Soft leather is one of the most durable, flexible and comfortable materials used for a shoe. However, to make it last, you also have to give it proper care and maintenance. One way to do so is to clean it regularly so you can preserve it for many years.
By learning how to clean soft leather shoes the right way, you no longer need to worry about damaging their soft and pleasant texture in the process. Note that the material is prone to stains, scratches, and dirt, so you have to do something to increase its lifespan.
What Do You Need to Follow this Tutorial?
- Newspaper or tarp
- Warm water and laundry detergent
- Brush or soft cloth
- Leather cleaner, saddle soap or mild dishwashing detergent
- Damp cloth
- Leather conditioner or a mixture of linseed oil and vinegar
- Cornstarch or baking soda
- White vinegar
- Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover
- Beeswax, creams, and oils that you can buy from a local department store or cobbler
Step 1 – Prepare Your Cleaning Area
In this step, you need a newspaper or tarp to cover the table or floor where you intend to do the cleaning process. Such materials can help protect the area from getting stained from shoe polish or other cleaning solutions you use.
If there are still other unused newspapers, crumple them up. Stuff your shoes with them, particularly the toe area. Doing this is a huge help in holding the shoe’s shape while you’re doing the cleaning process.
Step 2 – Remove The Laces
You need to remove them as they might block some parts of your shoes. Without them, you can work on your soft leather shoe freely, thereby allowing you to reach and clean up all parts and surfaces.
If the laces are dirty, too, then it would be wise to clean them up too. Just wash them in your washing machine, or in a container filled with a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent.
This is also the right time to get rid of any dirt or grime that get stuck into the leather surfaces of your shoes. A brush or soft cloth can help you clean them up.
Step 3 – Use Soap
If you have an unfinished soft leather shoe, then you can use a leather cleaner or a saddle soap to clean it up. However, if the leather used in your shoe is finished, then it would be best to go for a mild dishwashing detergent.
Let the soap lather on your shoes with the help of a damp cloth or paper towel. Avoid using excessive amounts of water, though. It should be just enough to work on the soap or detergent. Wipe it off.
Get another soft and slightly damp cloth so you can get rid of any excess soap from it. Such will prepare the shoe for conditioning and drying.
Step 4 – It’s Time To Condition The Soft Leather Material
The next step is to use a leather conditioner to condition your shoes. The good thing about this leather conditioner is that it offers protection against stains. Aside from that, it adds moisture and shine, as well as a waterproofing feature into your shoes.
While there are commercial leather conditioners that you can buy, it is also possible for you to create a DIY solution. All you have to do is to mix together one part vinegar and two parts linseed oil.
Once you have your commercial or DIY leather conditioner around, you can apply it to your shoes. Leave it for around fifteen minutes. Make sure that the shoe is still damp from cleaning when you do the application. Once the fifteen minutes are up, use a soft cloth to buff the material until it shines.
Step 5 – Allow It To Dry
This step is one of the most vital steps on how to clean soft leather shoes. Dry your shoes naturally by exposing it to the open air. Make sure that you do not expose it too much to direct sunlight and another source of heat. Note that such might damage the leather, causing it to crack or fade.
Step 6 – Research About Other Cleaning Solutions
Take note that aside from the steps mentioned in this article, you can still find other useful techniques to clean up your soft leather shoes and preserve their excellent condition. Here are some other tips and tricks:
1. Use Cornstarch or Baking Soda – Any of the two is a huge help in removing oil or grease from your soft leather shoes. Just rub cornstarch or baking soda into the material using a damp cloth
Let it stay there overnight or for just a few hours. The two work in absorbing grease and oil. Once done, you can use a soft cloth to wipe off the applied powder.
2. White Vinegar – You can also seek the aid of white vinegar to clean stubborn stains, food stains, and road-salt lines from your leather shoes. Just pour a small amount of the vinegar into a clean cloth. Use it to wipe any affected surface of your shoes.
3. Rubbing Alcohol or Nail Polish Remover – Both of these solutions work in getting rid of ink stains. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol or the nail polish remover. Blot it lightly over the stains. Once done, you can wipe it off with a damp cloth.
If you want to condition and waterproof your soft leather, then beeswax, creams, and oils that you can gently rub into your shoes using soft and dry cloth can help. Just buy these products from your local department store or cobbler, and you’ll have things to use to preserve your shoes.
How to clean soft leather shoes does not have to be alarming. Armed with the right information, you can do it correctly without the risk of damaging its soft and delicate material.