A step-by-step guide

If you wonder how to clean leather shoesYou have come to the right place.

We’ve put together a guide to walk you through the process, including some of the cleaning do’s and don’ts we recommend if you’re trying to keep your leather sneakers stain-free.

So whether you want to keep your best pair of Jordan 1s fresh or just get your best golf shoes ready for your next game, we’ve got you covered here.

Let’s start…

How to Clean Leather Shoes

The following method is what we think is the most effective way to clean a pair of plain leather sneakers.

We’ve also highlighted a few tips along the way, including tips for cleaning your white sneakers which are, arguably, the hardest to keep clean.

What you will need:

  • Soft bristle brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Neutral soap
  • shoe cleaner
  • Leather polish
  • Shoe protectors

Step 1: Before you start cleaning, remove the laces and let them soak in a mixture of warm water and soap while you continue with the rest of the cleaning.

Trick : You can add a touch of baking powder if your shoes have white laces to remove stubborn stains.

2nd step: Use a soft bristle brush to remove accumulated mud and dirt. We recommend doing this after most uses to prevent dirt from causing the leather to crack.

Step 3: Mix a small amount of shoe cleaner in a bowl of warm water.

Trick : You can buy dedicated shoe cleaners such as Angelus Easy Cleaner, but a neutral cleaning agent can also work. Use according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Dip your microfiber cloth into the mixture, squeeze out any excess water, and start rubbing the outside of your shoes in circular motions to get rid of any stains.

Step 5: Wipe off excess foam and let your shoes dry. Once completely dry, you can apply a clear shoe polish or a similar color. This is optional but depending on your shoes. Once soaked, polish with a brush.

Step 6: If you’re looking to minimize the frequency of cleaning your leather sneakers, you can also purchase a shoe protector spray. Again, this is an optional step depending on what you have available.

Trick : There are many shoe protectors on the market, including the very popular Crep Protect. Again, use as directed.

Step 7: Remove your laces from soaking and let them dry with your shoes naturally, away from direct sunlight. Once dry, lace up your sneakers and you should be good to go.

What about different types of leather?

You may find that different types of leather are used for different types of shoes, some of which require slightly different cleaning methods.

Here are some of our top tips when you come across an alternative leather to what you’re used to.

Patent leather

Patent leather is a type of coated material that has a high gloss finish.

You’ll most likely find patent leather on a pair of Jordans, like these “Concord Bred” 11s featured in our list of the best Jordan 11 colorways.

To clean, simply wipe the surface with a damp cloth before buffing the surface with a soft, dry microfiber cloth.

However, when cleaning patent leather, particularly if you are looking to restore its shine, we recommend sticking to products designed for the material to avoid leaving permanent marks.

Nubuck leather

Although technically leather, nubuck is more like suede and therefore should almost be treated as such when cleaning.

For example, these Salomon Quest 4 Element GTX, as featured in our list of the best hiking shoes, are made from nubuck leather which is then coated with the ultimate water-resistant GORE-TEX material.

To clean, you can use a suede brush to remove excess dirt, while a suede eraser can be used to remove more stubborn stains.

For more information and tips, check out our step-by-step guide to cleaning suede shoes here.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Leather Shoes

There are several do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when cleaning leather sneakers, so it’s important to know what not to do to avoid irreversible damage.

First, avoid using rough sponges or metal brushes. Both of these can create small permanent scratches in the leather which can damage the material.

Also, avoid using soap or detergent that contains a lot of chemicals. Not only is dish soap a degreaser that could remove oil from leather, but some cleaning products contain bleach that can cause serious long-term damage.

Also, we don’t recommend putting your leather sneakers in the washing machine or dryer. The whole process can cause your shoes to curl, crack the leather, and sometimes cause the colors to run.

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