How to clean and care for your leather Shoes
Nearly every shoe of merit (apart from perhaps crocs or something along those lines) is constructed to some degree of leather. Yes, it may be faux leather, but the point is made that leather is dominant on shoes. Care and maintenance of the shoes we buy can help to alleviate the financial burden of purchasing new products, as the price for luxury shoes can get easily into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Here are a few tips to help you care for your leather shoes.
Use wooden inserts when not in use
If you have a luxury leather shoe, then it is advised that you maintain the shape of your shoe by using a wooden insert when the shoe is not in use. The wooden foot, minimizes the risk of other shoes and debris in your closet (or wherever you happen to take off your shoes) from pressing against the material and causing it to bend unnaturally. I am sure that we have all seen loafers that have that definitive bulge in the middle from being pressed down by other shoes, briefcases, etc. If you do not want to use wooden inserts on your shoes, at least put them back in the box or on a shoe rack to avoid damage.
Remember that water is not a friend of leather
Lighter hides, especially nubuck leather and sheep skin leather, are very susceptible to water damage. As the material is made of pores, your shoes will work like a giant sponge where water is concerned. And while you cannot avoid a rainy day, you can take measures to ensure that you dry your shoes once indoors. The use of a hair dryer is recommended, though you can use a towel if needed. Just keep in mind that shoes which are not fully dried can crack or have water stains upon them.
Clean and condition your shoes
Leather cleaners and conditioners can be found in abundance. I would urge you against purchasing the generic cleaners and conditioners unless you know for a fact that your leather shoe can handle it. If you have any questions about the type of cleaner which you should use on your leather shoes, talk to your local leather artisan. Cleaning should be done regularly but not excessively. Over cleaning your shoes can wear down the durability of the hide, especially if you are OCD on the cleanliness of nubuck leather or sheepskin leather which is already fragile and susceptible to tearing.
Get a sole
You would be amazed to find the number of perfectly good leather luxurious shoes which are thrown out due to a worn out sole. If your shoes cost hundreds of dollars, or even if they do not, it is a shame to just chunk them because they have had high levels of use. Replacing the sole of a shoe can be accomplished on most leather shoes by simply bringing the shoe to a skilled leather artisan. As in many cases he sole is glued on, it is only a matter of ordering or fitting a new rubber or wooden sole to your shoe (for a fraction of the price it would cost to replace).
Have deep scratches and stains buffed by a professional
Cobblers still have a profession in this country and still do a good job with their services. Deep scratches, stains, and blemishes on your leather shoes should be fixed by a professional leather artisan or a cobbler. A professional in will not only remove the damage from the shoe, but will apply leather cleaners and conditioners to the shoe to help prevent damage in the future. Again, this is far less costly than buying a new set of loafers.
What you can do if you don’t want to worry about maintenance and repairs of shoes
There are some individuals who would rather have a new pair of shoes than pay the cost of repairs and cleaning. This is quite fine. I would ask only that those which have the means of buying new leather shoes (even if the shoes being purchased are $20 tennis shoes) give their old shoes to a donation/charity organization so that others which are less fortunate can have footwear. Trust me, if they are too damaged the organization or charity drive will let you know. On the flip side, I have never once heard of a donation center saying “those shoes are just too nice, we can’t take them”
Clean them, maintain them, and if you choose to replace them (and they can still be worn) pass them on.