- Mar 2019
How To Care For Leather Shoes & Boots
Leather is a great material for making shoes and boots because of its style, durability and comfort. Durability is one of the major perks, but that comes at a cost. Leather is made from animal hides (usually cattle) and to make sure leather doesn’t deteriorate, it needs more maintenance than materials like fabric or rubber.
Samuel Hubbard shoes and boots are made with the finest European leathers, handmade in Portugal to our exacting specifications. Premium materials require premium care in order to meet their full potential for longevity and durability. Follow these tips to care for your leather shoes or boots.
Cleaning & Washing
Basic cleaning can be done by taking a clean rag or cloth, dampening it with water, and wiping off grit and grime. It takes less than 5 minutes and you can repeat as often as needed, which is especially convenient for shoes you wear every day.
Don’t use too much water (which may lead to discoloration) and make sure to use a dry rag or cloth to wipe off any excess moisture when you’re done. Some cleaning guides recommend baby wipes, but we suggest testing on an inconspicuous spot to make sure they don’t cause damage or discoloration. DO NOT put your leather shoes or boots in the washing machine and NEVER use serious cleaning products or chemicals if they aren’t designed for leather shoes specifically.
For a more thorough cleaning, you can remove the laces and insoles and clean them separately. There are also techniques for removing oil or salt stains using talcum powder or baking soda. Learn more about cleaning leather shoes and boots and check out our cleaning guide for nubuck and suede shoes too.
Conditioning & Polishing
After cleaning your shoes/boots, polishing is the next step to restoring that glossy shine. How often to polish your footwear depends on how often you wear them and what kind of conditions you wear them in. For infrequent wearers, polishing 1-2 times a year might make sense. For daily wearers, polishing every 1-2 months might be needed.
You’ll need a few supplies like shoe polish, brushes, and microfiber rags for buffing. Make sure the brushes are designed for leather and not suede or nubuck (suede/nubuck brushes have stiffer bristles). For polishes, we recommend KIWI products - make sure to use a polish that is closely color-matched with your shoes or boots.
Check out our full guide to polishing leather shoes.
Storing leather shoes and boots is pretty simple, but make sure to follow these guidelines:
Don’t store them in direct sunlight or high temperatures, which can dry out the leather causing fading and even cracking.
Shoe racks or cabinets can be used to store and organize multiple pairs. We recommend open air racks to reduce moisture and decrease odors.
For long-term storage, cedar shoe trees can be used to help shoes and boots maintain their shape and limit creasing.
If you’re thinking of buying and using moth balls - don’t. Get some cedar balls instead. They smell better, they’re better for the environment and they repel insects just as well as moth balls.
For older shoes that are starting to feel long in the tooth, resoling might be an option. Whether a shoe can be resoled depends on how it was constructed in the first place. If the uppers are in good shape, resoling is a great way to add life at a lower cost than buying a new pair. A fresh outsole, a new pair of insoles and some new laces can make a shoe look like new.
Almost all Samuel Hubbard shoes can be resoled through our partnership with John Bradley at Resole Patrol.