If you don’t have a favorite pair of leather shoes or boots, you are definitely missing out. But since you’re here, you probably do. Leather shoes are comfortable, stylish, and with the right maintenance, they can last for years. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about proper cleaning and maintenance of leather shoes.

How to Clean Leather Shoes at Home

Cleaning your leather shoes at home is simple and easy to do. To do this, you’ll need a soft brush, some kind of cleaning agent and a leather conditioner or shoe polish. You can purchase a cleaning agent made specifically for your shoes, but there are some household items that will work just as well.

The Mister Mint website recommends using Combi Foam since it does a great job at removing water and salt stains which are by far the most common.

How To Clean & Shine Leather Shoes! (A Minute To Clean)

The Clean My Space YouTube channel demonstrates how to keep leather shoes (specifically leather dress shoes) clean by providing them the occasional polish and shine.

The video will show you how to clean, shine and polish your leather soles and shoes so that your footwear retains that fresh, polished look.

According to Stylecraze, you can also try using toothpaste or baking soda.

When it comes to toothpaste, you just need to take a small amount of it and rub it into your shoes using a soft brush. If you’re cleaning with baking soda, use a damp soft cloth instead of the brush. Finally, according to DIY Network, a solution of mild dish soap and water might be your best option.

Whatever cleaning agent you decide to use, make sure to wipe it off with a clean damp cloth when you are done. Let the shoes dry naturally and your good to go!

With Vinegar

Cleaning leather shoes with vinegar is one of the most popular methods besides the ones we already mentioned. You probably already have some white vinegar at home, so this method is quite convenient.

According to HomeQuicks, it works especially well when it comes to removing salt stains. They recommend making a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Just take a clean cloth and use it to rub the solution all over your shoes.

Using Leather Conditioner

Applying conditioner to your leather shoes on a regular basis is highly recommendable. You should definitely do it after cleaning if you don’t want the leather to dry out and start cracking. According to the Art of Manliness website, most shoe polishes will only make your shoes shiny, but they don’t moisturize the leather.

Look for a conditioner or cream instead. If you are the DIY type, FabHow has some recipes for homemade shoe polish and shoe conditioner. They recommend mixing lemon juice and olive oil to make a conditioner, or different combinations of oils and beeswax for shoe polish.

Whichever product you choose for leather conditioning, always make sure to test it first. Apply a bit of the product to a small area of your shoe that’s hidden from sight, to check if the leather changes color.

Dealing With Suede

Suede leather has a special grain and you need to clean them with extra care. To do this, you’ll need a special suede brush. You can purchase these as part of suede cleaning kits. Before you start cleaning, make sure that your shoes are completely dry. Brush them gently with the suede brush to remove any dirt and be persistent. You can apply a coat of special suede protector when you are done. Don’t use products for regular leather on suede.

Cleaning Leather Ballet Shoes

The best leather cleaning agent for leather ballet shoes is white vinegar. All you’ll need is white vinegar, some cotton balls or a soft cloth, and optionally some conditioner. To clean your shoes, take a small bowl and pour a small amount of white vinegar. Take a cotton ball, dip it into the vinegar and gently clean all the dirt and debris off your shoes. It should come off quite easily.

Once you are finished it is a good idea to apply some kind of conditioning agent to your leather ballet shoes. This will keep them soft and malleable and keep the leather from cracking.

If your ballet shoes are dark or black, Leaf.tv recommends using olive oil as a natural leather conditioner. You can use extra virgin olive oil or any other kind. Just take a fresh cotton ball, dip it into the olive oil, and gently swipe over your shoes.

Olive oil might leave stains on white or light leather. Use calamine lotion as a conditioner for pink leather ballet shoes. Allow your shoes to dry naturally in an open area after treatment.

Eliminating Leather Shoes Stains

Water stains are by far the most common stains you will get on leather shoes. They are basically inevitable, but they are also quite easy to remove. Just take a wet cloth and go over the whole surface of the shoe. This will even out the color nicely.

For ink stains, you can use either rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Use a cotton swab to gently pat the stain. Avoid rubbing because you could smear the ink and make the stain larger.

If your shoes are in a light color, you can also try a stain remover made of equal parts of cream of tartar and lemon juice. Apply to the stain, let it sit for a while, and clean off with a clean damp cloth. Again, whichever method you use, make sure to test it out on a small concealed area to avoid ruining your shoes.

How to Clean The Inside Of Leather Shoes

Leather is generally very breathable, but sometimes the insides of your leather shoes actually need to be washed. If your shoes have started to get a bad smell, there is a couple of things you can do.

First of all, you can actually wash the inside of your leather shoe. Don’t submerge them in water though. Use mild some mixed with warm water and use a sponge or a cloth to clean the inside of the shoe. The-vu magazine recommends spraying a disinfectant like Lysol to ward off bacteria.