How to care for your leather shoes
March 15, 2023

How to care for your leather shoes


We bet the majority of your shoe collection is made from different types of leather. Despite being tough natural materials, leather still requires a certain level of care. Leather shoe care can seem daunting, but leather gets incredibly more durable when shown just a little TLC. 

It really comes down to two main concepts. Keep them clean. Keep them conditioned. 


The first and most important step in caring for your shoes is simple: keep them clean. 

Before you proceed, you’ll want to remove the laces and ideally insert shoe trees into your shoes. The shoe trees will provide a firm surface so that you can apply the shoe care products more easily. The knob also helps you  manoeuvre the shoe to target hard to reach places. Using a clean horsehair brush, clean off the dust and dirt that has accumulated in the crevices of the shoe, as well as flaking layers of polish. It is crucial to use horsehair (or some variation of natural hair), and never synthetic fibres. Synthetic fibres are too hard and will cause micro scratches on your leather.

If your shoes are water or salt-stained, take a mixture of two parts water to one part white vinegar, and apply to the affected areas, wiping until the stains disappear. 


Leather is made up of a tangle of fibres held together with protein bonds. Natural fats and oils keep the protein bonds strong. This is what gives leather its flexibility and durability. If leather loses its natural oils, it loses its flexibility and its fibrous interweave will start to crack and eventually break down. 

A good leather cream prevents this breakdown from happening by keeping fibres throughout the leather hydrated and flexible. Apply the leather cream with a clean, dry microfibre cloth. 

Make sure to apply thoroughly onto every inch of the leather, including the tongue and outsole. 


Over time, you may notice that you leather shoes start to fade and look dull. This is where good quality polish prolongs the life of the leather and maintains its appearance.

Shoe polish helps moisturise the leather while adding a layer of protection to repel dust and water. It also restores colour and hides scuffs and blemishes.

Ensure your shoes are dry before application. Apply the polish liberally with a microfibre cloth in a circular motion or horsehair shoe brush. Bunch or fold the cloth to buff in the polish. Use the cloth to distribute the product evenly across your shoes. Like the conditioner, work it into every crevice, then let it dry. Next, apply a waterproofing protectorthis works in tandem with water repulsion, allowing leather to breathe freely. How often should you polish your shoes? Do it every 6 weeks or so.


You can extend the life of your shoes dramatically with this single step alone - using cedar shoe trees. Perhaps THE most important yet usually most overlooked step in shoe care.

Leather is porous, so it absorbs moisture and odour, eventually causing it to break down. A shoe tree absorbs that moisture and odour while keeping the shoe’s proper shape to prevent creasing. 

Dust can work its way into leather shoes over time, resulting in staining and degradation. If you won’t be wearing your shoes on a regular basis, keep them in a fabric dust bag to shade the shoes from potentially damaging dust and sunlight while allowing them to breathe.

There are certainly other steps you can take to extend the life of your shoes, like taking them to a cobbler for rejuvenation. But these four simple steps will do most of the work. You’ll be surprised how much longer your shoes last if you take proper care of them.