How to Care for Leather Shoes


You have stepped up and bought men’s designer leather shoes!  If properly cared for, these will provide you a great look for many years by following some simple rules.  Think of your designer leather shoes as an investment and, like any such expenditure, requiring care and nurturing.

Consider that your shoes take more abuse than any other clothing/apparel item you own.  You push down and out as you walk, hitting whatever surface with every step, getting stepped on and scuffed.  Naturally, there will be damage to the outside leather and the edges of the sole.  This does not take into account that your feet sweat, creating heat and moisture, both enemies of leather.  This condition is clearly exacerbated if you ever go sockless, so pay particular attention below if this applies to you!  The good news is there are simple, inexpensive steps which can be taken to alleviate any problems.

First, after wearing, clean off any dirt and grime with a soft cloth; use a brush if necessary for any hard to get off elements.  The dirt, etc. will not hurt the leather long term, if promptly removed, as the material is far stronger than you may think.  Even wearing the shoes in the rain or snow will not be a problem if you merely clean them after wearing and (this is VERY important!) utilize wooden shoe trees.  Plastic does not absorb moisture, something which is imperative, as moisture on the inside can destroy the leather (see above!).   Additionally, the trees will help the shoe retain its shape and relieve most of the creases created as you bend and walk.

Once the shoes have dried completely, polish them (presuming they are not suede or an exotic skin).  There are as many theories on polishing as there are stars in the sky (okay, maybe not that many) but certain principles are universal.  Applying hand lotion is a good moisturizing technique which also forms the base of the shine.  The lotion does not need to be anything special; hotel giveaway product is fine.  A paste polish should then be administered to restore the color, especially if there is a scrape or two, with a soft cloth buffing the surface nicely.  Add a coating of good shoe cream and buff with a soft bristle brush.  Lastly, do not forget the edges by using a sole dressing around the entire perimeter of the shoes.

As to the color of the shoe cream, obviously black and brown should always be employed where applicable; for anything other than black or brown, neutral is the best option.  Understand that you can, through polishing, change the color or add highlights as you choose.  Every once in a while, treat yourself to a professional shine; it is well worth the expense as these people are truly artists and experts (the foot massage also feels very good) and you can pick up a tip or two to use yourself.  By the way, shining your shoes is a great thing to do while watching TV and will produce immense satisfaction aside from keeping your designer leather shoes looking terrific.

One last thought: Never, ever, put your shoes on without using a shoe horn!  This takes but a few seconds and prevents a distortion of the shoe shape engendered when you force your foot in.  As your designer leather shoes should fit properly, meaning somewhat more snugly, this is an important and necessary step.

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