How To Care For Patent Leather Shoes

The distinct finish on patent leather shoes requires more frequent care and maintenance than on normal leather or suede shoes, but the process is actually easier because of the way this finish is created.

Cleaning Patent Leather Shoes

Note that patent leather is different than normal leather because of the mirror finish. The key to maintaining the finish is avoiding anything that could scratch or dull it. With traditional leather shoes, it’s recommended to use brushes to remove dirt and grime - not the case with patent leather! Even the softest brushes can be abrasive to the leather’s surface, so avoid using them. 

For a quick cleaning, don’t underestimate the power of a damp rag. A quick once-over with a damp rag can remove light layers or dirt or dust, and can be done on a daily or weekly basis to maintain appearances. Use a clean microfiber rag to prevent scratches - microfiber towels are extra soft and less likely to cause abrasion.

To remove scuff marks, use a soft pencil eraser. The eraser can remove scuffs that were transferred into the shoes after making contact with another surface.

For a more serious cleaning, start by wiping the shoes down with a wet, soapy rag (also microfiber). Baby wipes are another option - they’re soft and gentle enough to prevent damage to the leather, whereas other cleaning wipes can contain harsh chemicals. Industrial cleaners and solvents are NOT recommended for cleaning any type of leather, so avoid those. For a leather-specific wipe, Kiwi makes a set of Express Clean & Shine wipes that can be used in a pinch.

After the soapy water/baby wipe cleaning, follow up by wiping the shoes down with a clean wet rag to remove any residue. Next, use a dry microfiber cloth to remove excess moisture.

Shining Patent Leather Shoes

Patent leather shoes don’t require polishing like most leathers. The glossy finish is created when traditional leather is sealed, typically with a polyurethane/acrylic material. This treatment seals the leather behind an impenetrable surface, which doesn’t allow polish to permeate the leather.

Protecting Patent Leather Shoes

Regular maintenance on patent leather shoes with keep them looking sharp for a long time. As with any leather shoe, keep them out of direct sunlight and heat when storing them, and use shoe trees to store them, remove moisture and help keep their shape.