Your Guide to Caring for Leather Shoes
Genuine leather shoes are what we call an ‘investment piece’ for your closet, and let’s face it, nothing makes a better impression than a good pair of wingtips with your suit. Like all luxury items, they might seem expensive when you swipe your credit card… but these guys are going to stick around a long time if you just give them a little T.L.C – and years from now they’ll seem a bargain at the cost-per-wear. To make sure your leather investment lasts and lasts, here are some steps to shine your shoes like a boss.
Step 1: Clean Up
If your shoes are a little damp from the rain, stuff with newspaper and leave overnight to absorb all excess moisture. Once dry, take a soft brush and gently brush off any excess dirt or grime. If your shoes already have ‘character’, use a tooth brush to get into the creases.
Take Note; Product caught in the seams from your last polish also needs to go, so make sure the surface of your shoes is 100% clean before you start. Also, stuffing your shoes with paper, or inserting a ‘Shoe Tree’ while cleaning, will help retain your shoe’s shape.
Step 2: Waterproof
Winter can be a killer on your footwear so take action and waterproof your leather brogues before the rain pours. First warm your shoes up using either a hairdryer or a warm cloth, then using a clean cloth or a brush apply ‘Dubbin’ (a natural wax based product) rubbing in really well to ensure good penetration. This is going to both soften and waterproof the leather, extending its life.
Take Note: You don’t need to waterproof on every clean, but once you notice that the rain isn’t collecting in repellent droplets on your shoes, make sure you follow the steps to waterproof again.
Step 3: Condition
Just like your skin, leather needs nutrients on a regular basis to look its best. Before you get going with the polish; take a cotton cloth and dab on some cream conditioner, spreading liberally, and working into the leather in circular motions. Once thoroughly conditioned, let your shoes relax for 20 minutes, then rub vigorously with a shoe brush to remove any excess cream.
Take Note; shoe conditioners come in different colours (black, brown and tan) – so pick the one closest to your shoe colour, and always use different cloths and brushes for your various shoe colours.
Step 4: Polish
You’ll find there are two types of polishing products on the shelf; one is a ‘cream polish’ which is good for colour rejuvenation (you ideally need to use a “welt brush” to apply this type) and the other is a ‘wax polish’ which is ideal for surface shine if you want a super-buffed look. Once you’ve decided on your preference – select the colour closest to your shoe colour. Now you’re ready to start; use a soft cloth (or a clean welt brush) to rub the surface of the polish until it’s collected about a poker chip size amount of product.
Then apply the polish evenly across the entire shoe; making circular motions with your index and middle finger (or for cream polishes, a welt brush) to really work the product into the leather. Give the heels and the toe area extra love, as these wear the most and take the most knocks. Once polished to perfection, allow to dry for 15 minutes.
Take Note; for tricky areas like the seams, use an old toothbrush to polish evenly.
Step 5: Buff
Finally use a soft brush to buff each shoe to a gleaming finish. Using short, even strokes, remove any excess polish; heating up the leather to enhance the shine. The more you buff, the smoother and more reflective the finish – so put your muscle power into it – then sit back to admire the results.
More Tips for Happy Feet:
- Leather doesn’t live well in humid, non-ventilated boxes, so ditch the original shoe box and rather place on the shelf or store on a shoe rack.
- Don’t leave your shoes next to the fireplace in winter, this will severely dry out the leather.
- Use a shoe horn so you don’t damage the back of your shoes by forcing them on in the morning.
- We know you love them, and they’re your office-go-to, but try give your shoes at least a day to ‘breath’ in between wears. They’ll last longer if they get some time out every now and again.
- After you’ve worn your shoes in for 12 to18 months, visit a cobbler to reinforce the heels of your shoes and protect from wear and tear on the ground.