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How to care for leather shoes?

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    How to care for leather shoes?

    I ordered and received the Sebago Drysides a month or two ago. It's now mid December, the weather is quite dry (up in New Jersey) and I'm getting pretty concerned for the status of my Drysides! What do I do to ensure they last a long time? I was thinking about bringing them to a cobbler or something who could then just do the upkeep for me but I'd like to know myself what to do. Thank you for your help!


    I'd start at



      Ha, wow thank you very kindly for that. With regards to washing with soap and water though, won't that cause the insides to also get wet and thus smell even after drying?



        Not if you're using clean water. =)

        A friend of mine bought some leather motorcycle boots that called for soaking them, while wearing them, in water and walking around with wet boots for a day. He said that was many years ago and still considers them to be the most comfortable, most broken in, most molded-to-his-foot boot he's ever owned. Makes sense! Sorta like Shrink-to-Fit Levi's or getting your ski boots heat-molded to your foot.



          If they're leather start with this:

          If they're suede you need a suede eraser and you can even use water on that.






              I would be wary of wetting leather. Yes, you can do it, but if you don't let the leather dry thoroughly enough, it may rot, and if you dry it TOO much, it can become brittle and crack.

              For a casual shoe or boot, I wouldn't necessarily bother too much with polish. Polish makes shoes look nice but does not moisturize the leather or protect them from water.

              Things you should definitely own: Saddle soap, conditioner/waterproof (this can be anything from mink oil to a synthetic moisturizer), shoe brushes, rags.

              First of all, give the shoes a good thorough cleaning, following the instructions with your saddle soap. Let them dry thoroughly, then apply the moisturizer of choice. This will not only keep the leather supple and flexible, but it will protect it from moisture. I would do that a couple times a season or as needed. After wearing your shoes, be sure to give them a quick brush-off, or wipe them down with a damp cloth, especially if you've been walking through salted roads.




                Agree with everything that's been said so far, especially BenRs comment abbout wiping off salt and debris regularly. You don't need a cobbler for this type of shoe care, just some saddle soap and a conditioner (mink oil, Lexol, etc). Thanks to JC's recommendation in another post, I've used Lexol Neatsfoot with success:


                In my experience even the Neatsfoot darkens the leather some, especially if the leather was dry before. Keep in mind leather = skin so try to only use products/treatments that you would put on your own skin (excluding polishes and waxes I guess - they don't breathe).

                So, in that vein, regarding water: I respect BenR's comment as he probably has more experience than me with rot and cracking. I've had some adventures in shoe stretching vintage shoes (probably should do a separate thread for this) and I suppose I've been lucky with avoiding water damage. I find leather to be relatively resilient, and I've gone as far as filling leather shoes with warm water, and wetting the entire outside of the shoes (with the polish removed so it takes on as much water as possible). I'll then pour out/ wipe off extra water and insert my shoe stretcher and wait for them to dry (8-24 hrs). I've done this on a few pairs now without issues.

                My Measurements: 6' 1" height, 35" sleeves, 41-42" chest/jacket, 35" waist, 34" inseam, 11.5D/EEE shoes, 200 lbs



                  In my experience saddle soap is pretty harsh stuff and can strip the leather of A LOT of moisture. I would only use saddle soap if your shoes are EXTREMELY dirty.



                    I've used saddle soap with decent results in the past. Perhaps ivory or dove would be more gentle. At any rate, use very little water. It shouldn't be soaking through or anything.



                      Allen Edmonds has some nice videos on shoe care. You don't need to necessarily use their products, but the steps are still the same.

                      With all the salt on the streets in Chicago when the snow comes, I usually wipe with a damp cloth at the end of the day to get rid of the salt residue/mud off the shoe before wiping with a dry cloth and stick in the trees. I brush the leather weekly and wash with saddle soap/condition with leather conditioner monthly until spring.

                      Don't directly wet the leather, moisten a cloth instead. If it gets moist inside the shoe, don't put it near a heater to dry it faster. Just stick in some cedar trees and a silica pack and leave at room temperature for a couple of days.






                          Be careful with Lexol conditioner if your concerned about darkening your shoes. I use Lexol's leather cleaner on my boots and boat shoes, then coat them really well in mink oil.

                          I bought Allen Edmonds conditioner for the pair of AE shoes I have. Seems to work well without altering the color. I'm sure there are other conditioners that work just as well.

                          Anybody ever try Chamberlains Leather Milk? It's sold by Saddleback Leather.



                            Venetian shoe cream. Done. 32 oz tin for 15.

                            AHD on VSC.