We’ve done a lot of guides on cleaning and polishing leather shoes, so this week we’d like to explain why. If treated properly, high-quality leather can last a lifetime. To maximize your investment on your footwear, you should take proper care of it.
Leather is made from animal hide, which means it was once part of a living organism (sorry to remind you). When hides are made into leather, they are treated to remove anything that can decay. However, in order to ensure that your leather does not begin to decay again, it needs to be taken care of and conditioned regularly. Improper care or negligence can result in dry, cracked leather or damage to the color and finish.
Wet and Dry Cycles
After being cured and tanned, leather can only retain a certain amount of moisture. Leather hide gets its strength from criss-crossed fibers, but if they aren’t treated properly, these fibers will dry out and crack, causing shoes to lose their shape and warp. This is why we recommend conditioning your shoes.
This is also why you should never expose your shoes to direct or extreme heat. Don’t leave them near the radiator and never put them in the dryer. To dry waterlogged shoes, remove them from your feet ASAP and also remove the insoles. Tip them on their side and stuff shoes with newspaper, paper towels, or white cotton towels to absorb moisture and once dry, polish or condition as usual. Leave them in a ventilated area and let them air dry at room temperature.
In the same way that shoes shouldn’t be dried too quickly, they should not take in moisture too quickly, either. This can cause them to be water-damaged. Find out more about water damage and how to Waterproof Your Shoes here.
Avoid Salt and Other Chemicals
Especially in the winter months, you should take care to avoid road salt and other chemicals, which can discolor and weaken the shoe’s finish. Using a shoe care product may be the difference between a quick cleaning and a permanently damaged shoe. Be sure to clean the shoe with more than just water as soon as possible to reduce the chance of salt or chemical damage.
Avoid Odor and Living Things
You deal with rainy and icy weather. Your feet sweat. You wear your shoes over and over… this creates a warm, moist environment where other things like to grow. Use baking soda or other odor removing products, rotate your shoes, and slip in a pair of cedar shoe trees when not in use.
We’d love to hear any tips that you have to share with us or answer any questions you might have!