Leather shoe care can seem daunting, but leather is incredibly durable when given a little love. Proper care for leather shoes (dress shoes, boots, or casual sneakers) comes down to keeping them clean and dry. Just a few simple steps will significantly improve the longevity of your footwear.
Here are the top tips to care for your leather shoes.
DON’T WEAR THE SAME DRESS SHOES EVERY DAY
Leather needs to breathe, just like your skin. You should always have at least two pairs of shoes in your regular rotation to avoid wearing the same pair daily.
Your feet sweat throughout the day (facts are facts), and the leather absorbs that moisture. Damp leather is more susceptible to stretching, scuffing, creasing, and staining. Wearing them every other day gives them adequate time to dry, increasing the longevity of your footwear by a significant amount.
CLEAN THEM AFTER EACH WEAR
Keep a shoe brush or microfiber cloth handy, and quickly clean your shoes after each wear. This method will keep dirt or grime from being ground into the leather as time goes on, saving you from having to deal with later staining.
STORE LEATHER SHOES WITH A SHOE TREE IN THEM
A cedar or poplar shoe tree is the most important part of shoe care and is the most overlooked step. Leather is porous, so it absorbs moisture and odor, eventually causing it to break down. A shoe tree absorbs moisture and odor while keeping the shoe’s proper shape to prevent creasing. You can extend the life of your shoes dramatically with just this single step alone.
AVOID INCLEMENT RAINY OR SNOWY WEATHER
Putting on galoshes - how to care for dress shoes.
This advice should go without saying, but, if possible, avoid wearing leather shoes in a downpour, and try not to ramble through salt- and snow-covered sidewalks in the winter. Water can stain even waterproof leather shoes, making leather soles more vulnerable to irritating surfaces like concrete.
If you know you’ll have to wear them in the rain or snow, wear a pair of galoshes to protect them all around. We suggest keeping a pair of Swims at home AND in your car, just in case.
If your shoes get wet, avoid the urge to dry them near a radiator or window. Heat and sunlight can crack and damage the leather. Just let them air out independently (with a shoe tree) for a couple of days.
POLISH THEM EVERY TIME YOU WEAR A PAIR SIX TIMES
Just like you don’t want your leather to get too wet, you don’t want it to dry out because it can crack. We know. It’s fickle. Luckily, there is an easy way to keep a healthy balance: Use shoe polish every time you wear a pair six times or so.
Shoe polish helps moisturize the leather while adding a layer of protection to repel dust and water. It also restores color and hides scuffs and blemishes. It would help if you decided between wax or cream polish (or both).
Cream is more moisturizing than wax, and it creates a natural finish. Wax polish offers slightly better protection and a higher level of shine, but it can be more drying. We suggest starting with cream and finishing with wax, but the choice depends on the finish you want. Apply the polish to clean shoes in a circular motion using a microfiber cloth. If you want to go the extra mile, you can use a pig hairbrush to work in the polish deeper. Finish off with a polishing glove and brush to buff the shoe and return the shine.
STORE SHOES IN A DUST BAG WHEN NOT IN USE
Dust can work into leather shoes over time, causing staining and degradation. If you won’t be wearing your shoes regularly, keep them in a fabric dust bag to protect them while allowing them to breathe.
You can certainly take other steps to prolong the life of your shoes, like using leather conditioner or taking them to a cobbler for rejuvenation, but these six simple steps will do most of the heavy lifting. You’ll be surprised how long your shoes last if you properly care for them.
More questions on shoe care? Get in touch or shop at Suits Unlimited for our collection of shoe care items.