How to Clean Leather Shoes of Different Types.

How to Clean Leather Shoes


How to Clean Leather Shoes



Most of us own a couple of leather shoes. Our first introduction to them was in the form of school shoes and the love affair continued thereon. Leather shoes always look good on a person. They pair very well with all types of clothes. While for office we use a formal type and for wearing with jeans or other casual wear we choose boots, loafers, and whatnot. But what about their care? If you care, clean and polish your shoes they will be with you for a long time. A quality pair of leather shoes are timeless. During the monsoons, it becomes especially necessary as leather requires some attention due to humidity and a high chance of getting exposed to rain. Not many people go to the neighborhood cobbler for getting their shoes cleaned during these COVID times. So, should you leave your favorite pair without giving them some tender love and care? Not at all! We have provided a simple guide to leather shoe care in the below sections to take care of your leather shoes. You can do it yourself simply and easily without leaving the comfort of your home. 

How to Clean Leather Shoes of Different Types

Leather shoes come in different designs with different types of leather. The leather may comprise pure leather, suede leather, patent leather, faux leather, etc. Confirm the leather of your shoes and follow the pointers provided below for different types of leather shoes.

A. Pure Leather Shoes

Pure leather shoes come under premium quality footwear.

The leather may be full-grain, top-grain, or genuine leather. Full-grain leather is the best and most expensive followed by top-grain and genuine leather. To clean the pure leather shoes, follow the steps given below. 

  1. Take the laces out of the shoes. This is done so as not to smear them with polish later. Wash them separately with water or put them in a mesh bag and throw them with other clothes in the washing machine. 

  2. Take a clean cotton cloth and wipe your shoes clean of any dirt or grime. Clean the whole shoe including the tongue, collar, eyelets, and insole. These are generally ignored in a hurry. 
  3. Take a soft-bristled shoe brush and give your shoes a light brushing to remove any excess dirt still clinging to the shoes. Use soft bristles whether made of horsehair or synthetically produced.
  4. Take some leather cleaner and apply it to the shoes thoroughly until they are clean.
  5. Follow this procedure if your shoes have oil or grease stains. Sprinkle talcum powder over your leather shoes and wait for a couple of hours. It is going to absorb the oil and grease and thus remove the stains from your shoes. 
  6. Use a wax leather polish to maintain shine and prevent your shoes from drying out. Use the shoe brush and apply a thin and uniform layer of polish to the shoes. Apply it thoroughly on the vamp, tongue, and all the leather parts. Wait for 2 or 3 minutes so that leather absorbs the polish. Ensure the polish is not applied to non-leathery parts of the shoe like eyelets and soles. 
  7. After the waiting time is over, take the brush and polish the shoes with soft strokes. This should take another 2 or 3 minutes to complete.
  8. Now buff the shoes with a microfiber or cotton cloth. Insert the shoelaces to finish the procedure of leather shoes care.


Note- 1. If you do not have a shoe brush, use a clean cotton cloth or a soft toothbrush. In case you do not have shoe polish in your hand, use paraffin wax or petroleum jelly. 

  1. Use separate brushes for separate colors. Using the same brush for polishing black and then tan or brown shoes may discolor the shoes. 

B. Patent and Faux Leather Shoes

Patent leather shoes are glossy leather shoes with a highly polished surface. Patent leather is also called enameled leather. Patent leather is created from either genuine or faux leather that is coated with synthetic materials. Patent leather shoes are comparatively easy to clean and preserve as their glossy surface prevents water from damaging them. Use the following procedure to clean them. 

  1. Take the laces out of the shoes. Wash them separately with water or put them in a mesh bag and throw them with other clothes in the washing machine. 
  2. Pour some liquid soap into a container and mix a small amount of water in it. 
  3. Using a clean cotton cloth apply this mixture to the shoes and wipe them completely to remove dirt and grime. 
  4. Take a cotton ball, gauze, or even earbuds if you do not have the former. Apply some medicinal alcohol to it. 
  5. Apply this to any scuff marks on the shoes and rub them gently to remove the marks. 
  6. Purchase a patent leather shoe cleaner from a shoe store or through any popular e-commerce website. Pour five or six drops of this cleanser on a clean cotton cloth and apply it to the leather parts of the shoe.
  7. Now buff and shine the shoes with this cloth. 
  8. Reinsert the shoelaces to finish the procedure.


Note-1. If you do not have medicinal alcohol, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These have become so common and are readily available during this epidemic period. 

     2. If you do not have a patent leather shoe cleaner, substitute it with mineral oil or apply petroleum jelly.



How to Clean Suede Leather Shoes and Nubuck Shoes?

Suede leather shoes are beautiful to look at but require some careful handling. Suede and Nubuck leather is soft and textured and attracts dirt and is prone to getting dirty due to this reason only. But following the below-mentioned tips, you can easily clean them and return them to their former glory.  

  1. Use a shoe brush made specifically for cleaning suede shoes. These have soft nylon bristles which do not harm the suede leather and are best for suede leather shoes care.
  2. Usually a suede shoe brush has a rubbery backside. This rubbery portion is used to remove scuff marks suffered by the shoe. If the brush does not come with a rubbery side, use a rubber pencil eraser to remove the scuff marks. 
  3. If your suede leather shoes have grease or oil stains, then sprinkle cornstarch or baby powder over the stains and cover the stains completely. Leave them for two or three hours.
  4. After two or three hours brush the stained area gently. Cornstarch or baby starch would have absorbed the grease and oil by then. Say hello to your stain-free shoes. 
  5. Apply a silicon-based shoe spray after the cleaning for enhanced protection. This spray is readily available at shoe stores and e-commerce sites. and protects your suede shoes. 

Can Leather Shoes Be Washed?

Absolutely not! Do not wash your leather shoes. These beauties may get ruined if you commit this horrible crime. Yes, your shoes may get muddy and full of dirt during this monsoon season. But do not wash them to clean the mud and dirt. You may need a little bit of water to clean which we have elaborated on below.  

  1. First of all, remove the dirt through a dry cloth or a quick vigorous brushing. 
  2. Then take a slightly wet cotton cloth and wipe the remaining dirt still clinging to the shoes. 
  3. Use a dry cloth again to remove any dampness left. 
  4. Use this procedure every time your leather shoes get muddy and very dirty to clean.  


So, these were some tips on how to clean leather shoes. Besides these pointers, use these simple tips for enhanced care of your shoes. Get shoe trees for your expensive shoes and slip the shoes in them to maintain their shape and form. Also, put your shoes in a dust bag and then store them in a shoe rack or closet to prevent dust particles and grime. By following these easy-to-do instructions, you can maintain and preserve your leather shoes for many years to come.

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