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Nothing looks classier than a pair of well-maintained leather shoes. They immediately boost your style quotient and elevate your appearance. But, like anything else, these have their drawbacks. With time, scuff marks and wrinkles start appearing. But guess what? It is not difficult to keep your shoes in fine condition with a little cleaning at regular intervals. Knowing how to clean leather shoes will keep them looking good for years while still preserving the material. 

Things you need before you start to clean your shoes

If your shoes are made of suede, they might need special attention. Be sure to read the instructions on how to clean them, further down in this article. For the regular leather shoes, you’ll need the following items.

  • Shoe cleaning brush to scrape loose dirt from between the grooves.
  • Shoe polish to polish and maintain the color of your shoes.
  • Shoe protector spray to protect your shoes against rain and mud. 
  • A soft cloth
  • Soap water

Cleaning instructions for your leather shoes

Before you begin, lay down sheets of newspaper or a towel on your work surface to make cleanup easier and to prevent any damage. Once you have got it in place, you can move on to the next step:

1. Take off your shoelaces

You need to remove the laces to avoid them getting rubbed with polish or getting soaked in water. However, they also need to be washed from time to time. If they’re dirty, wash them with soap water or toss them in the washing machine.

2. Remove dirt and debris with a brush

Dirt weakens the fibers of your leather boots, causing unrepairable cracks, so use a cleaning shoe brush to remove any loose dirt, mud, or salt from the leather surfaces. While washing, pay special attention to scuffs and scrapes to prevent damage. Brushing off dirt after each wear will make buffing and polishing your leather shoes easier, later on.

3. To remove stubborn stains, use soap

Many of us might ask this question: Can leather shoes be washed? Well, the answer is: only in unavoidable circumstances. And that too while making sure that the leather does not get too wet. Dip a cloth or a soft shoe brush into water, mix in a little soap, and wipe the leather shoe’s exterior. Instead of using too much water and soap all at once, it’s easier to repeat the procedure with less water and soap. To remove scuff marks or rough stains, dab on them. If they still aren’t gone, begin gently rubbing the stain with a little pressure.

4. Remove soap from the surface

Clean away the soap with a dry cloth until all the stains have been washed, then wait until they’re dry enough to polish. This can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour. In addition, shoe stretchers may be inserted into your leather shoes to help preserve their shape.

5. Use polish and a shoe brush to rub them

Apply a neutral or similar-colored polish in a circular motion around the entire leather shoe with a smooth, soft cloth. This nourishes the shoe, protects them from stains, and enhances the color. However, be cautious to avoid the stitching that is of a different color.

6. Polish your shoes

Allow the polish to soak for a few minutes after you have applied it all over the shoe. After that, using a fresh clean soft cloth or a buffing brush, shine the shoe properly with quick yet steady swipes.

7. Allow drying

Allow your boots and shoes to dry outside. Avoid exposing them to the sun or a heater, as this can cause discoloration and cracks in the leather.

8. Spray them with a protector spray

After cleaning and shining your leather shoes, spray them with a strong protector spray from a distance of 30 cm. This will make your shoes soft, supple, and waterproof. If you live in a rainy city, make sure to repeat this process at least four times a year. 

Leather shoes care for different types of materials

Leather shoes care methods can vary for different types of leather. So that your leather shoes don’t get worn out too soon, we’ve made it simple for you and broken down what you need to know about each one:

1. Pull Up Leather

This leather, which feels slightly oily to the touch, has a trick to get it cleaned. Scratch the surface gently and then rub with a dry finger to remove any stain or mark.

What to preserve- Colour; use the correct wax color to match the original hue.

Products that are best for this kind of leather are, beeswax-based polish and high-quality leather conditioner.

2. Chamois Leather

Leather shoes made of this material are ultra-soft and pliable, and they can soak up water like no one else.

What to preserve- Keep it clean and free of stains. You’ll need a lint roller to get rid of all the unwanted debris (roll in one direction).

Products that are best for this kind of leather are, suede shoe brush, rubber eraser or natural crepe rubber, suede cleaner, and suede spray.

3. Suede Leather

A shoe made of Suede leather must be rotated; otherwise, the shoes will appear worn and bleached. Even overcleaning will do more harm than good to your suede. So how to clean suede leather shoes? Hold the shoe by the spout of a steaming kettle at a safe distance, and buff out the stain with an emery board to soften hardened mud stains.

What to preserve- Immediate stains, and moisture.

Products that are best for this kind of leather are, suede-specific brushes, cleaners, sprays, and rubber eraser for stains.

4. Pebbled Leather

Pebbled leather has a rugged charm that makes you want to take another look. This is, unsurprisingly, the easiest type of leather to care for. Wipe down with a damp cloth on a regular basis, moisturize with an oil-based conditioner, and cover with the appropriate beeswax finish.

What to preserve- Texture.

Products that are best for this kind of leather are good leather conditioner and beeswax-based polish.


Though taking care of your leather shoes is quite simple, yet there is one main factor that can be tricky at times: timing. If you want to extend the life of your leather shoes, we suggest cleaning them as soon as they get soiled. Only then would you be able to stop the accumulation of long-term dirt and stains. Given the right conditions and treatment, leather shoes will last for years if properly cared for.