If you’re anything like me, you don’t bother too much with fashion “rules” that dictate what color you can wear when. Hence why my white sneakers are still in rotation well past Labor Day. But wearing white shoes in wintertime can be hazardous, if not downright suicidal. My pair definitely went through a lot throughout this particularly long season – what with the remnants from my daily public transit excursions, mystery stains leftover from traipsing through too many bars on St. Patrick’s Day, the snowstorms that are still coming in late April, etcetera, etcetera.
Household items like baking soda and vinegar make decent cleaners and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can work to spot clean. I’ve also used Huggies Natural Care wipes – which are free of parabens and other additives – to clean in a pinch. But the easiest and most effective way to clean leather shoes is to invest in a cleaning kit. The one I used is from Red Star Cobbler and retails for around $15. The Angelus brand kit includes a mild cleaning solution free of harsh chemicals and added fragrance or color, a soft-bristled brush to gently lift stains and a microfiber cleansing cloth. The company also sells acrylic leather paints to disguise scuffs.
Pour the liquid cleaner into a small bowl, dip the brush in and gently scrub the entire shoe upper in small circular motions. Pressing the bristles too hard could potentially damage the leather and a gentle hand is actually more effective in removing dirt. Using a cleaning tool with bristles will allow you to remove dirt that settles into all those hard to reach places on your shoes. Then simply wipe away the suds and dirt with the microfiber cloth. Let the shoes dry in a cool, clean area away from direct sunlight, as UV rays will discolor leather.
As for shoelaces, hand washing with a gentle soap is the best method for cleaning since throwing them in a washing machine will decrease the longevity of your laces. If you’re using bleach to remove stains, be sure to dilute it with water – one part bleach to 5 parts water is fairly standard. Then let them air dry since excessive heat from a dryer will contribute to the deterioration of the fabric.
A coat of protective spray will help to decrease the need for frequent cleanings and a conditioner will ensure that the leather stays moisturized. When not wearing shoes, keeping them in dust bags and boxes is ideal and a shoetree is never a bad idea.
There’s something about clean shoes that make you feel like a brand new human. And now you’re ready for any shenanigans summer throws your way.
Written and photographed by Hannah Swank
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