Did you know that every year the leather industry generates a huge $53.8 billion?
There's no doubt that leather is a popular material - particularly for shoes! It's durable, stylish, and very versatile, helping to make everything from hiking boots to evening heels. But, leather is only ever as good as the person who cares for it.
If you don't maintain your leather it's bound to fall apart and won't last for nearly as long as it should! But how do you take care of it properly?
To help you, here's our guide to leather shoe care.
Why Bother With Leather Shoe Care?
You might think your leather shoes are tough enough to withstand the test of time without a helping hand, but this definitely isn't the case! Although they are durable, there are still plenty of things that can cause long-lasting damage.
Leather is a type of skin and, just like your skin, it can need some TLC to keep it looking it's best. It can dry out very easily, absorb too much water, crack, and stain if you don't protect and nourish it. Once it's lost it's natural moisture and oils, there's not much you can do but replace your shoes.
To stop your leather from becoming ruined by wear, let's take a look at how to care for leather shoes.
Clean and Wash Your Leather
First things first, you need to keep your leather shoes clean. This is arguably the most important step and should be done frequently. Simply use a soft brush to remove any dirt, dust, and debris that's attached itself to your shoes after a day of wear.
Next, it's time to wash your leather. Use a gentle leather soap that's mild enough to not damage the material or any finishes, but effective enough to remove dirt and salt. Apply it using a damp cloth and make sure not to soak the leather with water.
To make sure you have everything you need, look into investing in a good leather shoe care kit. Once you have the whole set, it'll be simple to keep your shoes looking their best.
Remove Water and Salt Stains
Have you ever noticed your leather is stained by what looks like watermarks? It's a very common problem, and it's actually salt stains!
Salt is used in the process to make most leathers and when your shoe is soaked by water, that salt rises up to the surface of the material and leaves an unsightly mark. Your shoes can often pick up salt when you're outside, too, particularly if you're in an area that uses a lot of grit on the roads. Whilst this won't necessarily lead to your shoes falling apart, it can ruin their look.
When it comes to leather shoes, care tips to get rid of these stains are essential. The best DIY solution involves mixing one part white vinegar with two parts water. Stir the mixture well before applying it to a clean cloth. Rub the stain with the cloth until the stain disappears.
Polish Your Shoes
Once you've used your leather shoe care set to properly clean your shoes, it's time to move onto the next stage; protecting them! To avoid future damage and keep your boots, heels, and sneakers in good condition, it's vital you put some time into protecting them.
First of all, find a good quality leather polish. The wrong type can damage the surfaces of certain leathers, which you definitely don't want. If you can opt for a cream polish that's designed specifically for luxury leather as it'll be the gentlest and most effective.
Apply the polish with either a clean cloth or a soft brush, making sure you get it into every crevice of your shoes. This might take a bit of elbow grease, so be prepared!
If you're looking at matte leather shoe care, don't be put off by polish. As long as you only apply one thin layer and don't spend too long buffing your shoes, they should stay matte. Even if they have a little more shine than you're used to, it's worth it to keep them protected!
Condition the Leather
Once your shoes are nicely polished, apply a quality conditioner to keep your leather supple, soft, and flexible. This is going to provide a protective layer to stop it cracking, which is essential if you want your shoes to last! Make sure you find a conditioner that's safe for use on all colors and focuses on nourishing the leather.
Finally, it's time to protect your shoes against the elements with a protector. A spray leather protector is usually the easiest to use. Just give your shoes a quick spritz and they'll be ready to take on the world!
Your protector should be water repellant as well as protecting against salt and mud stains.
Store Your Shoes Correctly
You might not realize it, but how you store your shoes can actually play a big part in how long they last. Here are some tips for storing yours:
- Stuff wet leather shoes with newspaper overnight and let them air dry
- Use shoe trees to help keep the shape of your shoes
- Place your shoes in a shoe bag to protect from sunlight and dust
Put Time into Your Leather Shoe Care
Leather shoe care can take time, but it's well worth it if you want to wear your favorite shoes for years to come! It's also far more sustainable to look after the shoes you have rather than continuously buy new ones. So, do your part for the planet and your wallet and take care of your leather.
For more quality shoe cleaning and protecting products, be sure to check out the full range at Simple Shine.