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How to Prolong The Life of Your Leather Shoes Like a Professional

Men and Their Shoes

There is always so much discussion about women and their love for shoes, sometimes we forget just how much men love their shoes as well.

The difference is women spend more on quantity, whereas men buy fewer shoes and tend to invest in high quality ones (that are usually also accompanied by a high price tag).


The Key Word Is 'Investment'

Men consider buying a good pair of leather shoes a very valuable transaction, and just as important, is the after-purchase care to try and keep them in the best shape for the longest time possible.

Think about the whole concept of shoe shining, a very male-associated activity, that helps keep their shoes looking nice and shiny.


There's a whole array of products out there to protect men's leather shoes and help prolong their life: rain and stain repellents, leather lotion, polish, and special brushes. We know it may be confusing because there's a lot to know, so we gathered some tips from professionals in the field themselves and other tips we gathered from researching online.

Great, so where do you start?


Start With the Basics

1 // Store Your Leather Shoes Correctly

After buying a leather masterpiece, do not ruin it by storing it haphazardly.

Use a shoe tree like the one below. It preserves the shape of your shoes when not in use. Good quality ones also help to infuse a pleasant aroma into your shoes and absorb moisture.

Shoe tree

Store your leather shoes in a cloth bag to avoid dust, and then a waterproof box, and away from light. Light degrades a leather's color, and humidity darkens it. A combination of both is disastrous to the polish and the leather's quality.


Do not stack shoes on top of each other, naturally. Store them flat and horizontal. You don't want permanent marks on their tips, back or sides.


2 // Protect Your Shoes From Weather Conditions


Make them water-resistant but know that you cannot make leather shoes totally waterproof by spraying a water-resistant spray on them. It is pure marketing nonsense. You can however, make your leather shoes resistant to light rain.

Maintain good shine that protects your leather shoes in mild winter days by using special wax or spray products. Ask your favorite shoe brand store and they should give you instructions. 

3 // Get The Right Polishing Tools


Choose a type of polish: There are different types of shoe polish including wax, cream or liquid. Wax and cream are heavier and will be absorbed by the leather and protect the shoes from water damage. Liquid polishes are good for a quick and easy shine. If you're not sure what type best suits your shoe, make sure to ask a salesperson before you buy it.

Choose a polishing brush or cloth:Most people just use an old cotton t-shirt or other soft cloth. You can alternatively get specific polishing brushes with stiff, short hair fibers. These brushes are found in most shoe polishing kits, of which you may want to invest in.

A horsehair brush is essential to properly polish your shoes. It has longer, softer bristles than the polishing brush described above. It is used to brush excess polish from the shoes.

A soft, fuzz-free cloth ideally made of chamois, is a type of soft leather that is meant to add a shiny finish to your polished shoes. You can also use any soft cloth, such as an old cotton t-shirt.

It is also common to use an old toothbrush or q-tips to work the polish into hard-to-reach areas.

The Polishing Process in 5 Steps


Step 1: Prevention Take the time to cover your work area with an old cloth or newspapers in order to prevent polish stains on your floor. Better safe than sorry.

Step 2: Start On a Clean Surface Before smearing polish all over, make sure your shoes are clean of dust and debris. Use a shoeshine brush or a wet cloth to carefully clean away the dust and dirt. You can use an old toothbrush, just be careful not to scratch the leather.

Step 3: Polish Time Once your shoes are clean and dry, apply a sufficient amount of polish with your shoe polish brush (or an old cotton cloth).

Spread the polish evenly over the shoe surface in a circular motion to help the leather absorb the polish. For hard-to-reach areas, use a cotton swab or toothbrush.

Wait 30 minutes for the polish to dry and get soaked into the leather. You may repeat this step if needed. Remember, it is better to do multiple light layers than to apply one thick layer.

Step 4: Care For the Details Once your shoe is completely dry, use the shoeshine brush to meticulously wipe off any extra polish. Again, use a clean cotton swab or toothbrush for those hard-to-reach spots. Skipping this step might leave an uneven color effect, which is hard to repair.

Step 5: The Finishing Touch Even though every step of the process is vital, everything will be useless if you don't do careful finishing. Use a clean, frizz-free shine cloth or a chamois leather piece, add a couple drops of water, and smear to give your shoes the shine they deserve.

See? That's all there is to it.


Do you make time to polish your own shoes? Share with us your personal tips in the comments section.


Article written by

A team of writers constantly on the hunt for everything and anything there is to know about local fashion.