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How to Clean Leather Shoes

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Keeping your leather shoes clean, conditioned and polished should be at the forefront of everything a gentleman does. Here’s how to clean leather shoes with confidence.

As we previously covered, extending the life of your shoes is relatively simple if you show them a bit of TLC.

Whether it’s adding in steel heel protectors to reduce the wear of the soles of your shoes or simply hanging them up on a shoe tree to keep them in shape for longer – there are many ways to keep them in top condition.

However, one area we haven’t covered is how to clean leather shoes. The technique you use is particularly important when it comes to treating the leather on a pair of men’s Oxford shoes.

Step one

Firstly, make sure that you remove the shoelaces as a good polish and shine may damage them. And we all know how important a quality pair of shoelaces are.

Step two

Before you apply any special creams or polish, you should always remove the dirt and grime off your men’s Oxford shoes first.

This process is integral and will help keep them in tip-top condition.

There are a number of ways you can do this. For instance, you can use a horsehair brush to buff and clean, apply soap and water with a cloth or sponge, or for a slightly unique alternative, apply nail polish remover!

The latter is extremely useful if you’ve applied polish numerous times and you need to remove it before cleaning the shoes and putting more on.

Water and white vinegar is another lesser-known technique you can use as well. The ratio should be two parts water and one part vinegar. This combination helps to remove tough stains and salts often picked up during heavier cases of rain and snow.

Step three

Once the shoes are dry from their clean, it’s time to apply saddle soap, leather conditioner or oil renovator to clean, condition and protect the leather. This will help preserve your shoes over a longer period of time.

You should apply one of these formulas with a damp cloth and wipe it in using a circular motion.

Step four

Next, apply a quality cream-based polish using a brush. This will help rejuvenate the colour of your men’s Oxford shoes.

If you can’t find the exact colour of cream to match your shoes, play it safe and choose a neutral cream polish as this won’t add colour pigment to the leather. This option is also more practical if you have various different colours of leather shoes to clean.

Step five

Now it’s time to add the polish. For best results, opt for bee’s wax with turpentine polish as this provides the best lustre.

You should apply this one or two times using a soft cloth or an old t-shirt.

After, buff it with the horse brush and leave them to stand for twenty minutes.

Step six

Almost there! Your penultimate step is to lightly dab water on the shoe and buff using a dry cloth. Repeat this three times, allowing twenty minutes between each stage.

Step seven

Finally, use another dry cloth or t-shirt to give your men’s Oxford shoes a good final buff. As a result, you’ll be left with an incredible mirror shine.

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