With the right leather shoe care tips, you can keep your favorite pairs looking their best for years to come. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about cleaning and caring for your leather boots, sneakers, sandals, pumps and more.
Everything you need to clean and care for your leather shoes:
● Saddle soap/leather shoe cleaner
● Polishing cloth or soft cloth
● Horsehair shoe brush
● Leather shoe conditioner
● Leather polish
First things first: Always spot test any cleaner, polish or conditioner on a hidden spot on your shoe before applying it.
Read on for our step-by-step guide to cleaning your leather shoes.
Before cleaning your leather shoes, use a horsehair shoe brush to remove any debris, dirt or dust from the surface. For a deeper clean, remove the laces, if applicable, then carefully apply a small amount of saddle soap to the exterior using a soft, dry cloth or lightly spritz the surface with a leather shoe cleaner.
After completing Step 1, let your shoes dry for five minutes. Then, with a polishing cloth or soft, dry cloth, apply a thin coat of leather shoe conditioner to the exterior of your shoes using small circular motions. Let the conditioner soak into the leather for 5 to 15 minutes depending on the conditioner’s instructions.
Once the conditioner is absorbed into your shoes, give them a quick buff using a horsehair shoe brush. This will activate the conditioner’s ingredients to make your shoes even shinier. Then, apply a thin layer of leather shoe polish to the entire surface of each shoe and gently massage it in with your fingers using circular motions.
Depending on the shoe polish used, allow 5 to 10 minutes for it to dry. Then, using a horsehair shoe brush, firmly brush your leather shoes to properly blend and remove excess polish from your shoes. Finally, use a polishing cloth or soft, dry cloth to lightly wipe the shoe down to remove any extra polish that has not been absorbed.
To remove scuff marks from your leather shoes, lightly dampen a soft cloth with a mixture of warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Gently wipe down the surface of each shoe using light circular movements. Then, using a soft, dry cloth, wipe away excess moisture from each shoe. Remember to always spot test before applying anything to your shoes.
The tips above should also work to clean scuffs off white leather shoes. Alternatively, you can also try an alcohol-free baby wipe. Using gentle circular motions, wipe down any scuff marks on your shoes.
We recommend treating any stain on your leather shoes immediately. Leather is a porous material and stains can be even more difficult to remove once they have set in. In order to properly remove stains from your leather shoes, you first need to determine the type of stain you're dealing with as different stains require different methods of removal.
Below, you’ll find instructions on how to clean some of the most common types of stains. As always, be sure to spot test any solution or cleaner before applying it to your shoes.
While leather is naturally somewhat water-resistant, it is still prone to getting water stains. To remove water marks from leather, clean them gentle, circular motions using a soft cloth lightly dampened with room temperature water. Start in the middle of the water stain and carefully work your way out.
To remove oil and grease stains from leather shoes, sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch or baking soda onto the stain and gently rub the powder into the stain using a slightly damp soft cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight depending on the severity of the stain. Once the cornstarch or baking soda has absorbed the oil in the stain, wipe off the remaining powder with a soft, dry cloth.
Grass stains can be particularly tough to clean. We recommend carefully applying a small amount of stain remover to break down the stain and lift it to the surface. Once the stain has lifted, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away the residue.
You may find your leather shoes stained by road salt during winter. To remove salt stains from your leather shoes, dampen a soft cloth with a mixture of water and vinegar. Wring to remove excess moisture, then gently wipe the affected areas until the stains are removed. Let your shoes air dry completely.
To get ink off of leather shoes, apply a small amount of saddle soap to a soft, dry cloth, then gently rub across the surface of your shoes while focusing on the stain. The saddle soap should disappear into the leather as you rub it in. For more stubborn stains, dip a cotton ball in a small amount of rubbing alcohol and gently rub it onto the stain using circular motions. The ink stain should gradually disappear.
We recommend treating stains on white leather shoes using a magic eraser right away. Wet the magic eraser and gently rub it into the stain. If the stain has not set, it should be easily removed.
For more stubborn stains on white leather shoes, dip a soft toothbrush into a mixture of water and baking soda. Carefully scrub the stain using gentle circular motions. Once removed, wipe away the residue with a soft, dry cloth.
The more often you clean and treat your leather shoes, the more preserved the leather will be. To further protect them, try applying shoe polish and wax treatments to your leather shoes to repel liquids and stains. We recommend doing a deep clean annually — with careful routine cleaning, you can extend the life of your favorite pairs of leather shoes.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to Stuart Weitzman Client Services at 877.793.4896 or email@example.com with any questions you may have.