How to Clean Leather Shoes

Leather shoes are known for their flexibility and durability, as long as they’re accurately maintained. And if you know how to clean leather shoes properly, you can preserve them for years. Don’t worry since we’re going to show you a regular maintenance routine below.

How to Clean Leather Shoes

How to Clean Leather Shoes

How to Take Care of Your Leather Shoes

To get the best appearance, you just remove any dirt when it comes. But, to get the longevity, the common cleaning will make your shoes last for a long time. The following method is what shoe stores or professionals suggest, and it always works in most cases. Normally, proper results will rely on how dirty the shoe’s surface is, and the accurate products you select to deal with the cleaning job.

First, prepare necessary tools

  • Soft and clean cloth and a shoe brush
  • Newspaper
  • Shoe polish
  • Shoe cleaner/comparable soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • White distilled vinegar

Let’s start cleaning

  • Step 1 – Before cleaning, you need to spread newspapers to protect your floor from being dirty.
  • Step 2 – Take out the shoelaces to make cleaning easier or the laces will block parts of the shoe’s surface.
  • Step 3 – Use the dry cloth or shoe brush to get rid of any excess dirt or debris that might be stuck to the shoes. Remember not to scrub or scrape too much because this action can cause unexpected damages.
  • Step 4 – Dampen another clean cloth and apply a small amount of shoe cleaner or soap on it. Then rub gently the dirty areas and scuff marks with a circular motion. For salt stains on the leather shoes, you need to make a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Make sure you also carry out a gentle rubbing action.
  • Step 5 – You can wash the laces in the washing machine with your regular laundry detergent or hand wash them in a small tub with detergent and warm water. Remember to dry them separately.
  • Step 6 – Once cleaning, let the shoes air dry. Avoid direct sun and heat because they can damage the leather.
  • Step 7 – Finally, polish the leather shoes by taking another dry, clean cloth and the shoe polish. This makes them look better and last longer as the years go on.

Apply the cloth with a small amount and rub with a circular motion on the shoes. Then wipe away with a different cloth. Keep in mind not to apply to areas made of non-leather material.

Let the shoes dry for a bit of time and continue applying another clean cloth with the conditioning product to prevent drying and stiffness. Don’t forget to clean again to finish the task. Here is a video of how to clean and polish the leather shoes:

Extra trips to consider

  • Avoid applying silicone-based weatherproofing since it might discolor the leather shoes.
  • For patent leather shoes, you should use a mixture of water and mild soap. Remember to clean them with a soft wet cloth and then apply a silicone-based polishing product to make it shine.
  • Instead of utilizing wax polish, you can use cream polish on the shoes to keep the leather last longer and always shine.

How to Make Homemade Cleaners for Your Leather Shoes

If you are out of the shoe cleaner and don’t have time to go out for buying the new one, you can make homemade cleaners with available stuff around the house. Although some might not be the best selection for each particular dirt, they can work in a pinch.

Vinegar + Water

It can be said that this mixture is highly mentioned as an efficient way to remove water spots and salt stains on your leather shoes. For spots caused by moisture alone, you can easily get rid of them by wetting the entire area and let it dry evenly. However, remember to apply condition afterward to keep the shoes soft since the vinegar mixture might dry the leather.

Cream of Tartar + Lemon juice

The mixture of lemon juice and cream of Tartar is effective for spot cleaning leather and small marks on the shoes. Wonderfully, it’s easy to find both ingredients at home. And after cleaning, don’t forget to apply the condition to prevent drying.

Water + soap

For cleaning leather products, it’s suggested to use a mild soap such as saddle or castile soap. The combo of water and soap will be effective for getting rid of light dirt if being used properly. Avoid adding too much moisture or the leather will absorb it and create extra stains to clean. The saddle soap often works well because it’s designed for availing on leather and contains a high level of oil than others.


For dealing with any greasy stain, you should use cornstarch to make the leather shoes clean. Rub the cornstarch vigorously right on the treated spots and then clean them. Make sure you do it as soon as possible in order to get an effective result because the cornstarch doesn’t act well in the older areas.

How to Make Homemade Conditioners

If you can make homemade cleaners for the leather shoes, it’s not hard to make homemade conditioners with stuff at home. Always remember that the conditioner is extremely important for these shoes because it prevents cracking and stiffness.

A mixture of vinegar and linseed oil brings the good results for the leather shoes than using olive oil directly. Additionally, you can utilize baby oil, banana peels, rubbing alcohol, Vaseline, or shampoo to clean or polish the shoes.

Final Thought

If you are dying to buy yourself the leather shoes, don’t forget to accept the suggestions of their maintenance. Although some reckon that having a pair of leather shoes is a great investment, make sure you take care of them correctly or you might throw yours away soon.

After completing this article, we hope that you know how to clean leather shoes as well as how to make homemade cleaners and conditions to treat your beloved shoes well. Follow carefully because it will help you save more money on looking for the new ones.

And don’t mind asking us anything you still wonder at caring for your leather shoes. We’re always willing to help you.

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