Leather shoes are a staple in many wardrobes and a timeless and fashionable way to complete any outfit. With daily wear, they can get rather dirty, and it’s best practice to clean them the right way to keep them supple and comfortable. I will discuss how to clean leather shoes properly, including a step-by-step for the best results.
How to clean leather shoes properly is removing dirt and debris without damaging the material. Leather shoes can be cleaned with a soft-bristled brush, leather cleaner, pH-neutral soap and water, and leather conditioner. Test new products in an inconspicuous area and never use too much water.
Leather shoes are great for daily wear, but they get dirty and lose their shine over time. It’s time to learn how to clean leather shoes properly for a durable, comfortable fit that lasts a long time.
What Is Cleaning Leather Shoes?
Cleaning leather shoes is using one of several methods to remove dirt, debris, stains, and smells from leather without damaging the material. This is an important part of maintaining quality and longevity. Using the right cleaning products for leather shoes is imperative to keep them looking and feeling great.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- Reasons You Might Choose To Clean Leather Shoes
- Variations or Styles of How To Clean Leather Shoes
- How To Clean Leather Shoes Overview Table
- Skill Level of How To Clean Leather Shoes
- Leather Shoe Cleaner
- Tools and Supplies Needed To Clean Leather Shoes
- How To Clean Leather Shoes Step by Step
- How to Get Better at Cleaning Leather Shoes
- My Personal Research on How To Clean Leather Shoes
- Helpful Insights on How To Clean Leather Shoes
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
A common myth around cleaning leather shoes is that vinegar is safe if properly diluted. However, vinegar is an acid and, if used to clean leather, will lead to the material drying out and cracking over time.
It has also been said that homemade solutions are great for cleaning leather shoes, but in reality, these can be complicated and actually damage leather rather than clean it. Some will talk about using olive or other cooking oils to clean and condition leather shoes, but all this does is create a film and soften leather excessively.
Reasons You Might Choose To Clean Leather Shoes
Leather shoes are exposed to many things with daily use, which can lead to the material looking dingy and dirty in a relatively short time. It’s just good practice to clean leather shoes regularly to maintain the material, finish, and fit. Other reasons for choosing to clean leather shoes include:
- Looking dingy
- Dirt and mud
- Water damage
- Unpleasant smells
Regular proper cleaning of leather shoes can also help maintain their shape, finish, and durability.
Variations or Styles of How To Clean Leather Shoes
As there are several types of leather and leather shoes, there are variations in how to clean them. The chosen method should correlate with the type of leather and the type of dirt or stains present. The most common ways to clean leather shoes are:
- Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
- Leather cleaner
- pH-neutral soap and water
- Leather conditioner
Always check the care label of leather shoes for any specific cleaning recommendations.
How To Clean Leather Shoes Overview Table
|Area of Preparation||Details|
|Technique||How To Clean Leather Shoes|
|Overall Level of Skill (1–5)||1|
|Time to Complete (minutes/hours)||30–60 minutes|
|Skills Needed||Basic leather care|
|Tools and Supplies Needed||Leather cleaner, pH-neutral soap, water, bowl, soft-bristled brush or toothbrush, microfiber towels or old t-shirts, leather conditioner|
|Key Helpful Tip||Avoid getting leather too wet; apply leather conditioner when completely dry.|
Skill Level of How To Clean Leather Shoes
Cleaning leather shoes does not take a high level of skill, just a little knowledge of how to care for leather. It may seem daunting to the inexperienced, but as long as a few things are kept in mind, it is easy to clean leather properly. The key helpful tips include the following:
- Avoid getting leather too wet. Excess water leads to stains and mold in leather.
- Allow leather to air dry completely and away from heat sources and direct sunlight. This prevents the drying out and cracking of leather.
- Always apply leather conditioner once the leather is completely dry to keep it supple and soft.
Leather Shoe Cleaner
Leather shoe cleaner is an essential tool, and several different types of leather shoe cleaners exist that are specially formulated for different types of leather and leather finishes. The best cleaners are not combination cleaner-conditioner because, convenient and cheap as it may seem, it is not the best way to clean and condition leather.
Always choose a pH-neutral cleaner free of harsh chemicals that can damage leather. With the right leather shoe cleaner and a little work, leather shoes can look great for many years.
Leather shoes should be cleaned every three months to keep them supple and comfortable.
Tools and Supplies Needed To Clean Leather Shoes
Few supplies are needed to properly clean shoes; however, always test any cleaners in an inconspicuous spot before applying them to the entire shoe and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When preparing to clean leather shoes, gather the following tools and supplies:
- Leather cleaner
- pH-neutral soap
- Warm water
- Large bowl
- Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
- Microfiber towels or old T-shirts
- Leather conditioner
How To Clean Leather Shoes Step by Step
Cleaning leather shoes can help maintain their appearance and durability and can be done in just a few easy steps.
- Use a soft-bristled brush or vacuum to remove dirt, debris, and dust.
- Remove any shoelaces. Soak in soapy water.
- Mix one teaspoon of pH-neutral soap in two cups of water and create suds or use leather cleaner.
- Test the cleaner or soap mixture in an inconspicuous area to check for colorfastness and staining.
- Dip the microfiber towel or old t-shirt in the soap mixture or leather cleaner, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Squeeze out any excess moisture from the towel.
- Gently wipe the leather shoes in a single direction using the damp towel. Do not scrub.
- Use a clean, dry towel to wipe away any excess soap and moisture.
- Allow the leather shoes to air dry completely.
- Apply leather conditioner in an even coating with a clean, soft cloth.
- Use a clean, soft cloth to buff away any excess leather conditioner.
Here’s a helpful video from Clean My Space demonstrating how to clean leather shoes properly.
How To Get Better at Cleaning Leather Shoes
So how can I get better at cleaning leather shoes? Just keep doing it! Clean leather shoes regularly, about every three months, or when visibly soiled. Clean up any spills as they occur to prevent stains and mold. Be aware of the specific kind of leather and which products are best for each.
There are several types of leather and faux leathers, and according to researchers Meyer, Dietrich, Schulz, and Mondschein, leather still has the highest levels of strength, tear resistance, and water vapor absorption, which is why cleaning it properly is so important. Test new products in inconspicuous areas. Try different methods and products for cleaning and learn from your mistakes. This is how one gets better at cleaning leather shoes!
My Personal Research on How To Clean Leather Shoes
How do some people clean their leather shoes? I asked some friends on social media, and these are their preferred methods, and here were their responses.
|Leather Shoe Cleaning Method||Times Selected|
|Soap and water||33%|
Helpful Insights On How To Clean Leather Shoes
How do you clean leather shoes without ruining them?
To clean leather shoes without ruining them, remove dirt and debris with a soft brush. Follow instructions for leather cleaners and conditioners or mix a few drops of pH-neutral soap in warm water, using a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to gently rub the leather, then wipe off any excess soap and air dry.
How should I clean leather shoes?
Leather shoes can be cleaned with a soft brush, leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water, and leather conditioner. Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to gently rub the leather with the cleanser and remove any excess soap and moisture. Air dry completely and apply leather conditioner.
How do you clean leather sneakers at home?
To clean leather sneakers at home, remove the laces and soak them in soapy water. Remove loose dirt with a soft brush. Mix some pH-neutral soap in warm water and create suds, then dampen a microfiber towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Gently rub the leather sneakers with the towel, then use a clean towel to remove any leftover soap and water. Air dry and apply leather conditioner.
Can you clean leather shoes with Dawn soap?
Dawn soap can be used to clean leather shoes if it is diluted in water. It is slightly basic at pH 9.0, which will not damage the leather. All it takes is a few drops of Dawn soap in a cup of water, mixed to create suds. Then use a microfiber towel or soft brush to gently rub the soapy mixture onto the leather shoes, being careful not to apply too much water.
- Leather shoes can be cleaned with a soft-bristled brush, leather cleaner and conditioner, and pH-neutral soap and water.
- Never use too much water or soak leather shoes in water to prevent stains and mold.
- Leather shoes should be cleaned every three months to keep them supple and comfortable.
Cleaning leather shoes is an important part of keeping them looking their best. Following the tips in this article, anyone can keep them clean and well-maintained for many years. With a little effort and the right tools, leather shoes can always look great and last decades.
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