How to clean and restore leather shoes the Cheaney way
When you invest in good shoes, it’s crucial to invest in good aftercare; correctly caring for your leather shoes ensures that your investment serves you well and lasts for years. At Cheaney, we want to equip you with the tools and knowledge to properly care for your shoes so that they will keep you in good stead for years to come. Here, we will teach you how to clean leather shoes, look after them with preventative care practices and restore them if they become damaged.
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How to clean leather shoes
Cleaning your leather shoes doesn’t have to be a laborious task. Frequent cleaning and practising good aftercare doesn’t take long and can keep your leather shoes looking top-notch to wear again and again. Here’s how to clean leather shoes the Cheaney way.
First, gather all your essential equipment for cleaning leather shoes. You will need
- A horsehair brush for buffing
- A welt brush for cleaning the welt
- A clean, white cotton cloth
- Shoe trees
- and good quality shoe cream.
First, ensure that your shoes are dry before cleaning, insert shoe trees into them and remove the laces.
To clean your leather shoes, brush off any mud, dirt, or dust from your shoe with your horsehair brush. Then brush off any dirt embedded in the welt with the welt brush; the “welt” is the hard-to-reach join between the sole and upper.
For surface-level stains like water damage, mud and scuffs, there’s nothing like a touch of Médaille d’Or’s Renovateur Crème to spruce up your leather shoes. Take your cotton cloth and apply a small amount to the affected area or the whole shoe, leave to dry for ten minutes and then buff with a polishing brush. As well as nourishing your leather shoes, the Saphire Médaille d’Or’s world-famous Renovateur Crème will gently cleanse the leather.
Can you put leather shoes in the washing machine?
The answer to this question is a hard no. Putting leather shoes in the washing machine will warp the leather and potentially melt the glue in the soles, and after the shoe dries, the leather will dry and crack.
You can use a damp cloth to clean stubborn stains and dirt. However, never submerge good quality leather shoes.
How do you clean leather shoes without damaging them?
Firstly, we recommend using high-quality shoe creams and polishes. There are cheaper options available. However, these often have silicone and other artificial additives that ultimately dry your shoes out, leading to premature ageing and cracking. There is nothing quite like natural ingredients, for example, beeswax, lanolin and mink oil.
A surefire way to clean leather shoes without damaging them is to test any new cleaning method, cream or polish on a discreet part of the shoe to test it before applying it to the whole shoe.
Restoring leather shoes
You can restore the colour, finish and shine of your shoes with coloured creams and polishes to keep them looking in top condition. Or, you can use our refurbishment service to replace a damaged sole or heel. Restoring your shoes when they become worn can help them last longer and reduce wastage.
Restoring the colour and shine of your leather shoes
Regular aftercare can keep your leather shoes looking pristine. However, if you have neglected a pair of leather shoes and they’re starting to look dull, dry or scuffed, you can restore them to mint condition by following these straightforward steps.
- Use the cream renovator steps from the cleaning portion of this guide to nourish, moisturise and clean your leather shoes. All our leather shoes will benefit from this practice.
- If you want to restore the colour of your leather shoe, use a colour cream similar to the colour of your shoe. We’ve created a guide called Leather After Care: Polishes, Creams & Colours, detailing the best creams and polishes to pair with each type and colour of leather that we use to help you find the best cleaning and restoring products.
- After cleaning the welt with the welt brush, use it to apply polish to it; this will rejuvenate the threads and keep them in good condition.
- Now apply polish to the rest of the shoe. Use your cotton cloth to apply polish in circular motions, don’t use too much, as a little goes a long way. If you have neglected your shoes, it might take a few layers of polish to bring out the shine. Don’t be afraid to apply pressure to push the polish wax into the pores to bring out a nice shiny finish.
- Leave the polish on for at least 20 minutes, but you can comfortably let it soak in overnight. The longer you leave it, the longer it has time to absorb the nourishment. Then, take the horseshoe brush and, with long strokes, brush off the excess polish. The heat from the friction will also create a brilliant shine. Repeat the last two steps as needed to restore your shoe finish.
Read Shoe Polishing: A Step-by-Step Care Guide for more tips and best practices on polishing and restoring your leather shoes’ colour and shine.
Repairing cracked leather boots and shoes
Our blog, How To Minimise Creasing On Leather Shoes, demonstrates that creasing is natural for leather shoes. Creases and lines always appear where your foot naturally bends. But to prevent cracking, we always recommend regular aftercare to keep the leather supple and using shoe trees to keep your shoes close to their intended shape. You can also help prevent creasing by purchasing shoes that fit and give your foot enough breathing space. Too little or too much room and the creases will be deep and weaken the leather, which will eventually crack.
Your shoes may also crack if submerged under water or dried quickly next to a radiator or in the sun. If you have an old pair of cracked boots in the back of your wardrobe, here is how to restore them.
If the crack is light and at the surface of the leather, you can use a good-quality conditioner to moisturise the fibres and blend the leather around the crack. Be aware that this will leave a scar as a crack is permanent. However, it will look more like a natural imperfection than a crack. If you have a deep-seated crack, use leather filler with a palette knife.
We will always recommend preventative aftercare rather than waiting until the problem occurs. Keeping your shoes free from cracks is easy with regular conditioning, polishing and storing them in a bag away from a heat source.
Our refurbishment service
If the soles of your shoes become worn out, it might be time to restore them with our refurbishment service. If the sole or heel of your Cheaney shoes is becoming paper thin, or the tread is wearing away, we can replace them through our refurbishment service so you can keep your beloved shoes longer. Drop your Cheaney shoes off at any Cheaney store if your soles need restoration.
Cleaning and restoring your leather shoes at Cheaney
By following these best practices, your Cheaney shoes will love you back and last for years. Don’t have time to polish your shoes? If you come into any of our stores, we offer a complimentary polishing service and are always happy to answer any questions about aftercare.