Guys Grooming Blog - by Ellen Conlin Hair and Beauty


Cleaning Leather Shoes

Cleaning your leather shoes will keep them looking great and increase their life! Apart from regular cleaning, you should clean them immediately when they get soiled to prevent caked on dirt and stains. If your shoes are made of suede, read the special instructions at the end of this article – they require special care!

Good quality designer shoes should only be worn a maximum of twice a week, shoes are like suits and wearing them every day will take its toll, they need time to recover and rest.

Brush off dirt and debris with a soft cloth or brush. Consider doing this every time after wearing your shoes. This will make it easier to buff and polish them later.

Remove the laces from your shoes to prevent getting water or polish on them. 

Rub away scuffs with some water and saddle soap on a soft cloth. Careful not to get the leather too wet. It is better to do two applications with less water and soap. You can also use a commercial leather shoe cleaner (available in most shoe retailers). Suitable products may also be found where leather purses and handbags are sold.

WARNING: Never place leather shoes in the sun to dry—this can cause discolouration.




Remove salt stains (that white unsightly tide mark you see when wet shoes dry out!) from leather shoes by mixing a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Blot the solution all over the shoes with a clean, soft cloth and repeat as many times as necessary until all the salt is gone.


Polish your shoes every day or minimum twice a week or whenever needed (cream polish is best for maintaining leather or a good quality solid polish Kiwi or the like). Before you begin, lay newspaper over your workspace for easy clean up.


First, test the polish on an inconspicuous area to make sure it does not cause discolouration. Then use a clean, soft cloth to apply the polish in a circular motion across the entire shoe. Be careful around stitching that may be a different colour. When you’re finished, take another clean soft cloth and remove the polish in a circular motion.

Buff your shoes after they've dried by, again, using a soft cloth in circular motions. If you want them to shine, put a few drops of water on the cloth before you buff.

The phrase “Spit and Polish” comes originally from the British Army – new squaddies spent their downtime spitting and polishing their boots for their Drill sergeant. They applied loads of polish to their boots, spat on the polish duster and worked the polish into a very deep shine. At least 8-10 layers of this “spit and polish” was needed to be applied to create a “mirror finish”. Commonly known as “bulling your boots” this gave squaddies a focus, created competitiveness and pride in their turnout.

Use a leather conditioner or leather lotion at least twice a year to keep your shoes soft and supple. Without this treatment, leather shoes can dry out and cracks may appear.

Suede and Nubuck Shoes
Take special care with suede or Nubuck shoes. Do not use products designed for regular leather as this may ruin suede. For spots, try using an art gum eraser. If this doesn’t work, try some undiluted white vinegar on a soft cloth. Never rub suede—always blot! Once the spot is removed, brush the shoe and let dry.

Tips for Washing Shoes

Not really recommended, but trainers, pumps soft leisure shoes can be washed in a washing machine (not with clothes), this will give them a brand new look. Don't wash on a high heat - medium heat is perfect.

Saddle soap, which generally contains a mild soap plus lanolin, beeswax, glycerin, and neatsfoot oil is frequently and highly recommended to clean and condition shoes of leather.

For really stubborn stains on suede shoes, rubbing gently with super fine grit sandpaper will often remove them. Keep in mind that this will probably leave a lighter-coloured patch on your shoes. Also keep in mind that a light patch is often preferable to a stain.

Apply a weather-proofing spray before wearing leather or suede shoes and every time after cleaning.

Never put shoes in the dryer. The heat can damage shoe adhesive, and the tumbling, while generally safe for cats, can scuff and damage your shoes, since it can damage the adhesives that hold shoes together, many people will wash tennis shoes and canvas shoes in the washer. If you feel you must, wash them along with a load of laundry (sheets, towels) and encase them in their own pillowcase or mesh bag.

A 50/50 solution of white vinegar and salt is commonly used for washing shoes. It can be dabbed gently onto suede or canvas with a soft rag, cotton ball, or cotton swab to remove stains. After spot washing, rinse the area by dipping a clean white rag in distilled water, ringing out most of the water, and gently wiping the spot.

DO NOT use oven cleaner, drain cleaner, toilet cleaner, or bleach to clean shoes.

These are highly caustic chemicals that will break down fabrics and adhesives, and seriously diminish the life span of your shoes.

Baby wipes work very well for cleaning the soles of shoes.

Never dry shoes in the sun. It can cause fading, over drying, and cracking.

Clean Your Shoes . . . Naturally and Regularly!

It's the first thing that your potential mother in law will check out - Your Shoes!

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