Easy Leather Shoes Care Guide

leather shoes care

How long your leather shoes last depends on your leather shoes care routine and technique. Use this guide to help you

Below is an easy Leather Shoes Care guide to help you look after your leather shoes.

The best leather shoes care requirements

Before you start, you will need the following to polish your leather shoes (smooth / Box type):  

  1. Raw wood shoe trees 
  2. Scraper
  3. Shine brush
  4. Leather balm or cleansing milk
  5. Pure cotton chamois
  6. Cream pot
  7. Shoe polish  (optional)
  8. Palot brush  (optional)

Depending on the construction of your pair of shoes, you will also need:

  • a welt brush  (which can be replaced with an old toothbrush) 
  • a jar of grease

Note: Shoe polish is optional and is used to make the leather shine in case the gloss of the cream is not enough for you.

Unlike cream, shoe polish does not penetrate the leather; it stays on the surface. The paste is therefore used in addition to the cream, but under no circumstances should it be used alone.

Leather shoes care frequency

How often you have to care for your leather shoes depends on how often you use your shoes.

NOTE: As a general rule, you should not wear a pair of shoes two consecutive days to allow time for the leather to dry and breathe.

Most people tend to rotate 3 pairs of shoes in a month. It is recommended that you wax your leather shoes once or twice a month at least:

  • In the case of regular use, creaming every two weeks is recommended.
     
  • In the case of occasional use, creaming per month or every two months is sufficient. In this case, it is better to do it a few days before wearing them.
     
  • For those who use shoe polish, it is advisable to do a creaming every 3 polishes (in the case where you polish your shoes before each wearing).

How to properly care for leather shoes

1. Preparation

  • It is advised that you remove the laces so as not to soil them during the operation but also to avoid clogging the eyelets. 
  • You should also put shoe trees in your pair of leather shoes. This will allow you to apply the different products well to the areas prone to wear folds and thus reduce them.
  • Cream and shoe polish can stain; so remember to protect your work surface (you can take the opportunity to wear an apron and latex gloves if you don’t want to risk damaging your clothes).

Frequently asked questions about shoe trees

Is a shoe tree necessary?

It would be ideal to have a shoe tree in every nice pair of leather shoes you own. They are not absolutely necessary if you rotate your leather shoes often. However, shoe trees help the leather shoes retain shape and help with odor control.

What can I use instead of a shoe tree?

In case you do not have any shoe trees, you can use socks and underwear in shoes. Shoe trees add weight and stuffing shoes with socks can do the same.

Are shoe trees bad for leather shoes?

Normally, shoe trees have no negative impact on the shape of the leather shoes. In case of other materials, shoe trees may slightly alter the waist area of the shoe by extending it and causing it to protrude outward. Over a long period of time, the material will stretch to form an awkward bump which may be difficult to fix.

2. Dust off

This step is essential! To avoid trapping dirt, your pair of shoes must be perfectly clean.

  • Rub vigorously with the scraper

Note: the scraper is only used for dusting. You don’t have to use the same brush you use to polish your shoes!

If your shoes are too dirty you can pass a very slightly damp sponge to remove all the dirt and prepare the leather to receive the cream.

3. Cleaning

The application of cleansing milk is not compulsory for each creaming.

You can apply the cleanser every 2/3 creamings.


Note: if you use more of the wax paste then you can use the leather balm / cleansing milk more frequently.

The goal here is to clean your pair of shoes and remove the shoe polish that you have previously applied, in order to prepare the leather for:

  1. Care feed him better 
  2. Prevention from cracking as it ages

Follow the following easy steps to clean the leather shoes

  • Twist the cotton chamois around your index finger and take a little leather balm / cleansing milk. 
  • Also apply a little milk on the smooth (the edge) of the sole and on the heel (if these are made of leather of course)     
  • To find out if you have stripped the leather properly (all the old polish has been removed) take a clean part of your cotton chamois with a little cleaning milk and rub to see if it remains clean.

4. Feed the welt thread (optional)

Note: this operation applies in the case of shoes with a welt. Some leather shoes might not have a welt or it is simply aesthetic since the seam is located inside the shoe. 

Leather Shoes Welt

The thread used for making the seams which connect the welt to the upper and to the sole is sticky (coated with pitch) in order to ensure the waterproofness of the assembly by plugging the holes through which the needle has passed.

In addition to waterproofing, a wire that is too dry presents a significant risk of breaking and you end up with a loose sole! 

  • Tap the welt brush (or an old toothbrush) in the grease pot and slide it all around the shoe to lubricate the thread.
  • Focus on the front of the shoe, which is the part most exposed to impact. 

5. Nourish the leather

  • Twist the cotton chamois  around your index finger (it must be well stretched without any folds).
  • Remember to apply it everywhere: sole, tongue and heel.
  • Make sure you don’t miss the folds of wear in order to iron them and therefore to attenuate them.

Notes to nourishing leather:

  1. For more shine you can make a last pass by slightly moistening the part of the cloth you used.
  2. You should use a cream of a color slightly darker than that of the leather.
    Why? Because a lighter color will bring out the creases and different wear defects of your pair of shoes.
  3. If you apply too much cream, the volatile solvents will evaporate before penetrating the leather and leave a dry paste on the surface!

6. Buff / wax (optional)

Let the cream dry for 15 minutes (ideally a little longer). 

Using the polishing brush, vigorously (but lightly) rub your shoes to:

  • polish them 
  • shine the leather
  • remove all the excess dry cream deposited on the leather

Are you still not satisfied with the shine of your leather shoes?

You can now polish your shoes using the wax paste. This is only used to polish your shoes: it does not penetrate the leather but remains on the surface

Use a different color than the leather to give your shoes a slight sheen

  • Tap the palot brush (or the cotton chamois twisted around your fingers) in the pot of dough.
  • Then apply it to your pair of shoes, taking care to distribute it everywhere, even in the least accessible places.
  • Let dry for ten minutes then polish with a quick and light gesture with your polishing brush.

Are your leather shoes still not bright enough?

  • Use a sheep’s fur after passing the shine brush for even more shine!
  • You can also start making a glaze of your pair of shoes. 

Summary

To properly care for your leather shoes, we recommend you do the following:

  • Put shoe trees into the leather shoes
  • Dust the leather shoes off with a scraper.
  • Clean the leather shoes with a cotton pad and leather balm/cleansing milk.
  • Feed the leatherr and re-color it with waxing cream.
  • Polish it with a buffing brush.

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