How to Clean Dress Shoes: The Key Steps to Take

What is the best way to clean mens and womens dress shoes

Styles change over time, but the dress shoe has remained an essential part of fashion and professionalism for many decades. The dress shoe traces its origin all the way back to 1640, coming out of Europe. In the 1800s, they became popular and today, they are still the height of fashion.

No man's wardrobe is complete without dress shoes, and his suite of stylish skills cannot be complete without learning how to clean dress shoes. 

Read on to learn all about how to polish and clean your shoes, as well as the importance of doing so.

Why Is It Important to Clean Dress Shoes?

The first and most obvious reason to maintain clean dress shoes is for the sake of appearance. A well-cared-for shoe, cleaned and polished, will catch the eye and reflect impressively upon the wearer.

On the other hand, the powerful magic of a beautiful dress shoe is powerless to impress if you do not keep it well-maintained.

The second reason that it's important to know how to shine dress shoes and to do so regularly, is for the sake of the shoe's longevity. Classic dress shoes are made of leather.

Well cared for leather is beautiful and supple, resisting water and maintaining a smooth surface. On the other hand, the elements of nature and the wear and tear of ordinary use will detract from it. Without cleaning and polishing, a dress shoe can become stiff and begin to crack.

If your shoes have already cracked, then it is too late to save them. Cracked dress shoes can only be replaced, whether in part or in full. On the other hand, if your shoes are stiff, but not yet cracked, you can coax them back to their former beauty with proper treatment.

Keep your shoes well cared for, and you'll enjoy beautiful shoes for many years.

Tools for Cleaning Dress Shoes

There are a variety of products and tools you can use to get the most out of your dress shoes. The Pareto principle applies here. You can get close to 80% of the desired benefits by putting in just 20% of the work!

If you want to take your game to the next level and take good care of your shoes, you'll need to become something of a shoe expert en miniature. A variety of products go into keeping a shoe at its very best.

We are talking specifically about polished dress shoes here.  Suede shoes will require different techniques and you can read more about keeping your suede shoes clean here.

The most important products you'll need are a brush, some cleaner, and a good polish. These alone will get you 80% of the way to excellent shoe maintenance.

To progress beyond that, you will need a leather conditioner, and potentially a leather stretch and some shoehorns. Shoe dyes can keep your shoes shining brilliantly with their original color.

While the basic tools, a brush, a cleaner, and a polish, will allow you to maintain shoes looking professional and stylish for years, a full shoe care regimen can allow you to look every day like you just walked out of the store with a new pair of gleaming dress shoes.

How to Clean Dress Shoes

Before you begin to shine your shoes, it can help to remove the laces. If you leave the laces in your shoe, they will provide a shield of sorts that will "protect" parts of your shoe from the nourishment and beautifying power of your maintenance regimen.

Next, you'll want to fill your shoe with something, like a newspaper or a cloth. This will allow you to apply all the needed pressure to the surface of your shoe without crushing it or bending it.

You'll first use your brush all over the surface of your shoe. You'll need to pay extra attention to any parts of the shoe that are visibly dirty. This brushing will remove dirt and other contaminants.

Once this preliminary cleaning is done, it's time to apply your shoe cleaner. The instructions on the cleaner will provide any product-specific details, but in general, you will apply the cleaner all across the shoe.

Often, the shoe cleaner will evaporate into the air, so you don't need to wipe it off. Once your shoe is clean of dirt and stains, you can apply the polish.

Polishing Your Dress Shoes

The polish is the most important step in the process. It will make your dress shoes look shinier and higher quality. It will also moisten the leather and help it to resist water damage.

Apply the polish all across the leather of your shoe. Make sure to cover every area, including the welt of the shoe. Once the polish is applied, your shoe should have an even, dull look to it.

To make it shine, you must now wipe and polish the shoe. Use your brush or any cloth to rapidly rub the surface of your shoe.

A small amount of moisture can also assist in the shining process. That's where therm "spit-shine" comes from.

Polishing your dress shoes isn't difficult and can keep your shoes in tip-top shape.

Other Ways to Care for Your Dress Shoes

Learning how to polish dress shoes may be the most important way to care for them, but here are some easy ways to build on it.

Make sure to engage in activities appropriate to your footwear! Don't run or engage in athletic activities in dress shoes.

It can also help to rotate between multiple pairs of shoes. If you wear the same pair of shoes every day, it will wear out far faster than if you give it a day's break in between wearings.

Quality products will save you money in the long run. If necessary, you might consider saving up to buy quality dress shoes. With proper care, they will last you for many years!

Always Look Your Best

Now that you know more about how to clean dress shoes and keep them in the best shape possible, you're probably interested in getting some products that will make it much easier. 

To learn more about how to keep your shoes, jewelry, and more in top condition, check out our other pages and our shoe care products today.

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