Shoe Cleaning Tips: Your guide to caring for your leather shoes

January 30, 2019

For a lot of us, this is the time of year our leather shoes take a beating in the snow, salt, and messy conditions winter brings. Giving your favorite leather shoes a little TLC on the regular will help extend their lifespan and make them look better day to day. Leather should last a long time, but if it’s not cared for properly, you could find yourself losing your favorite pair of shoes sooner than you think.
Shoe cleaning, polishing and conditioning supplies should last you a while, and caring for your shoes only takes a few minutes. Complete the whole shoe cleaning process about once a month and watch it pay off — you’ll love seeing your shoes look just as good as they did when you bought them, and you’ll feel good wearing them knowing they’ll last longer.


The minor stuff
Got a little dirt or debris on your shoes? Use a dry cloth and lightly brush the minor stuff off. If you need to, dampen the cloth to get the rest off.
Deeper cleans
Lather some saddle soap onto your shoe, using a damp cloth to clean.
Water stains
Water stains on shoes are inevitable. The best way to stop them from leaving a permanent mark is to address them before they set in and dry. Dab — don’t wipe — the wet spot with a dry cloth to absorb as much water as possible.
If the water stain dries, you can use a wet cloth to even out the color by barely dampening the shoe leather from top to bottom, using less water as you move away from the water stain.  

Polishing & Conditioning

After you clean your shoes, you can polish and condition them to give them a pristine glow, or you can do one or the other. If you’re doing both, start with conditioning. Use conditioner to protect your favorite kicks from everyday elements and restore moisture to the leather. You’ll want to use a neutral or color-matched conditioner to hide any blemishes or scrapes. Condition the uppers of your shoes using a soft cloth, using a circular motion. Give them a good buff with a horsehair brush after they’re dry.
For shoe polishing, you can opt for a neutral or color-matched wax polish too. Polishing brings out the leather’s natural color more and boosts its shine. Use soft cloth to polish each shoe, just like you did with conditioning. If you use a color-matched option for either conditioning or polishing, make sure you have a different brush for each color so different shades don’t show up on your shoes.


Further protect your leather shoes by storing them in the proper place using the proper technique. Keep them at room temperature since extreme temperatures tend to damage leather. Each pair of Marc Nolan shoes comes carefully packaged with micro suede dust bags and a wooden shoe horn. When you’re done wearing your shoes, place the shoe horns back in and pack them up in their dust bags.

Common Shoe Cleaning Mistakes

  • Don’t use heat to dry your shoes when cleaning. Doing so can cause the leather to dry out, crack and fade. Always allow them to air dry and stuff them with newspaper to help them retain their shape.
  • Don’t use acetone or alcohol-based cleaners for painted or dyed shoes. They’ll remove the finish.
  • Don’t store your leather shoes in plastic.
  • Avoid using a sponge when cleaning. They can be too rough for the leather or contain chemicals that can damage the shoes’ finish.

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