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Spotless Shine: How to Clean Leather Shoes Like a Pro

November 29, 2023
Shoe Care
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Clean Leather Boots with brush and cloth on wood floor.

Wondering how to clean leather shoes? Caring for your leather boots and shoes is more than just a chore; it’s an art that can extend the life of some of the most prized items in your wardrobe. If you’re a man with larger-sized feet, finding the perfect pair can be a challenge, so it’s essential to maintain them well to ensure they last. Whether you’re stepping out in white leather sneakers or making an impression with classic black dress shoes, knowing how to clean leather footwear properly guarantees that your investment remains timeless and stylish.

Know Your Leather: A Guide to Different Types and
Their Care Needs

Different leather types need different care tactics. Here's a simple, step-by-step guide to help you understand and maintain your leather shoes, including exclusive tips for those unique white leather pairs:

Leather Types and How to Treat Them

  • Full Grain Leather: This type is high-quality, durable, and rather water-resistant. Avoid over-saturating it with water when cleaning.
  • Suede: Delicate and with a napped finish, suede requires a special soft brush to remove dirt without damage.
  • Nubuck: Similar to suede, but more durable, nubuck also requires gentle brushing; use a nubuck block for tough spots.

General Cleaning Process

  1. Gather Your Tools:
    • Soft cloth or brush
    • Leather cleaner appropriate for your shoe type
    • A small amount of water
  2. Spot Cleaning:
    • Dab a bit of cleaner onto the cloth or brush
    • Lightly work into spots and dirt patches
    • Use a circular motion for a thorough clean
  3. Cleaning White Leather Shoes:
    • Use a leather cleaner specifically designed for white leather
    • Apply it carefully to avoid streaks or discoloration
    • Always test a small, hidden area first

Pro-Tips: How to Clean White Leather Shoes

  • Be even more gentle than usual to avoid scuffs.
  • Regular maintenance is key to keeping white shoes looking bright.
  • A white leather-specific conditioner can help maintain their vibrancy.


Cleaning your leather shoes properly doesn’t just keep them looking good; it’s vital for preserving the material and ensuring comfort, especially if you have bigger feet where fit and condition are crucial. 

Pre-Cleaning Rituals: Setting the Stage for Spotless Shoes

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of leather shoe cleaning, it's essential to prepare your shoes. Proper pre-cleaning rituals ensure your boots and shoes are ready to be cleaned effectively and help keep them looking great:

  • Remove Excess Dirt: First, knock off any loose dirt or debris by gently tapping the shoes together. Use a soft brush to sweep away remaining surface dirt.
  • Take Out Laces: If your leather shoes have laces, remove them to avoid water damage and ensure you can clean every nook and cranny.
  • Wipe with a Damp Cloth: Gently wipe the surface with a damp cloth. This helps remove any remaining dust and prepares the leather for a deeper clean.

 
After-Care Tips:

  • Air-Dry Properly: After cleaning, let your shoes air dry away from direct heat or sunlight, which can warp the leather.
  • Conditioning is Key: Once dry, use a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple. This step is essential, especially for Big Shoes' larger-sized offerings which require careful maintenance to retain their perfect fit.
  • Polishing for Extra Shine: For a spotless finish, apply some polish with a soft cloth in circular motions and buff to a shine, especially on dress shoes.


Handle your leather treasures gently. Avoid soaking them in water and harsh cleaning methods. Remember, a little love goes a long way to keep your shoes in top condition.

Leather Boot Specifics: Caring for Cowboy and Work Boots

Special boot types like cowboy and work boots, often provided by Big Shoes in larger sizes, require targeted care. Here’s how to clean leather cowboy boots and how to clean leather work boots.. 

  • Cowboy Boots: Use specialized leather cleaners for cowboy boots to keep them pristine.
  • Work Boots: Clean more frequently due to exposure to rough conditions, and make waterproofing treatments a part of your routine to prevent damage from moisture and stains.


Remember, each style has its own needs to maintain their shape and durability, especially in larger sizes. Whether stepping out in refined dress boots or getting down to business in rugged work boots, adhere to these guidelines for optimal care.

The Don’ts of Leather Cleaning: Avoiding Common Slip-Ups

When it comes to how to clean leather boots and shoes, knowing what not to do is just as crucial as the cleaning itself. Here’s a list of common mistakes to steer clear of:

  • Using Harsh Chemicals: Avoid household cleaners that are not designed for leather as they can dry out and crack the surface. With leather cowboy boots or dress shoes in your collection, the right leather cleaner is key.
  • Soaking in Water: Leather and excess water don't mix. Dab spills and don't submerge your boots or shoes while cleaning. How to care for leather boots includes keeping them away from puddles and rain when possible.
  • Direct Heat: After cleaning, leaving your shoes to dry in front of a heater or in direct sunlight can cause them to warp. Air-dry them in a well-ventilated space away from heat sources.
  • Rushing The Process: Leather care takes time. Be patient when cleaning and conditioning. Allow the product to penetrate the leather, especially for larger sized footwear to maintain their shape and comfort.


Remember, proper maintenance keeps your shoes in top-notch condition for the long haul, making the investment in good cleaning practices worthwhile.

Beyond Cleaning: Tips for Long-Lasting Leather Footwear

Taking care of leather shoes extends beyond the occasional clean. Here's how to keep them in mint condition:

  • Using Shoe Trees: For larger sizes, shoe trees can be vital to keep the shape right and ward off moisture.
  • Mild Weather Wearing: Avoid harsh weather conditions and consider weather protectants for unexpected rain.
  • The Right Fit: To prevent overstretching, ensure you're wearing the correct size socks and inserts. Big Shoes offers options tailored for larger feet.
  • Shoe Rotation: Let your shoes rest between uses, particularly if you wear leather work boots often.


Being proactive with your leather shoe care will ensure they remain comfortable and durable over time, in line with Big Shoes' promise of style and longevity.

By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can keep your leather shoes in great shape. When you're ready for a new pair, remember that Big Shoes has a wide selection of sizes 14-21 leather shoes, cowboy boots, and work boots, providing you with footwear that is on-trend and made to last.
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