may be time for a treatment. Brushing is the first step in that treatment. Take the shoelaces off. Grab a brush and brush the upper and the welt’s stitching.

Items Needed: Medium or Hard Brush (Note: Don’t use a toothbrush. It is too abrasive.)


After brushing, grab some saddle soap. Take about a splash of water and drop it into the saddle soap. With a brush, lather up the soap. Now, brush the upper with the lather. Reach for more as you need it. With a soft cloth or paper towels, dry the excess lather on the upper as you go along. Let it dry for 15 minutes.

Items Needed: Saddle Soap, another brush (optional), soft cloth (optional)


Now, we need to find a substance to condition the leather with. There are many leather care products that fit the bill. They will say they condition, moisturize, rejuvenate, or a number of other things. What the substance will do is replenish the leather with the nutrients it needs to stay as alive as it can be.

Whatever product you buy, apply it to the upper with either a soft cloth or a soft brush, or even your fingers. Move excess material around. There is nothing wrong with too much material but it is a waste of product and it takes more than the 15 minutes needed to dry. Once dry, brush it with the hard brush from earlier. Make sure the brush is dry.

Items Needed: Conditioner, soft brush or cloth (optional)

5.Color and Shine

Coloring your shoes is optional. It is only necessary if they have lost a lot of color or if there’s a nasty mark. Fortunately, shoe polishes sometimes do more than just shine your shoes; they can color them too. Grab a shoe polish and apply it to the upper using a new soft cloth. Make sure there’s enough for the whole upper. Wipe off excess and allow it to dry for 15 minutes. Then, brush it off with a medium to hard brush.

Items Needed: Shoe Polish, Soft Cloth, Medium to Hard Brush


Waxing provides a small protection and adds to the shine. Grab a wax formulated for leather shoe use. Use very small amounts! When it builds up it can leave an ugly white residue. Also, be careful not to get any in the seams, brogue-holes, and in the wrinkles. It will definitely leave a residue there. Let it dry for a few minutes and brush it with a clean medium to hard brush.

Items Needed: Shoe Wax, Applicator Cloth (optional)

7.Welt/Outsole Care

The side of the shoe has a welt/outsole strip. It should be brushed clean with no products. Then, apply a heel dressing to it. Afterwards, wax it. The topside of the strip has stitches on it. Brush it clean with no products and apply wax to it.

Items Needed: Heel Dressing


That’s it! Enjoy your shoes.


Now, learn about dress shoe quality:

The Ultimate Guide to Quality Dress Shoes

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