How to Clean Leather Shoes

by Contributing Writer

Keeping your leather shoes clean and nicely polished is very important. First of all, it shows you’re well groomed. Secondly, it can open doors for you whether it’s making a good first impression or landing that special job. These methods can also keep leather purses looking great. Here are some tips to keep them looking like new.

Step 1

First of all you’ll want to clean your leather shoes frequently with a damp cloth. Then, take a little saddle soap and work well into the leather. Buff well for a nice sheen. An old cotton T-shirt works great. For areas where the leather is more worn, you might want to polish after wiping with a damp cloth.

Step 2

If you have spots on your shoes and boots here are some solutions to remove them. Remember to try out any method on an inconspicuous part of the shoe or boot. Dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and rub the spot until it’s gone. This works for removing ink. Or, you can try using cuticle remover--that’s not polish remover. Again, use a cotton swab or a cotton ball with a bit of cuticle remover on it. Water spots can be easily removed by dampening the area again and rub dry with an absorbent towel. Allow shoes to finish drying in an area not in direct sunlight or near a heat source. Aerosol hair spray works for some stains. Spray directly on the stain and wipe off; it may take several spray/wipe before the stain is completely removed. If you get salt stains on your shoes or boots, try this--dampen a soft cloth with equal parts of water and white vinegar and wipe shoes. Afterward be sure to condition well because salt can be very damaging. For other stains make a paste of one part lemon juice to one part cream of tartar and work into the leather. For especially bad stains, you can leave this paste on the leather for a couple of hours. Again, condition well after cleaning.

Step 3

Before polishing your shoes, cover an area with newspaper and do this in a well-ventilated area. Treat all shoe polish as a dangerous chemical and keep it out of reach of children and pets. Open the bottle of shoe polish carefully (I had one burst all over my white car, garage floor and walls – yes, it was black shoe polish.) Follow directions on the bottle (or can, if it’s paste polish). Paste polish will take a bit longer to work into the leather but it does an excellent job. After the shoes are well dried, you can buff them with a soft cloth for a nice sheen.

Tips

  • By choosing good quality leather shoes and taking good care of them, you’ll have new looking shoes lasting for many years.