How to Care for Leather Shoes

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Dansko - Rudy (Brown Scrunched Full-Grain Leather) - Footwear

Dansko Rudy Leather Clogs
, $90

Buying leather shoes is almost always a good investment. They add a touch of class and character to any wardrobe, but often pose a problem for those who don’t understand that they require a bit more attention than other materials. Leather comes in many different forms and it’s important to care for your particular item accordingly. Brands from Clarks to dansko make popular leather designs and no one wants to see them ruined by disuse. Maintain the quality feel of your leather shoes with these tips for leather care.


If leather seems a lot like skin, that’s because it is. Leather is susceptible to UV damage, dirt and oils just like you are. It also gets older, it can dry out and it can crack. Cleaning and conditioning your leather wares will go a long way to preserve your leather for years. Cleaning can be as simple as wiping items down with a damp cloth. There are also leather cleaners available in stores for less than $10. This will wash the surface dirt off of the item and prepare it for conditioning.


The manufacturing process for leather often includes a tanning process that infuses the leather with oils to make it soft and durable. Over time, the oils that keep the leather from stiffening deplete. Make sure to condition your leather at least once a year, if you want it to last as long as possible. You can either take shoes in to get them treated, or purchase one of the many conditioning products available on the market.

Avoid the Elements

Despite being durable, leather is not indestructible and a number of elements can ruin it, including but not limited to: chemicals (alcohol, bleach, household cleaners, etc.), humidity, intense heat and too much water. Aside from the damp cloth you use to clean the leather, try to keep your items as dry as possible. Soaking leather is a big no-no. On the same token, you don’t want your leather to be scorched; high heat will dry out leather and shorten its lifespan.


Despite your intense efforts, your shoes have been stained! It’s a travesty, but don’t worry. In most instances of staining there is a solution. As is the case with anything that stains, try to clean it immediately using mild soap (soap flakes and a fourth cup of water should be all you need) or the aforementioned leather cleaner. Early detection is the difference between stain removal and having a permanent blotch.

Don’t be intimidated by leather footwear. It does require more attention than your standard tennis shoe, but if you take care of your leather properly you could have a pair of shoes to grow old with and possibly even pass down.

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