One of the best investments you can make is on quality leather shoes. The only catch is that you must take care of those shoes religiously. A quality pair of shoes will last you a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Also, the products you use on your leather footwear do not have to cost more than the price of the shoes. There are a number of tips to help you maintain those leather shoes so they will not only last longer, but will maintain a great look.
The first thing to remember is that two pairs of good quality leather shoes will last more than twice as long as one pair. This mathematical impossibility is nonetheless true, because by purchasing two pair of leather shoes, you can wear one pair every other day and allow the shoes to dry on a cedar shoe tree to absorb the moisture from your skin and from the leather while still holding the shoe in the correct shape. In this case, 1 + 1 = 3.
Cleaning your leather shoes is largely a matter of daily care and daily attention to any blemishes. Using all natural shoe care products allows the leather to breathe. Suggested cleaning products include those made specifically for leather, such as saddle soap. If you use saddle soap, and follow the treatment with mink oil, you will almost always have great success in keeping your footwear looking like new. These products can be found in most areas where shoe care items are found. Goop hand cleaner which can be found in most automotive supplies stores is another great product for getting the leather clean, without damaging the product. Goop is waterless and is excellent for removing oil and grease from the surface of the leather. Pine gum will help to restore your shoes when they are the victim of small nicks, scratches and cuts. This product soaks into the leather and serves as an excellent camouflage. If the color of the leather has faded, pine gum will help to restore the color and appearance.
If you often find that you are walking or working where there is a lot of moisture, you can provide some waterproofing for your leather shoes or boots. This will help to protect the footwear from salt stains, snow and from water. If shoes do get damp, store them on a shoe tree to dry, but never place the leather shoes close to direct heat such as a stove or fireplace unit. Beeswax provides excellent water-repellent properties for protecting your leather shoes from the elements. There are also waterproofing type products sold where shoe care products appear that will help protect your shoes against the elements.
Conditioning your footwear helps to maintain soft and supple leather. Preventing cracks in the surface of the leather means that less harmful agents can attack the leather. Keeping the leather soft means the shoes will fit more comfortably too. Lanolin is great for softening the leather, while emu oil restores the natural moisture of the leather by deep penetration into the shoe.
When you are cleaning and conditioning your shoes do not forget to take care of the inside of the shoe. Using Eucalyptus oil or Tea Tree oil prevents the deterioration of the stitching by fighting against mildew and mold in the interior of the shoe as well as in the top stitching.
Keep in mind that specialty leather products such as suede or patent leather have special products intended specifically for their care. For example, you would not want to use some of the oil or cream based products in caring for suede shoes. Often regular, gentle brushing to remove loose soil and a spray on suede cleaner will be just the thing for cleaning that type of leather.
If you find problems developing in the stitching or the soles of the show, or anywhere on the shoe in fact, put the cost of repairing the shoe against the cost of replace them and make a trip to the local repair shop for shoes. The price of a good repairman is well worth it in terms of lengthened shoe life.
Finally, many people have success in caring for their shoes with various household products not specifically created for leather shoes. For example, petroleum jelly rubbed gently into the leather then allowed to sit before a bit before being wiped off keeps leather uniform shoes looking great. Others swear by furniture polish sprayed on lightly and wiped down with a cloth.
The most important part of maintaining leather shoes is the daily condition, cleaning and care.