Below are two processes which reflect both simple and more in depth methods to help maintain and preserve your shoes.
Everyday care (5 minutes)
- Insert a cedar shoe tree if possible. This applies to boots as well. Shoe trees can help wick away moisture and will support the upper to reduce creasing.
- If your shoes are dirty, a moist towel or cloth can be used to remove any sediments. Once you wipe down the whole shoe, the leather will have a matte look.
- Depending on wear and the environment the shoes are in, a conditioner or shoe cream can be applied every few weeks. Fundamentally, if the leather looks or feels dry, a conditioner should be used. Shoe polish wax is mainly used to enhance color or shine (more on this below). A good test would be to brush the shoe and see how the leather responds. If the surface looks dry or flat, apply a small amount of shoe cream in circular motions using a cloth.
- Finally, using a brush or a polishing cloth you can then go over the entire shoe to bring out the wax and oils that are in the leather.
We suggest to rotate your shoes wearing them every other day which will extend the life of your shoes. This is particularly crucial when the shoes are subject to wet conditions.
Clean, Condition and Shine (30 - 60 minutes)
Below is a step-by-step process to clean and shine your shoes at home. In this example, we are polishing a shoe which has a casual, oily leather upper (Chromexcel). If you are polishing a calf leather, the process is very similar although it can be easier to achieve a high shine. This is because most mirror shines are created by layers of wax slowly built on the article's surface. This can be difficult to do on a softer, oily leather. Most calf articles have a tighter grain structure and are tanned with lower oil content levels, which make a great surface to built a wax shine.
3) Wipe down the entire shoe with a moist (water) cloth or cleaning brush. For the welts, a small brush or even toothbrush can be used.
4) Apply a shoe cream/conditioner. There are many good products for this application. In this example we are using a white Venetian cream. This cream is a popular choice not only because it can be used as a conditioner and create a sheen, but it contains lanolin wax which is known for it's hydration properties. The idea is to nourish the leather to keep it from getting dry and cracking. It can also be applied to the welt deck with a small brush.
5) After letting the shoe cream work into the leather, use a brush to buff the shoe.
6) Now you can apply a wax polish with a cotton cloth. In this example we are using a Saphir polish. You will find it is much easier to apply the wax if the cloth is wrapped around your hand. Here, we are using a cotton shirt cut into a strip. When it comes to the wax color, this is personal preference. For most dress shoes, it is best to find a polish that is similar to the leather color. A quality wax polish will help rejuvenate the color and create a depth in the finish.
Work the polish onto the leather in circular motions in an effort to apply an even layer across the upper. The polish can also be applied to the welt and outsole edge.
7) Once the entire shoe is finished, buff the upper again with the brush.
8) For the final touches, you can then use a shoe polish cloth or even nylon stockings to buff out a higher shine. Breathing on the shoe or applying drops of water while buffing will also help achieve a high sheen.
If you would like to apply a mirror shine, revert back to step 6 and repeat. Work the wax polish in small circles onto the the upper using drops of water to help disperse the wax. This will take some trial and error to find the right amount of wax and water. The idea is to create a very smooth surface which will slowly appear as you are applying these layers. The result can be quite rewarding but this process requires a bit of practice and patience. See the photo below of a Black French calf Longwing after a wax shine.
How can I remove scuffs or deep marks on the leather?
The backside of a spoon is a great tool for this. Use a small amount of shoe cream to allow the spoon to glide over the leather without causing friction. Work the scratch out with the spoon, applying pressure as needed to smooth out the scratch.
Can leather soles be worn in rain?
Yes, they can. After you remove your shoes, allow them to completely dry without using any direct heat. A fan will help speed up the process while not harming the leather.
What type of shoe cream and polish should I use?
There are many good shoe polish brands. We offer Venetian Cream which is considered a 2-in-1 cream for many leather types. It hydrates the leather but also contains wax which will create a shine. However, if a high shine is desired, a harder consistency shoe polish is needed. We frequently use Saphir, Meltonian and KIWI.