Caring for leather shoes can be done at home with a couple of simple ingredients. Learn how to remove stains, clean and shine your leather shoes easily, without any special tools. Proper leather shoe care is often overlooked, but when done, your shoes will last you many years.
How to Care for Leather Shoes
If you have leather shoes or boots, you most likely paid a little extra for them and want to be sure to take good care of them.
A good pair of leather shoes can last you a lifetime if cared for properly. The shoes in these pics are well over 15 years old. Therefore, it is important to clean them with the right ingredients, shine them, and polish them.
Similar to leather furniture, you can use oil to shine and condition your leather shoes. But first, they need to be clean and free of stains.
How to Remove Stains from Leather Shoes
Leather can become stained from dirt, mud puddles, salt, grime, and other agents. A simple wiping may not remove the stain like it would on a non-leather material. The porous material of leather makes it prone to absorbing stains.
Ingredients needed for leather stain remover:
- Clean cloth
Instructions for removing stains on leather:
Make a vinegar wash solution by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water in a small bowl.
Dip a clean cloth into the bowl to soak it into the vinegar wash solution.
Gently scrub the stain with the wet cloth in a circular motion.
Wipe clean with a dry cloth.
Allow the shoes to air dry before conditioning them.
How to Condition Leather Shoes
Once the shoes are clean and free of stains, it is time to condition the leather. After cleaning, it is important to condition leather shoes to keep the leather from drying and cracking.
You can purchase a leather conditioner at the store, or you can make your own with a few simple ingredients. I like to make a conditioner bar for easy use and application.
Ingredients for Leather Conditioner Bar
- 2 tablespoons Coconut oil or mink oil
- 2 tablespoons beeswax
- 3-5 drops lemon essential oil
- Microfiber cloth
How to Make Leather Conditioner Bar
Melt the oil and beeswax in a small saucepan.
Remove from heat, allow it to cool slightly, and add in lemon essential oil.
Pour mixture into silicone molds.
Once hardened, about 4 hours, pop out of the mold.
How to Use Your Homemade Leather Conditioner Bar
Wipe the shoes with a clean, soft cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
If needed, remove any stains from the leather with the homemade stain remover listed above.
Allow the shoes to dry thoroughly.
Work the conditioner over the entire shoe. Wipe excess conditioner off with a clean microfiber cloth.
Repeat if needed.
Note: Test a small patch area on the back of the shoe before applying the conditioner over the entire shoe. Not all leather is the same after it is treated with chemicals and colors and may react differently to certain products.
Homemade Shoe Polish
The shoe conditioning bars will sufficiently protect the leather with its thin coating of wax. However, to get that shine we all love or to even out the color, shoe polish is the best bet.
Shoe Polish Ingredients
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 a tablespoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of black or brown oxide (for color, optional)
How to make and use shoe polish
Mix all ingredients in a small shallow tin.
Remove shoelaces, then apply polish to the shoe using a microfiber cloth. Work the polish in by using small gentle circular motions. Alternatively, you can use a horsehair brush to work the polish into the leather.
Wipe away any excess oil.
Buff with a clean, soft cloth.
How to Get Scuff Marks off Shoes
Scuff marks on leather shoes may require additional steps. However, a simple paste comprised of water and baking soda can effectively reduce the appearance of scuff marks.
Make a paste using baking soda and water. Start with two tbsp of baking soda, then add a splash of water at a time, stirring until it forms a thick paste.
Apply the baking soda paste to the scuff marks, gently polish the shoes, and wipe off the remaining paste with a clean cloth. After removing the scuff marks, continue with conditioning and then polishing the shoes.
How to Protect Leather Shoes
The best way to protect your leather shoes and extend their life is by conditioning them. Using a beeswax base conditioner will keep the leather from drying out and cracking.
Avoid mud, puddles, and inclement weather when wearing your leather dress shoes. Leather can get wet, but they need to be cared for properly afterward. If your shoes do get wet, allow them to air dry and then condition them.
When your leather shoes are not being worn, store them inside to keep them dry and out of the elements.
How to Clean Leather Boots
It’s no wonder most work boots are made of leather. Leather is incredibly durable, and though its porous, waterproof leather boots can be worked in the mud and rain.
However, just like with leather shoes, they need to be cleaned and conditioned properly to keep them from getting damaged and cracked.
If possible, polish your boots after each use. Doing so will make them last longer and keep them looking brand new.
Popular cleaning recipes
- Clean cloth
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or mink oil
- 2 tablespoons beeswax
- 3-5 drops lemon essential oil (optional)
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp of black or brown oxide (optional)
Leather Stain Remover
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a small bowl.
- Dip a clean cloth into the solution.
- Gently scrub the stain with the wet cloth in a circular motion.
- Wipe clean with a dry cloth.
- Allow the shoes to air-dry before conditioning them.
Leather Conditioner Bar
- Melt the oil and beeswax in a small saucepan.
- Remove from heat, allow it to cool slightly, and add in lemon essential oil.
- Pour mixture into silicone mold.
- Once harden, about 4 hours, remove from molds.
- Rub the bar over the entire shoe, wipe off excess conditioner with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Combine all ingredients in a shallow metal tin.
- Remove shoelaces.
- Work the polish into the leather using small circular motions with a microfiber cloth.
- Alternatively, you can use a horsehair brush to work the polish into the leather.
- Wipe off any excess oil.
- Buff with a clean, soft cloth.