How to Naturally Clean Leather Shoes

August 24, 2022

natural leather shoes


The value of a pair of high-quality leather shoes can not be underestimated. But after all the wear and tear from weather conditions, scratches, and everyday use - cleaning your leather shoes is a necessity. 

Shining up your leather shoes might seem like a chore, but it doesn't have to be!  With some supplies you probably already have at home, making worn leather shoes look shiny and new again can be simple! 

Whether you own boots, pumps, or loafers, here's how to clean natural leather shoes with simple DIY solutions.


How to Clean Natural Leather Shoes 

To learn how to properly and naturally clean leather shoes, clothing, or accessories, you’ll first need to know if you’re dealing with finished or unfinished leather. It’s important to note that 100% unfinished leather is rare. The level of finishing will determine what method should be used when cleaning your shoes.


More heavily treated items can withstand more water than unfinished pieces, which may make them easier to clean, but all types of washed-leather items will require some care. 


Read the care tag on the back to find out if your shoes are made of unfinished or finished leather. Once you have determined this, it will be easier to decide on the proper care for your shoes. If your shoes have laces, it's best to remove them for easier cleaning.


How to Clean Leather Shoes (Unfinished and Finished)

Because of its delicate material, it's best not to soak leather in water. Spot cleaning is the best way to eliminate all the grime and stains. You will need to use a specific cleaning method depending on its finish. Here are the best ways how to naturally clean leather shoes. 


Cleaning Finished Leather Goods

  1. Finished leather is effortless to spot clean. Start by brushing off any caked-on dirt with a stiff-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works well).
  2. Use a dry cloth to wipe your leather, removing any surface grease and grime.
  3. Apply water and mild laundry detergent to a cloth or into a spray bottle.
  4. Use gentle strokes to clean all parts of the leather that are still dirty. Salt stains can be eliminated easily with vinegar instead of water.


Cleaning Unfinished Leather Goods

  1. For unfinished leather, start as if you were cleaning finished leather - use a brush and a cloth to remove any surface dirt.
  2. Instead of using water and detergent, gently massage saddle soap into the leather. Saddle soap contains a mix of oils and waxes that are safe for un-polished leather. 
  3. Make sure to wipe off all excess when done. After spot cleaning, leave shoes to air dry.


How to Remove Different Types of Leather Stains

There are numerous reasons your leather shoes can become stained, from water, salt to grease. Here are some of the best ways how to clean natural leather shoes. 


Removing Water Stains from Leather

There are two different methods for removing water stains from shoes.


Method #1

If the stain is older, tougher, and the leather is more durable, grab a cleaning cloth and dampen it thoroughly with white vinegar, then gently rub the stained area. Use a cloth damped with the vinegar or lemon solution.


Method #2

Use plain water mixed with either dish soap or rubbing alcohol to extract ink and deal with any remaining stains. You can do this by using a piece of cloth and gently scrubbing the stain until it’s gone.


Removing Salt Stains from Leather

Salt stains usually occur when you’re out and about in the snow. However, getting rid of these stains is simple. You can use two parts water and one part vinegar to spot clean salt stains. Soak up as much of the stain with water and wipe well with vinegar using a piece of cloth. Dish soap can also work well to get rid of the salt stain. 

Note: Avoid using water to clean the stain for boots made of sheepskin. Instead, use white vinegar and delicately rub at the stain with a clean cloth. 


Grease Stain Removal for Leather

You can easily eliminate grease stains with baking soda you keep at home. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto any grease stains, rubbing in thoroughly. Let it absorb overnight for the best results. In the morning, wipe off the excess baking soda with a clean cloth.


Scuff Removal for Leather

No matter how small they may seem, scuff marks never seem to go away easily. If your scuff marks are difficult to remove, here's a simple cleaning trick: apply a small amount of toothpaste from your toothbrush onto the scuff. Then, rub the toothpaste in, applying pressure until all traces of dirt are gone.


While leather shoes are built to stand the test of time, it's essential to look after them. With these simple DIY cleaning tips and tricks, you can maximize the longevity of your leather shoes and wear them for years to come. 


Origo is committed to creating high-quality, eco-friendly shoes that offer comfort and style. We strive to provide sustainable footwear that promotes healthy feet, all while taking steps to reduce our environmental impact. Looking for a new pair of men's and women's leather shoes? Visit Origo Shoes to find your one true pair of leather shoes.

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