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Caring for Leather Shoes - Cleaning and Conditioning

Important First Steps to a Proper Shoe Shine

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Cleaning Smooth Leather Shoes

Remove dirt by cleaning with a leather cleaner made specifically for smooth leathers. You can use saddle soap or a smooth leather shoe cleaner.

Shoe cleaners come in gels, foams, sprays, liquids and creams. Many leather cleaners come with an applicator top, or you can use a soft shoe brush to aid in removing dirt from the surface of the shoe. This will also help to remove dirt from any cracks in the shoes.

After cleaning, let the shoes dry for a few minutes and begin shining the shoes with a soft cotton cloth - either a shoe shine cloth, or even an old t-shirt, as long as it's soft and made of cotton.

Conditioning Leather Shoes

Conditioning your leather shoes will help soften and moisturize the leather, and protect it from drying out and cracking. Certain types of leather, and shoes worn in dryer climates might need to be conditioned more often.

Some shoe cleaning products will clean and condition your shoes, but if you want your shoes to get the full treatment, or used a product specifically for cleaning, the next step is to condition your smooth leather shoes.

Of course, you'll want a conditioner made for the specific type of shoe you're working on. Also, look for a natural conditioner that is absorbed into the material of the shoe, as opposed to a synthetic conditioner that sits on top of the surface.

Rub small amounts of conditioner into the shoe, until the entire shoe has been covered with conditioner. After a couple of minutes, wipe any remaining conditioner off of the shoes, as the leather will only absorb what it can.

Next Step: Polishing Your Shoes and Shoe Polish Warnings & Alternatives
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