Introduction: How to Revive an Old Pair of Leather Shoes

Hi, my name is Tyler Witchey.

The shoes that I wear everyday are almost four years old and I first purchased them for five dollars, this is the result of proper care. Do you have a want or need to dress better, but do not feel comfortable paying almost a hundred dollars for a good pair of leather shoes? I am going to show you the five necessary steps, including proper cleaning and polishing techniques, to revive and maintain an old pair of leather shoes so that they last for years into the future. Studies show that the first thing people subconsciously notice about you is your shoes, so why not give them the same care you give yourself.

Step 1: Supplies

You will need:

· A cleaning brush with soft to medium bristles (preferably horsehair)

· A dauber brush (preferably horsehair)

· Saddle soap

· two washcloths

· A polishing cloth

· A shoe sponge

· Paste shoe polish

· Sandpaper (optional)

· Newspaper or old t-shirts (optional)

· New laces (optional)

Many of the items above can be acquired by purchasing a shoe care kit from Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. The brand of these products absolutely does not matter, however Kiwi is the most popular brand and perhaps the easiest to find. Remember to try to match the color of your polish to the color of your shoes.

The bristles of the brushes can be made of synthetic materials such as plastic, but it is better to avoid these kinds as they can damage the outer layer of the shoe. For the polishing cloth, it is acceptable to use any smooth fabric such as an old t-shirt or socks. If available, it is recommended to use flannel rather than cotton but never use terrycloth (washcloths, hand towels) as it can remove some of the polish.

If a shoe sponge is not included in the care kit, you may want to purchase one if it is cheap enough or use a nonabrasive kitchen sponge. Saddle soap is a great choice for cleaning and conditioning the leather on shoes but if you cannot find any, an acceptable alternative would be a heavily oil-based soap or, if necessary, a mild bar soap such as Ivory.

Before we begin, it is highly recommended to remove the laces from the shoes whether you are going to replace them or not.

Step 2: Cleaning

The first step is to remove all of the dust, dirt, and buildup from the exterior of the shoe. Use the larger cleaning brush to thoroughly remove all debris from the outer surface, paying close attention to areas where dirt buildup is most common. Remember to spot check areas with a light colored washcloth to ensure there is no residue left behind.

Before moving on inspect the soles of the shoes and take notice if they are especially smooth. If this is the case, use the sandpaper to lightly scuff the soles to improve traction.­

Step 3: Conditioning

Now we must clean and condition the outer layer of our shoes. Take a damp cloth and work the saddle soap into a rich lather then apply to the outer surface of the shoe. Use small circular motions to ensure proper coverage and repeat the process if necessary. After the saddle soap has been applied, lightly dampen the shoe sponge and gently remove the excess lather. We must allow the shoes time to dry before moving on to the next step, it is recommended to fill the inside of the shoes with newspaper or old t-shirts to help them retain their shape and prevent creases from forming during the drying process.

After the shoes have completely dried, we must prepare to polish the shoes. This part can be the most time consuming depending on your preferred style of finish.

Step 4: Polishing

Now take the dauber brush and apply the paste polish to the bristles, remember to dab the brush onto a damp cloth or sponge before applying to the outer surface of the shoe. This allows the polish to blend with the moisture helping us achieve a smoother polish. Use small circular motions to properly cover and blend the polish onto the exterior of the shoe. If you feel an area starting to become rough, use a very small amount of water to reduce friction. Keep building up polish until you have evenly coated the entire outer leather layer of the shoe.

Step 5: Shining

Finally, we must shine our shoes.

Use the polishing cloth, adding very small amount of water and polish if necessary, to turn our coat of polish into a shining surface. Work in small areas using a circular motion to bring out a smooth and even shine.

Step 6: Lacing

If you have decided to replace the laces, be sure to choose a color of lace that matches or compliments the shoe color and the length of lace should correspond to the number of grommets (the little metal or plastic rings). The recommended way to lace up dress shoes is to use a straight lacing technique.

Step 7: Final Product

This is how our shoe looks compared to the other original shoe.