How to Care for Leather Shoes

03 Aug 2018

How to Care for Leather Shoes


  • Your shoes should be cleaned after each wear, or at the very least before the following day, with a light wipe down using a brush and cloth to restore the shine. After every 10-12 polishes it is necessary to condition them.
  • The leather of a shoe is delicate; there is no need for polishes which cover up the creases, but for creams which nourish the leather and slow the process of ageing. The best products are of a creamy consistency because cream more easily penetrates the leather.
  • Use shoe brushes made from natural materials with long, soft bristles. These will polish more effectively.
  • Use cream conditioners extremely sparingly. You should apply a pea size to start, and re-apply as needed. The polished finish is obtained by allowing the cream to penetrate the pores of the leather without blocking them; an excess of grease will only prevent the leather breathing. Less is more!
  • Don't forget that shoes should only be cleaned when they are completely dry. Allow them to dry at room temperature; avoid leaving them near a source of heat, as this will harden the leather. If your leather shoes are very wet, stuff them with a small towel to draw out the moisture and allow to dry naturally.
  • Leather shoes can require a day to dry out from natural perspiration. Avoid wearing your shoes on consecutive days. Try to alternate your footwear daily to allow the leather to dry.
  • Always wear socks with your shoes, and always use a shoe horn to put shoes on to avoid the back of the shoes weakening.


  • Zanolin Cream Cleaner (available at supermarkets)
  • Shoe Brush
  • A clean T-Shirt/Rag for polishing

Before you start applying polish to the shoes, you need to prepare them. Using a clean cloth and a light spray of water, lightly rub the surface of the shoes to remove any accumulated dust and dirt. This ensures a dirt free surface, and avoids any unwanted scratching of the leather prior to conditioning. Wait for them to be fully dry before proceeding.
It is always good to buff the shoes first, as it removes any dirt that is trapped in the seams.
Now it is time to use some muscle! Spend a few minutes with your brush buffing all over the shoe, including the soles (for full leather soles only), to level out any scuffing or marks on the shoes.
Don't be afraid if you see some light scratch marks on the leather after buffing, as the conditioner will fill these in and remove them. Please do not use the brush on any patent or suede leather shoes, as it will damage the leather.
Leather is a skin and needs to be routinely moisturized, otherwise it can dry out and crack.
When it comes to the conditioner, always use a pea size amount at a time, and re-apply as needed. Caked-on shoe polish wont help with the shine of your shoe.
Using your cloth and conditioner, buff the conditioner into your shoes in small layers, using tight, circular motions. Once you have covered the entire shoe surface, use your cloth to lightly wipe away any excess product. It is best to apply the conditioner onto the cloth first, instead of directly onto the shoe.
Try to avoid directly applying the creams into crevasses/perforation/brogue detailing, and on the stitching, as it can be hard to remove and can discolour the thread.
After the initial shine, leave the shoes alone for around ten minutes. The shoes will develop a slight haze as the conditioner dries. After the ten minutes is up, use another cloth to buff away the haze.
Using your cloth, tightly wrap it around your finger, and in circular motions quickly go over the whole shoe to give it a final shine.
It is always best to go back and give the toe and heel another shine, as these are the most visible parts of a man's shoe.
You are now good to go!


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