Last week, in preparation for the release of shoe care
products on our site (coming soon!) we shared our best shoe cleaning tips in Part 1 of our Shoe Care Basics series. In Part 2, we'll be covering some of the
more advanced shoe care techniques, such as shining and polishing,
waterproofing, fighting stains, and keeping odors at bay. If you're ready to be
a shoe care expert, read on!
HOW TO SHINE AND POLISH LEATHER SHOES
First, assemble your tools and supplies: A soft cloth and/or
a polishing brush, a horsehair shoe brush, and a tin of polish that matches
your shoes (cream polish for color and conditioning, wax polish for shine and
some water resistance) are the necessities. It's also a good idea to spread a
towel or some newspapers under the area where you'll be working to avoid
staining the carpet with a daub of shoe polish. You'll want to give your shoes
a good cleaning before you start (as described in Part 1) and make sure they're
dry before you continue. Don't put the laces back in just yet. Then, follow
these steps for the perfect polish and shine:
1. Using your soft cloth or polishing brush, apply a small
amount of polish to the shoe. Rub in small circles, using only a little bit of
polish at a time. You don't want to overdo it, and you can always add more as
you go. Keep in mind that it's better to apply multiple thin layers of polish
than one thick layer, so keep it light. Apply the polish evenly, giving the
heel and toe special attention, as they tend to suffer the most wear.
2. Once you've polished the entire shoe, allow it to dry
completely, which typically takes at least 15 minutes. If you feel it needs a
second coat at that point, go ahead.
3. When you're finished applying polish and it's totally
dry, take up your horsehair brush and try to remove any excess polish using
short strokes. This also helps work the polish into the leather, so don't worry
that you're brushing too hard. Make sure to brush the entire polished surface
4. Lastly, you'll want to buff the leather with a fresh,
soft cloth or chamois, using smooth, side-to-side strokes to get the best
That's it! Shoe shining is a quick and simple process, but
it's something that few of us do often enough. Along with cleaning and
conditioning, polishing will keep your shoes looking great for years to come!
It's not just men's dress shoes that need a good shine and polish. All leather shoes, like the Dansko Marta women's sandal pictured here, can benefit from a regular care routine.
HOW TO WATERPROOF YOUR SHOES
The first thing that's important to note is that
"waterproofing" your shoes doesn't mean you can stand in a puddle and
expect your feet to stay dry and your shoes undamaged. What actually happens is
that the shoes become water-resistant,
which means that the material will be protected from moderate moisture
exposure, such as a walk through the rain or a drip from a drink. It's more
accurate to call it "weatherproofing," but that's not the term most
people are familiar with. Some shoes are naturally waterproof or weatherproof,
but many of these, such as the UGG New Classics, benefit from periodic
touch-ups with a water and/or stain repellent.
Like with polishing, it's best to clean your shoes and let
them dry completely before you apply a water protectant spray, and to put down
a towel or newspapers in the area where you'll be working. There are other
methods of weatherproofing your shoes, but we recommend a spray (preferably one
with a constant stream rather than a pump) because it's easy to use and widely
Below are some general instructions, but you should always
read the directions on the product you're using and trust those!
1. Shake the can well.
2. Test the water protectant for colorfastness on a small,
less noticeable area of the shoe, like the edge of the tongue. If you rub the
area and color comes off, stop use and consult a professional (such as the
knowledgeable staff at Englin's Fine Footwear) about alternative options.
3. Hold the can or bottle upright and keep it about 6" from the
shoe's surface. Apply a thin, even coat of protectant using a careful sweeping
motion. Just like with polish, it's better to apply multiple light layers than
one thick coat, so allow the product to dry on the shoe before spraying on
Here, the Sheepskin Protector from the UGG Care Kit is being applied to the UGG Classic Short II in Chestnut.
4. Reapply regularly as directed. Usually, you'll want to
touch up your waterproofing either when it has noticeably ceased repelling
water, when you clean your shoes, or every six months, whichever comes first.
Many water repellent products also offer some protection from
stains, so it's a great way to keep your shoes looking their best. Some
products may slightly darken leather or suede, but are formulated to not damage
it. Waterproofing/weatherproofing your shoes takes just a few minutes, but it
can really extend the life of your shoes, so it's a habit we recommend to most
of our customers.
HOW TO REMOVE STUBBORN STAINS
So you've followed the cleaning recommendations in Shoe Care
Basics, Part 1, but you've got a stain that just won't come out. What now?
First off, keep in mind that if you use a water and stain protectant, you're
less likely to encounter this problem in the first place.
If conventional shoe cleaning products don't get the job
done, there are many DIY options that shoe enthusiasts swear by, including dish
soap, baking soda, cornstarch for grease or oil, nail polish remover for ink,
and toothpaste for scuffs. As always, be very careful when using any products
that aren't specifically made for use on shoes, and test it on a small,
inconspicuous area first if possible. If you need advice about a specific kind
of stain, give us a call or stop by your nearest Englin's location and we'll do
our best to advise you!
PREVENTING AND REMOVING ODORS
If you've ever gotten a whiff of your own shoes and spent the
day in mortal embarrassment, you're not alone. If foot odor is an issue for you
or you've noticed that your feet are unusually sweaty, a trip to your
podiatrist might be the best first step so that you can zero in on any underlying
issues. But even if you have the healthiest, best-smelling feet around, most shoes will get
funky after a while if worn constantly and not regularly cleaned. That's why
it's important to rotate your shoes, giving them a chance to dry and air out
Powders and sprays that are specially formulated for
removing odors from your shoes should be your first line of defense against
unpleasant smells, but DIY solutions include:
- Spread a spoonful of baking soda in your shoes and leave them overnight. Pour out the
baking soda in the morning. Alternatively, do the same with deodorizing kitty litter or talcum powder.
- A variety of natural solutions can also be
effective against shoe odor. Place sage
leaves, lavender sprigs, or fresh citrus peels (lemon, orange,
grapefruit) in your shoes and leave them overnight, preferably next to an open
window or on a porch or balcony in the fresh air. A few drops of tea tree oil on the insoles of your
shoes can also do the trick.
- Swab the insoles of your shoes lightly with rubbing alcohol to neutralize bacteria.
MORE QUICK SHOE CARE TIPS
- The easiest way to clean your nylon or polyester shoelaces is to remove them from the
shoes, put them in a laundry delicates bag, and run them through the washer
with a bit of detergent. Hang them to dry; don't put them in the dryer. Scrub
tough stains with some dish soap and a toothbrush. For white laces, you can use
a bit of diluted bleach to bring them back to their natural brightness.
leather laces the same way you would clean the leather of your shoe's
upper: carefully, with leather cleaner. Remove them from the shoes and use a
toothbrush or soft shoe brush for scrubbing. You can even condition them! Then
allow them to dry completely before use.
leave soaked shoes unattended. If you and your good shoes get caught in a
sudden downpour, it's not the end of the world, but don't just kick them off
and forget about them when you get home. Brush off any mud or debris, stuff
them with newspaper or small towels, and leave them in a well-ventilated area.
As always, avoid using a heater or direct sunlight to dry them out.
- When in doubt, consult a professional. Give us a call or stop by your local
Englin's if you have questions about the best way to take care of your shoes.
We're more than happy to help! Some of our brands also offer recrafting services for their shoes. If your shoes need a new sole, new heel, refinished upper, or some general TLC, who better to serve you than the original shoemaker? You can contact the brand directly or give us a call at Englin's to find out your refurbishing options.
Now that you know how to clean, polish, and waterproof, you can take expert care of your shoes and keep them looking and feeling (not to mention smelling) their best! Stay tuned for more shoe-related knowledge in the coming weeks,
including how to choose the proper fit for your foot (spoiler alert: you
probably shouldn't be wearing the same size in every brand!) and much more.