How to Clean Dress Shoes: Pre-Care Tips and Basic Care
It’s Saturday morning. You just grabbed a fresh cup of coffee, and now it is time to go to the front door. As soon as you’re out, there it is. The package you’ve been waiting for: A new pair of leather shoes.
You take them inside, and when you open the box, you stare at them in silence. The beautiful smell of leather starts floating in the air.
You pass your fingers over the uppers to feel the texture, you look at the sole and give it a light tap. They are not only excellent quality, but they look dang good. You definitely wish they will look this great forever. And let me tell you, it is something you can achieve.
Leather is a material we have used for thousands of years for many of our goods. It is durable, comfortable and beautiful.
So how do you make sure your leather shoes get the care they deserve? Remember leather is, after all, made from a type of skin. And just like your skin you want to make sure it is well protected, clean and nourished.
But there’s nothing to worry about. Just read the following tips on how to clean your suede and leather shoes, and you can make sure your shoes will always look as good as new.
Pre-Care Tips for Suede Shoes
We all know it is better to be safe than sorry. And probably, the most important thing you can do for your suede shoes is to isolate them from water.
You see, water and suede really don’t mix well. If water penetrates your shoe, it will affect the shape of it, and it might stain the nap.
Usually, suede shoes already have been treated with a waterproof product when you buy them. Still, it is good to waterproof your shoes once in a while. Follow these steps to protect your suede shoes from rain and other types of stains:
1. Brush your suede with a suede brush.
2. Evenly apply a layer of a waterproofing product, such as Saphir Super Invulner Waterproofing Spray, on the uppers. It is recommended to do this in an open area and at a distance of 6 to 12 inches from the shoe.
3. Allow the product to dry from 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Apply a neutral wax polish to the welt with a welt brush for additional water protection.
5. With a cotton cloth, apply a product on your sole like Saphir Guard Sole to protect it from water.
Watch this tutorial on how to waterproof your shoes. Once you have followed these steps, you will notice any water drops will be repelled for your uppers. Then, you’ll be ready to go out on any rainy day.
How to Clean Suede Shoes
Now, some people refrain from buying suede shoes, as they think it is a very delicate material. But if you have a good care routine, you’ll get a great pair of shoes that will last for ages.
Check out the following tips on how to clean your suede shoes on a weekly basis:
1. Brush your shoes to remove any dirt or particles. You can do this with a suede brush or a crepe suede brush, which has a gummy texture. This last brush is a little bit more delicate, and it is perfect for nubuck shoes. But the regular suede brush will get deeper into the suede nap. With either brush, try not to brush too hard as you will damage the suede.
2. To remove any marks or dry stains, you can use a suede gum or an eraser. Use some firm pressure on the eraser to get into the stains.
3. After using the eraser, brush the shoe again to re-fluff the suede pile. This will also remove the white particles left by the gum.
For a deeper cleaning of your suede shoes, use products to shampoo and condition your suede. This will not only re-nourish the suede, but it will help it to re-fluff and regain color.
However, I strongly advise not to do this at home, unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s easy to ruin suede shoes, so maybe it is better to take them to a professional:
1. Mix a shampooing product, such as Saphir Omni Nettoyant shampoo, with water, and with the help of a brush, apply the mixture vigorously into the uppers.
2. Rinse your shoes with water and stuff them with newspaper to let them dry overnight.
3. Once your shoes are dry, brush them with a suede brush.
4. After they are brushed, apply a conditioner product like the Saphir Renovateur Conditioning Spray to renovate suede.
For a video guide on how to clean your suede shoes, click here.
How to Clean Leather Shoes
Now let’s talk about some caring tips for your leather shoes. Even though smooth leather shoes are more resistant than suede ones, your shoe will eventually accumulate some dirt. Also, it is very important to keep leather nourished and shiny with polish creams.
Follow these tips for some basic cleaning and polishing of your leather shoes:
1. Brush your shoes with a horsehair brush to dust off any dirt. You can also use a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dirt particles.
2. Apply a small amount of nourishing cream polish to your shoe with a soft cloth.
3. Let the cream dry and absorb for a few minutes.
4. Buff the cream off with your horsehair brush.
5. For extra shine, buff your shoe with a clean cotton cloth.
For a video guide on how to clean and polish leather shoes, click here.
As you might know already, leather is a very strong and durable material. With a weekly care routine, you’ll prolong the lifespan of your shoes and they will always look stunning.
Just keep in mind, the tips and products we’ve recommended are good for full-grain leathers and suede.
If this is the first time you’re using any products on your shoes, just remember to test it on a hidden part first. You want to make sure your shoes react well to the products and your leather is not ruined.
Then, give yourself some time during your week to clean your shoes. It is not only therapeutic, but we all know clean and well-polished shoes will be the icing on the cake for your looks.
Thanks to Kirby Allison's Hanger Project for his fantastic tutorials about shoe care and his recommendation of products.
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