How to clean leather shoes

Many people are concerned about the question How to properly clean leather shoes at home?. Leather shoes are a high-quality product that, with proper care, will serve the owner for more than one year.

How to clean leather shoes
Dominika Roseclay

Leather shoes are a versatile and stylish choice of footwear, whether you prefer boots or sneakers. However, over time, they can start to look worn and lose their luster. To keep your leather shoes looking their best and ensure their longevity, it’s essential to know how to clean, polish, and protect them properly. In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process to maintain your leather shoes in pristine condition.

Leather shoes are known for their durability and timeless appeal. However, without proper care, they can become dull and susceptible to damage. By following the right cleaning and maintenance routine, you can protect your investment and keep your leather shoes looking their best for years to come.

Gather the Necessary Items

Before you begin cleaning your leather shoes, gather the following items:

  • A shoe cleaning brush for removing loose dirt and debris.
  • A special brush with a soft side for applying Combi Foam.
  • Combi Foam, which is effective in removing salt and water stains.
  • Shoe polish to enhance the color and shine of your shoes.
  • A shoe protector spray to safeguard against dirt and rain.
  • A soft cloth for wiping and buffing.

Note: If you have suede shoes, refer to our separate guide on cleaning suede and nubuck shoes, as they require specific attention and products.

Instructions for Cleaning Your Leather Shoes at Home

Follow these steps to clean your leather shoes effectively:

Remove the Laces from Your Shoes

Before you start cleaning, remove the laces from your shoes. This prevents them from getting wet or stained. If your laces are dirty, either wash them in the machine or replace them with a fresh pair.

Brush off Dirt and Debris

Use a cleaning shoe brush to gently remove any loose dirt, mud, or salt from the surfaces of your leather shoes. Pay attention to scuffs and scrapes while brushing to avoid causing damage. Regularly brushing off dirt after each use will make the polishing process easier.

Use Soap to Remove Tough Stains

For minor dirt and stains, you can use a cloth or a soft shoe brush dipped in water mixed with a bit of soap. Alternatively, you can use Combi Foam by shaking the can and rubbing it in small circles onto the shoe’s surface with the soft side of the special brush. Take care not to make the leather too wet. It’s better to repeat the process with less water and soap, gradually increasing the intensity if needed.

When dealing with tough stains or scuff marks, dab the affected area and gently rub with slight pressure if the stains persist.

Wipe off Soap

Once you have successfully removed the stains, use a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining soap or Combi Foam. Allow your shoes to dry completely before moving on to the polishing stage. This may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. For added convenience, you can use shoe stretchers to help maintain the shape of your leather shoes.

Use Polish and Rub Them In

Choose a clear or similarly colored shoe polish and apply it in a circular motion across the entire shoe using a clean, soft cloth. The polish serves to protect the leather, nourish it, and enhance its color. Be cautious around stitching that may be a different color. Before applying the polish, it’s advisable to test it on an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.

Shine the Shoes

Allow the polish to soak into the leather for a few minutes. Then, take a new clean, soft cloth or a buffing brush and gently shine the shoes using short, steady swipes. This step will further enhance the shine and overall appearance of your leather shoes.

Let Them Dry

After polishing, let your shoes and boots dry naturally in the open air. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a heater, as this can lead to discoloration or cracks in the leather. Patience is key during this drying process.

Spray with Protector Spray

Once your leather shoes are clean, polished, and dry, it’s essential to protect them from future damage. Use a quality shoe protector spray and spray it onto your shoes from a distance of approximately 30 cm. This treatment will make your shoes soft, supple, and waterproof. It’s advisable to repeat this process at least four times a year, especially if you reside in a rainy area. Remember, prevention is better than cure.

Additional Tips and Considerations

  • Clean your leather shoes as soon as they become soiled to prevent lasting dirt and stains.
  • Avoid using regular soap and water for tough stains or scuffs; opt for specialized products designed for leather.
  • Be mindful of the timing and give your shoes ample time to dry between each step.
  • Regularly brush off dirt and debris to maintain the integrity of the leather.
  • Store your leather shoes in a cool, dry place to avoid excessive moisture and direct sunlight.


Learning how to properly clean, polish, and protect your leather shoes is a valuable skill that will extend the lifespan of your favorite footwear. By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this article, you can maintain the beauty and durability of your leather shoes for years to come. Remember to be proactive in cleaning and protecting your shoes to prevent irreversible damage.


How often should I clean my leather shoes?

Cleaning frequency depends on how often you wear your leather shoes and the conditions in which you wear them. As a general guideline, aim to clean them every few weeks or whenever they become visibly dirty or stained.

Can I use regular soap to clean my leather shoes?

Regular soap may not be effective in removing tough stains or scuffs from leather shoes. It’s recommended to use specialized leather cleaning products or follow the instructions provided in this article.

What should I do if my leather shoes get wet?

If your leather shoes get wet, allow them to dry naturally at room temperature. Avoid using heat sources such as hairdryers, as they can damage the leather. Stuffing the shoes with newspaper can help absorb moisture and maintain their shape.

Is it necessary to use a shoe protector spray?

Using a shoe protector spray is highly recommended, as it helps repel dirt and water, keeping your leather shoes in good condition. It also adds an extra layer of protection against stains and extends their lifespan.

Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

It’s best to allow your leather shoes to dry naturally, as using a hairdryer or any other direct heat source can cause the leather to shrink, crack, or lose its shape. Patience is key when drying leather shoes.

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