How to Clean and Care for Leather Shoes

Regardless of the amount of money you have spent on leather shoes, you should spend some time cleaning and caring for them. It’s important to care for your leather shoes to make them last as long as you want to keep wearing them. Keep reading for some tips on how to clean and care for your leather shoes.

Why Leather Care is Important

Leather shoes are tough to care for because they can become marked up, stained, and/or scratched, and they can dry up. If you don’t condition your leather shoes regularly, it is possible they will dry up and start cracking on the outside surface of the shoes. Sometimes, leather shoes can dry out so much they eventually fall apart. If you are on a budget and purchase a more affordable pair of leather shoes, you will probably want to keep them for a while. If you invested in an expensive pair of leather shoes, you should want to protect your investment. Either way, protecting your shoes is a worthy investment in itself.


Cleaning leather shoes is the first step in the overall shoe care process. Cleaning your shoes with the proper products and techniques will remove dirt from the surface as well as from within the cracks. Use a smooth leather shoe cleaner. The basic cleaners will come in gel, spray, foam, or liquid. Every time you use a product on your shoes, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you have cleaned your shoes, use a shoe shining cloth to polish them up.


The second step in the shoe care process is conditioning. Conditioning shoes will both improve the look of your leather shoes while giving them the strength and protection to last for years. Apply the conditioner with a soft cloth by rubbing it into small areas of the shoes until the shoes have been totally covered. Once you have covered all areas of the shoes, wipe away excess conditioner that may not have been able to soak into the shoes.


Many types of shoe polish contain toxic chemicals that can enter through the skin or inhalation, so be sure to wear gloves, work in a well-ventilated areas, and don’t drink alcohol while using polish. Make sure you purchase the color of polish that will match your shoes. Rub down your shoes with a shoe shining cloth when you are finished with this step. Alternatives to toxic polishes include the inside of a banana peel, olive oil and walnut oil.


You can purchase products specifically designed to preserve your shoes. If you are looking for protection more than looks, select a beeswax product.  If you are primarily interested in making your shoes look nice, select a protective spray.