How to Clean Leather Shoes

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How to Clean Leather Shoes

Leather shoes tend to last for quite a long time, as long as they are cared for properly. While some owners recommend cleaning leather shoes weekly, most owners can get away with cleaning their shoes a little less often. If the shoes are frequently worn, however, it is a good idea to clean them regularly to ensure the leather does not dry out and crack. With a simple tool kit, leather shoe owners can keep their shoes looking terrific.


Materials needed

Before cleaning, gather all of the items needed to clean leather shoes. This ensures that all of the necessary items are within reach when the cleaning process begins. If possible, store a shoe cleaning kit in your closet to make cleaning time less of a hassle. Items to help clean leather shoes include:

  • Old newspapers
  • Soft cloths or old T-shirts
  • Saddle soap
  • Banana peels or olive oil


Cleaning leather shoes

To start, go outside and knock the soles of the shoes against each other. This helps to remove loose dirt and debris from both the sole and the upper. Next, spread old newspapers to protect tables or furniture from potentially harmful cleaning products. Dampen a soft cloth or part of an old T-shirt and rub it into the saddle soap.

Work the saddle soap into the leather in a circular motion, being sure to get into all the areas of the exterior of the shoe. Let the soap sit for a few minutes. Dampen a fresh, soft cloth or T-shirt, and wipe away the saddle soap. Continue the process with fresh cloths until the soap is wiped clean.


After cleaning, conditioning helps to polish the leather and protect it from drying out. Shoe polish is one tool that is useful, but some find the ingredients to be concerning. Another approach is to use either banana peels or olive oil directly on the leather. For the banana peels, rub the inside of the peel along the entire outside of the shoe. If using olive oil, place a small amount on a soft cloth and buff it into the leather. After either treatment, buff the shoe thoroughly with a clean, soft cloth.


Removing stains from leather shoes

Stains on leather shoes are particularly troublesome when trying to make a good impression. If the regular cleaning does not remove the problem, then there are additional steps to try. It is always a good idea to try treatments on a portion of the leather that is not readily visible to ensure that no damage occurs if the reaction is unsatisfactory.


Some ink is more stubborn than others, but almost all ink is easy to remove with the assistance of some simple household items. First, dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and gently work at the ink spot. Repeat until the stain is gone. Try to apply the rubbing alcohol only to the ink stain itself to avoid creating another stain somewhere else on the shoe.

Water spots

Water spots might actually form if the leather gets too wet during the cleaning process. Ironically, the best solution is to wet the area again, and to use a soft towel to blot the water out. Blot until the leather is almost dry, then let the shoes air dry.


Salt is a common problem in winter and it damages leather quite a bit. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water to remedy this issue. Place a small amount on a soft cloth and buff the solution into the salted areas. Be careful not to get the leather too wet, as this may create water spots. Repeat as needed, and follow with a conditioning treatment for best results.


Cleaning patent leather shoes

Patent leather is genuine leather with an extremely high-gloss finish over the top. While the process protects the leather, the glossy finish sometimes needs additional help. To clean patent leather shoes, apply a small dab of petroleum jelly to a clean soft cloth and buff the shoe. Finish with a final buff with a clean soft cloth to remove any excess petroleum jelly.


How to buy items to clean leather shoes on eBay

The sellers on eBay offer a wide-range of items that help keep leather shoes looking their very best. Start by performing a general search for the item you need, such as "soft cloths". If you know that you prefer a specific fabric, such as cotton, include that in the search box found on any page to narrow the results. If your shoes need replacement parts, such as laces, do not forget to pick those up as well.

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