How to Take Care of Leather Shoes in 11 Easy Steps

Leather shoes are a luxurious addition to any wardrobe, but they require special care in order to stay looking their best. In this blog post, we will discuss 11 tips for taking care of leather shoes.

how to take care of leather shoes and boots

Following these simple steps will help your shoes last longer and maintain their beautiful appearance. Choosing leather shoe care and picking between cedar shoe trees, a clean cloth, a suede cleaner, a leather cleaner, a wax polish, a shoe conditioner, a shoe horn or a mink oil, sounds complicated.

But getting it right is just part of your leather footwear shoe care regime. So let’s get started!

1. Choose the right shoes for your activity

When it comes to taking care of your leather shoes or leather boots, the first step is to choose the right pair for the activity you have in mind. For example, if you know you’ll be doing a lot of walking, opt for a pair of comfortable pair, like suede shoes. If you’re going to a party, choose a pair of dress shoes. There’s always the option of just picking a pair of casual leather shoes. But the important thing is to avoid wearing the same pair all the time. Have at least two pairs.

If you’re going to be standing for long periods of time, choose shoes with good support and avoid high heels. And if you’re planning on being active, make sure to select shoes that are breathable and won’t cause blisters. By taking the time to choose the right shoes upfront, you can help ensure that your leather footwear will last for many years to come.

picking a pair of shoes

2. Clean your shoes regularly

Cleaning leather shoe regularly is one of the best ways to extend its lifespan. Dirt and grime can quickly break down the leather, causing it to crack and fade. In addition, salt and other chemicals can also damage leather.

For best results, brush your shoes off and clean them with a soft cloth and a mild soap or saddle soap. Brush the entire shoe. Don’t use warm water. Avoid using harsh cleansers or scrubbing too aggressively even with stubborn stains, as this can further damage the leather. And don’t be cheap, pick a good shoe wipe instead of a paper towel.

Let your shoes dry naturally and completely before wearing them again. With proper care, your leather shoes can stay looking new for years to come.

If you want to remove dirt easily, use a shoe brush. There are both synthetic ones and non-synthetic, for example a horsehair brush.

cleaning shoes

3. Condition your shoes with a leather conditioner

Leather is a natural material that needs to be cared for in order to stay looking its best. Leather footwear are an investment, and proper care will extend their life.

One important step is to condition them with a leather conditioner. This will help to keep the leather soft and supple, and prevent it from drying out and cracking.

Apply the leather conditioner according to the instructions, and be sure to wipe off any excess. Once you have applied a thin layer, make sure the shoes absorb moisture.

In addition, it’s a good idea to store a leather shoe in a cool, dry place when they’re not being worn. With proper care, your shoes will continue to look great for years to come.

shoe wipes

4. Polish your shoes with a good quality shoe polish

A good shoe polish not only makes your shoes look their best, but it also helps to protect the leather from dirt and moisture.

When choosing a shoe care polish, be sure to select one that is appropriate for the type of leather you are polishing. For example, a leather shoe require a different type of polish than unfinished or suede shoes.

In general, it is best to avoid polishes that contain petroleum or silicones, as these can damage the leather over time. Instead, opt for a natural polish made from bees wax or carnauba wax.

Once you have selected the right polish, simply apply wax or apply polish to your shoes with a soft cloth and buff until shiny. Buff in small circles. With regular polishing, your shoes will have more protection. They will stay looking their best for years to come.

polish your shoes

5. Store your shoes in a cool, dry place when not in use

Leather is a strong, durable material that can last for years with proper care. However, leather is also susceptible to damage from heat, moisture, and excessive sunlight. To help prolong the life of your leather shoes, it is important to store them in a cool, dry place when not in use. A closet or shoe rack in a cool, dark room is ideal. If you live in a warm climate, consider storing your shoes in a temperature-controlled storage unit.

Leather shoes should also be stored away from direct sunlight, as this can cause the material to fade and crack over time. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your leather shoes will enjoy a long life.

keep your shoes dry

6. Protect your shoes from rain and snow

One of the best ways to protect your leather shoes is to keep them away from the rain and snow. Leather is a natural material, and it’s vulnerable to water damage. When leather gets wet, it can shrink, warp, and cracks. So, if you’re caught in a storm, be sure to carry an umbrella or a bag to shield your shoes from the elements. If your shoes do get wet, let them air dry at room temperature; avoid using a hair dryer or other heat source, as this can further damage the leather. With a little care, you can keep your leather shoes looking great for years to come.

rain and snow are bad for leather

7. Avoid exposing your shoes to excessive heat

Excessive heat is just as harmful to leather as water. When leather gets wet, it becomes softer and more flexible. However, as the leather gets hot and dries out over time, it becomes rigid and brittle. So, if you’re going to be near a heat source, such as a fireplace or stove, be sure to take your shoes off first. Likewise, avoid leaving your shoes in a hot car, as this can cause them to warp and crack.

heat damages leather

8. Use a damp cloth

One of the best ways to protect your leather shoes is to keep them clean. Dirt and dust can damage the leather over time, so it’s important to clean your shoes regularly. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the surface of the shoes, taking care to remove any dirt or dust. Be sure to also clean the inside of the shoes, using a soft brush or a damp cloth. If your shoes are really dirty, you may need to use a mild soap or detergent.

9. Protect your shoes from scuffs and scratches

Another way to protect your leather shoes is to use a good quality shoe protector. A shoe protector can help prevent scuffs and scratches, which can damage the leather over time. There are many different types of shoe protectors on the market, so be sure to select one that is appropriate for the type of leather you are using.

A good quality protector will also help to keep your shoes looking shiny and new.

boots with scuffs

10. Use shoe trees to help maintain the shape of your shoes

Another way to protect your leather shoes is to use shoe trees. Shoe trees are inserted into the shoes after they are worn, and they help to maintain the shape of the shoe. A shoe tree is a cheap investment. You can even find really nice cedar shoe trees for almost nothing. Using a shoe tree is especially important for leather shoes, as they can start to lose their shape over time if not properly maintained.

Shoe care product bulk buy
Vale pack shoe tree product

11. Use a dust bag for your clean shoes

Leather is a natural material that needs to be treated with care. Over time, it can dry out and crack if it’s not properly conditioned. One way to help prolong the life of your leather shoes is to store them in a dust bag when you’re not wearing them. This will help protect them from dirt, dust, and other elements that can cause wear and tear.

Dust bags are typically made from soft materials like cotton or linen, which won’t damage the leather. They can also be used to store other delicate items like jewelry or handbags. If you take good care of your leather shoes, they’ll last longer and look better for years to come.

protect shoes with dust bag

Different leather footwear models

There are different leather shoe and boot models, but knowing exactly what they are called can be tricky. Here is a really good explainer video:

Leather Boots

Leather boots are a type of footwear that is made from the hide of a cow or other animal. The leather is often treated with oil, which helps to protect it from the elements and makes it more durable. Leather boots come in a variety of styles, including ankle boots, over-the-knee boots, and cowboy boots.

wearing nice boots

Leather Flats

Leather flats come in a variety of styles, but they typically have a low heel and no ankle strap. They are perfect for everyday wear and can be dressed up or down.

wearing nice flats

Leather High heels

Leather high heels are a type of women’s shoes that have a heel that is higher than other styles of shoes. They are often made from leather, and they come in a variety of styles, including pumps, slingbacks, and sandals.

nice high heels

Leather Loafers

Leather loafers are a type of slipper that is typically made from leather. They have a low heel and no ankle strap, and they are perfect for everyday wear. Leather loafers come in a variety of styles, including moccasins, tassels, and medallions.

leather loafers for men

Leather Oxfords

Leather oxford shoes come in a variety of styles, including plain oxfords, cap-toe oxfords, and wingtips.

oxford leather shoes

Leather Sneakers

Leather sneakers come in a variety of styles, including high-tops and low-tops.

leather sneakers

What to consider when buying quality leather shoes

leather shoe buyers guide

When it comes to leather shoes, quality is key. A good quality pair of leather shoes can last for years if treated properly. So, what should you consider when buying a quality pair of leather shoes? Here are four things to keep in mind:

1. The type of leather

Not all types of leather are created equal. It’s fair to talk about leather science. Some types of leather are more durable than others. When shopping for a quality pair of leather shoes, be sure to select one made from a durable type of leather.

Some of the most popular types of leather include:

– full grain leather – this is the highest quality type of leather, and it’s resistant to scratches and scuffs. It’s also the most expensive type of leather and that’s what you get with the more expensive pair of shoes.

– top grain leather – this is a good quality, mid-priced leather that’s resistant to scratches and scuffs.

– genuine leather – this is an affordable type of leather that’s not as durable as the other types. It’s susceptible to small scratches and scuffs.

– synthetic leather – this is a less expensive type of leather that’s not as durable as the other types. It’s susceptible to scratches and scuffs.

2. The construction of the shoe

When shopping for a quality pair of leather shoes, be sure to look at the construction of the shoe. A good quality shoe will be made with high-quality materials and construction techniques. Look for shoes that are made with a good amount of stitching and are glued rather than taped.

Also, be sure to check the heel and sole of the shoe. Good quality heels and soles will be made from a durable material that can withstand wear and tear.

3. The stitching and seams

Stitching and seams are important when it comes to the construction of any garment, but they are especially critical in shoes. That’s because a shoe undergoes a lot of wear and tear, and poorly constructed stitching can quickly come undone. When inspecting the stitching on a leather shoe, look for evenness and tightness. The stitches should be small and uniform, and there should be no loose threads. The seams should also lie flat against the shoe, with no gaps or tears. If the stitching and seams are not up to par, it’s best to move on to another pair of shoes. After all, you don’t want your shoes falling apart at the first sign of wear.

4. The sole and heel

The sole and heel of a shoe are two of the most important parts when it comes to quality. A good sole will be made of durable materials and be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. The heel should also be made of tough materials and be able to support your weight without wobbling or breaking. If you’re unsure about the quality of the sole or heel, ask a salesperson for help. They should be able to tell you if the shoes are made with durable materials that will last. Keeping these things in mind will help you make sure you’re getting a pair of quality leather shoes that will last you for years to come.

5. The fit of the shoe

A good rule of thumb is that your leather shoes should be about a half-inch longer than your foot. This may seem like a small amount, but it’s actually just enough to ensure that your shoes won’t feel too tight or constricting.

You should also make sure that there’s enough room in the toe box to wiggle your toes comfortably. If you’re buying loafers or slip-ons, you’ll want to make sure that they’re not too loose, as this can cause them to rub and chafe against your feet. With all of this in mind, it’s important to try on leather shoes before you buy them, and to pay close attention to the way they feel on your feet. Only purchase shoes that are comfortable and fit well.

6. Whether or not to have them professionally polished

One important factor to consider when purchasing leather shoes is whether or not you plan to have them professionally polished. While it is possible to do this yourself at home, it can be difficult to achieve a high-quality shine without the proper tools and experience. Professional shoe polishers have the skills and equipment needed to make your shoes look their best. Whether you opt for a simple shine or a more elaborate polish, you can rest assured that your shoes will look sharp and well-cared-for. Of course, professional shoe polishing comes at a cost, so be sure to factor this into your budget when making your purchase.

7. Buy leather shoes you can take care of on a day-to-day basis

Once you’ve got a pair of quality leather shoes, it’s important to know how to take care of them properly.

leather shoe and boot care guide

Taking care of leather shoes – in conclusion

The most important thing is to pick leather shoes made of quality leather. That’s what we always say here at Footweardrobe. When that’s done, there are a lot of things you can do to keep your leather footwear in good conditioner.

By following the simple tips of this article, you can help ensure that your leather shoes will enjoy a long life. With regular care and maintenance, your leather shoes will stay looking great for years to come. So, take care of your investment and enjoy the luxurious feeling of wearing a beautiful pair of leather shoes.

Patricia Merken

Interior design blogger

Neat freak and shoe lover. American expat in Switzerland.
Blogger and mom. Blogs mainly at Footweardrobe.

Frequently Asked Questions: Taking care of leather shoes

How do you take care of leather shoes?

1. Choose the right shoes for your activity
2. Clean your shoes regularly
3. Condition your shoes with a leather conditioner
4. Polish your shoes with a good quality polish
5. Store your shoes in a cool, dry place when not in use
6. Protect your shoes from rain and snow
7. Avoid exposing your shoes to excessive heat
8. Use a damp cloth
9. Protect your shoes from scuffs and scratches
10. Use shoe trees to help maintain the shape of your shoes
11. Use a dust bag for your clean shoes

Should you moisturize leather shoes?

Moisturizing leather shoes is not necessary, but it can help keep them in good condition. If you moisturize your leather shoes, make sure to use a product that is specifically designed for leather care. Avoid using products that are meant for general shoe care, as these can contain harsh chemicals that can damage your shoes.

How can I increase the life of my leather shoes?

Your best bet is to buy quality leather and to follow a leather shoe care regiment. Store them correctly, clean them regularly, polish and condition them, use shoe trees and keep them in dust bags.

What types of leather are there?

* Full grain leather: Genuine leather is the highest grade of leather and is scratch and scuff-resistant. It’s also the most costly type of leather, which is why you get it with the more expensive pair of shoes.
* Top grain leather: This is a good quality leather constructed with mid-range quality and durability.
* Genuine leather: The majority of the world’s leather. It’s used in wallets, belt buckles, and other small goods. This is an inexpensive sort of leather that isn’t as durable as other kinds.
* Synthetic leather: This is the most affordable leather that isn’t nearly as long-lasting as the other kinds. It’s prone to scratches and scuffs.