A pair of fine leather shoes will unquestionably pep up any ensemble (for the gents). Of course, almost every woman on the planet has at least a pair (or more) of leather boots or dress shoes to match with their sporty and other outfits! With some good luck, you may enjoy wearing your fancy leather shoes and boots for a lifetime. All you need to do is take proper care of your babies and here is just how you can keep them in shape longer!
To get things straight, taking care of leather shoes goes far beyond making them look good (although this reason alone is enough to pamper them!). It is more about preserving them the right way so that you add to their life. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on your shoes. As long as you know how to extend the life of your leather gems, making them look like new for longer, you will be just fine!
The 4 Must-Follow Steps
Without giving them the proper conditioning and care, your leather shoes and boots will dry out and eventually crack. This is the beginning of the end. From then on, expect them to fall apart bit by bit. If you reach that point, you will no longer be in the mood to flash them off outside the house, even if you spent half your paycheck to get them.
What most people do is just throw on a generous amount of shoe polish when their leather shoes begin to look a bit shabby to protect them. But, if you REALLY want to maintain their good looks you should:
1. Clean Them.
2. Condition Them.
3. Polish Them.
4. Waterproof or Preserve Them.
This 4-step process is all the money when you want to care for SMOOTH leather shoes, and not suede, athletic shoes, exotic skins, or nubuck. That said, here are some products you can use for smooth leather shoe care and ways you can get ready for a proper leather shoe cleaning session.
The Essentials for Leather Shoe Care
- Soft Rags or Cotton cloths
- Smooth Leather Shoe Cleaner & Conditioner
- Shoe Polish (or any alternative)
- Leather Protectant (will help you waterproof your shoes)
- Shoe Brush (soft)- optional
As you can see, the products required can be easily found at shoe stores, general stores, and shoe repair shops. However, if you feel somewhat hesitant using them and doing all the work yourself, you can take your leather shoes to any shoe repair store and get them cleaned, conditioned, polished, and waterproofed for you, always for a price. Now, if you are ready to go for it and do a full session of shoe care, make sure you get the products previously mentioned (they should be recommended for leather shoes).
Precautions to Take
Before you start, you must be carefully prepared for the cleaning process. This means you are in a well-ventilated area, wear gloves, and work on top of newspaper. It is critical to follow these precautions, given that there are toxic chemicals contained in several shoe care products that could be dangerous to your health.
Clean Your Leather Shoes
Start by removing dirt with a leather cleaner. Alternatively, you could also use saddle soap to clean your leather shoes. It should be noted that shoe cleaners come in different forms (gel, liquid, spray, cream, foam) and many of them come with an applicator attached to them. You can either use the applicator top or a soft shoe brush to help get rid of superficial dirt, as well as dirt from cracks in your leather shoes.
Then, let them dry for a couple of minutes before you shine them with a soft cotton cloth or rag (even an old t-shirt will do, provided it is cotton).
This step will help moisturize and soften the leather, protecting it from cracking and drying out.
Note: If you live in dryer climates, you might have to condition your leather shoes more frequently.
Of course, there are shoe cleaning products that both clean and condition leather shoes. However, if you want to provide them with the best possible care, it is recommended to have these steps separated. So, look for an easily absorbed natural conditioner, instead of a synthetic one, because the latter just sits superficially and doesn’t go deep under the surface to give a full moisturizing treatment.
Take a small amount of conditioner and rub it into the leather shoe until it is all covered with it. Leave for a few minutes so that the leather can absorb just the amount it needs and then wipe any remaining conditioner off.
This is an important step that should shield your leather shoes against elements such as water, which could significantly reduce your shoes’ life, by ruining their finish. When choosing a protectant for your shoes it is good to know that there are many products that serve various purposes, so you need to think smart. For instance, if you spend a lot of time in messy or wet conditions and you feel your leather shoes should be waterproofed rather than have a nice finish, a beeswax product is a much more handy option than a protective spray. This is because beeswax products are not absorbed into the leather, but form an external, protective shield that provides a sturdier barrier against water.
Note: If you add too many layers of a beeswax product, you may alter your shoes’ appearance.
Now, if you are more interested in enhancing your leather shoes’ appearance, rather that waterproofing them, a spray protectant is a much preferable choice, because it allows the leather to breathe and protects it from mild to moderately wet conditions at the same time. That aside, spray waterproofing products are invisible on your leather shoes.
Tips: If you have a pair of oil-tanned leather boots, you should treat them with oil (i.e. mink oil or neat’s-foot). However, an oil-based commercial coating will also do. For chrome-tanned (ask your supplier to give you that piece of information) though, oil is not a preferable option because it clogs the pores. A silicon spray is much better in this case.
Also, don’t ever think that leather shoes, especially boots, come waterproof from the factory. Even if they were, simply consider the months spent in transiting and storing these boots and you will understand how these have taken their toll on any waterproofing. Therefore, apply waterproofing on brand new shoes at all times.
The first thing you should have at home when wearing leather shoes is a shoe tree, especially unfinished cedar, which will definitely be one of the most worthwhile investments you have ever made, because it sponges up odors and moisture.
A smart trick to help prolong the life of your leather shoes is to stuff the boot toe with butter paper, right after you have taken them out. Just make sure you string them up on the shoe tree afterward.
Use your shoe tree regularly to prevent creases and shrinkage, pertain your leather shoes’ original shape for long, and ensure maximum mileage out of them.
10 Additional Tips:
1. If your leather shoes have been polished before and have a lot of buildup, it is best to use a pre-cleaner first, and then proceed to clean as described above.
2. Never use shoe polish to change the color of your leather shoes, because you will most likely end up with a pair of shoes that look smeared and smudgy. In this case, consult a shoe repair expert.
3. Before you start treating your shoes, remove any laces. You can either replace them, if they are in bad shape, or clean then separately.
4. It is advised to condition your brand new leather shoes even before you wear them outside the house. It is always much better to protect them right from the start. Plus, you save significant time on future cleanings!
5. The same goes for the waterproof protector. Spray your new leather shoes with one to keep the surface from getting marred, in case you wear them on a rainy day.
6. Ask your shoe repairman to add rubber half-soles and taps to the bottoms of your leather shoes. It is a task that won’t cost you more than $20 and will help increase the life of your shoes.
7. Always allow your shoes to dry for a few hours after you have worn them, before you put them in your closet. You also want leather shoes to have sufficient time to breathe between wearings, so it is nice to alternate pairs.
8. If you are facing odor issues, you have to clean the insides. You can do that by swabbing them with a drop of tea tree oil (a natural anti-fungal agent) or alcohol. Be careful not to splash the leather or you will stain it.
9. Erodes insoles are an excellent solution to perspiration problems.
10. Use plastic shoe trees for your other shoes, except for leather ones.
It is so chic seeing women matching their outfits with their accessories wisely! To stay on top of every trend and be in fashion at all times, here are the latest handbag designs for Fall/Winter 2015 that you could adorn with adorable bag charms!