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How to Care for Wet Leather Shoes

care how-to leather shoes suede

After record-setting snow fall, the resulting melt-out, and then a week of rain, your leather or suede shoes may be a little worse for wear.

If your leather shoes got a little dirty, take a lightly-damp rag and gently wipe dirt from the shoes.

If your shoes are suede or nubuck, you want to use a reasonably-stiff brush (an actual suede brush is best) to lightly and quickly brush dirt off of the shoe. Remember to always brush the suede in one direction - not back and forth. Suede has a 'grain' that we want to remain consistent.

Now the *really* important part. The first thing we need to do is to dry those shoes. Now, the worst thing you can do is unholster your hair dryer and aim it at your shoes. Do not - repeat - do not blow dry your shoes! Trying to rush the job with a hair dryer will result in baked and cracked leather shoes. We want to dry the shoes at room temperature – away from heat, and that might take a little time. Stuff your shoes with newspaper. This will help absorb moisture on the inside - which folks often forget about.

Once your shoes are dry, you want to apply a leather conditioner or shoe cream. Remember to only use your fingertips to apply the conditioner, and just like Brylcream - 'a little dab will do ya.'

Shoe cream

If you haven't applied a neutral-colored, silicone-based waterproof spray or leather dressing to your shoes, we recommend it - especially here in the Pacific Northwest. This step will keep your shoes looking clean and tidy for a longer period of time. 

Store your newly dried and conditioned on a shoe tree if you have one - or ideally any place where you still can get some airflow - these shoes like to breathe! But remember, we want to keep leather shoes - and particularly suede out of direct sunlight.


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