It’s an age-old problem that so many of us run into when we buy a great new pair of leather shoes or boots: we wear them once or twice, they get wet by rain or snow or whatever else Mother Nature may have in store for your new beauties, and then all of a sudden they’re ruined, and all of that money that you spent on the beautiful leather has gone straight down the drain.
At Family Footwear Center, we don’t want this to be you! We want to teach you how to properly care for your leather shoes the right way – the way that keeps them impeccably clean and makes them last for years to come, no matter the leather material they are made from.
Cowhides and polished leathers can vary in weight but are often cared for in many of the same ways as one another. You’ll want to remove any dirt, dried mud, dust, etc. with a soft brush or light rag to help keep these leathers clean, and apply some sort of leather conditioner or balm that can more thoroughly clean the stains on the leather itself.
For polished leathers, we recommend using a very thin coat of a neutral shoe cream that you can rub into the leather surface with a cloth or rag to help keep that polished, shiny look. If you want even more shine, consider using a thin coat of wax polish that’s close to the color of the leather you’re working with – so for lighter leathers, use neutral paste, and for darker colors, use some sort of matching polish. Voila – your leather shoes will shine forever!
Suede shoes are always so beautiful when you first buy them, but that luxurious look is so easily ruined if the material isn’t properly cared for. So for starters, when you buy a new pair of suede shoes, make sure you treat them first thing with 2 coats of a waterproof finish, allowing each coat to try in between each application for best results. Then just make sure for the remainder of the shoes’ lifespan that you keep the material free from drying agents like mud and dirt, and for any areas that get “snuffed” or matted down in any way, just take a fine abrasive paper to that area of the shoe to bring the texture back to life.
Caring for suede is actually quite easy to do, so just take care with these materials and your shoes will last beautifully!
Since naked finish leathers are basically just that – naked – they need a bit more special care than other types of leathers. Again, you’ll just want to make sure you keep your naked finish leather shoes free of dirt and mud buildup by brushing them clean with a cloth, brush or rag of some sort.
Whatever you do, don’t use any conditioners on naked finish leathers because any of these products would just discolor the beautiful raw look of your leather! Instead, treat naked leathers like you would suede, and give them 2 coats of a waterproofing agent when the shoes are new and make sure you do your best to keep the shoes free from any natural elements that could dry out the leather, like mud or caked on dirt.
Oil or impregnated leathers are typically heavier in weight and used in many popular work boot and casual boot styles. The fiber is already lubricated with oils to help protect the material and give them a glorious color. So caring for these leathers can be quite simple – just make sure, as with most leather shoes, that you make an effort to keep the shoes free of dirt and dust build-up with a soft cloth or rag.
Then, should the oils begin to take on a sort of dried-out look, just replenish the oils with a leather conditioner that you work thoroughly into the material. The leather should hold its shine and soft finish with these simple care steps.
Materials such as alligator or snake skin fall under the exotic leathers category, as do shark skins, ostrich skins and kangaroo skins. They’re called exotic for a reason!
These materials also require a bit of special care since they are such rare and different textures and fabrics. First, as with most leather shoes, do your best to keep them clean with a cloth or brush to prevent dirt or mud build-up. Then apply a special reptile conditioner to the materials with a light cloth, let the conditioner dry and buff the surface with a dry side of the same soft cloth. Repeat this process often (go gently!) to maintain the luxurious look of these exotic leathers.
Even when the best precautions are taken to try to protect and care for your leather, accidents still happen, and sometimes your best leather shoes will suffer from a rotten stain. Rather than take a risk and try something that you don’t know will work or not, just err on the side of caution and take your shoes to a leather professional to have them assess the stain and advise you on the best ways to remove it. Or, you could simply cut your losses, and purchase a brand new shiny pair of leather shoes or boots!
Take good care of your leather, and your leather will certainly be good to you!
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