Dress & Grooming, Shoes, Visual Guides

Shoe Care 101: An Illustrated Guide

Shine your shoes after you buy them and before you wear them. Shine them regularly for as long as you own them.  When you remove your shoes, insert a cedar shoe tree to draw out inner moisture and reshape the leather.  Remove a salt stain as quickly as possible by lightly applying a mixture of 2/3 water, 1/3 vinegar with a rag, wiping off with clean damp rag, and drying with a towel.  Waterproof your shoes with mink oil (may darken the color of the leather), a wax-based polish (light protection) or a specialty waterproofing compound (heavier protection).  Clean your shoes regularly to remove dirt, stains, and layers of built-up polish. Use a specialty leather cleaner, saddle soap, Murphy’s Oil Soap, or Ivory soap and avoid products that contain detergents or acids.  To keep your shoes from drying out, every few months apply a specialty moisturizing conditioner or buff in a dab of petroleum jelly.  If your shoes are wet, stuff them with newspaper or a small towel to draw out the moisture. Replace the paper/towels periodically as they get saturated. Never place your shoes near a heat source; this can dry out and crack the leather.  Remove scuff marks by rubbing the scuff with non-gel toothpaste. Rinse, wipe, and let dry.  When your shoes become really worn out, send them back to the manufacturer for refurbishing or resoling instead of buying a new pair.

**Please Note: The toothpaste trick does not work on every kind of shoe. Be sure to test the toothpaste on a small spot on the shoe to ensure compatibility with your particular leather.**

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

This illustrated guide is brought to you by Johnston and Murphy.

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