in: Featured, Shoes, Style, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 10, 2021

Shoe Care 101: An Illustrated Guide

Shining shoes and care illustration.

**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

1. Shine your shoes after you buy them and before you wear them. Shine them regularly for as long as you own them.

2. When you remove your shoes, insert a cedar shoe tree to draw out inner moisture and reshape the leather.

3. 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.

4. 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).

5. 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.

6. To keep your shoes from drying out, every few months apply a specialty moisturizing conditioner or buff in a dab of petroleum jelly.

7. If your shoes are wet, stuff them wih newspaper or 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.

8. Remove scuff marks by rubbing the scuff with non-gel toothpaste. Rinse, wipe, and let dry.

9. When your shoes become really worn out, send them back to the manufacturer for refurbishing or resoling instead of buying a new pair.

Like this illustrated guide? Then you’re going to love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness! Pick up a copy on Amazon.

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

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