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Caring for Shoes

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2006

When we wear leather or suede shoes, it's usually with a bit of trepidation. Stains can easily result when our shoes come in contact with rain or salt, and can quickly become scuffed from general use. Follow these shoe-care tips to keep your shoes looking their best.

Tools and Materials
Lexol Leather Cleaner
Suede shampoo
Suede brush
Shoe cream and polish, both brown and black
Application brush for each color of polish
Horsehair buffing brushes (one for dark colors and one for light)
Several soft flannel cloths for buffing

Cleaning and Polishing Smooth Leather Shoes
1. Before you apply any creams or polishes to your shoes, you must first clean them.

2. For leather, use Lexol Leather Cleaner. Apply the cleaner with a damp cloth. Wipe with sponge. To remove mud, use a soft brush.

3. Wipe the shoe with a damp sponge, stuff it with newspaper, and allow it to dry completely. (You should repeat this process after exposure to rain or snow.)

4. Apply a fresh coat of polish. Use a colored polish if you want to mask scratches and fading. Cream polishes are best for long-term shoe care.

5. Buff to a shine with a horsehair brush. For the final buffing, use a soft flannel cloth.

Cleaning Suede Shoes
1. Sponge very lightly with a shampoo formulated especially for suede.

2. To raise nap of the shoe, brush gently with a rubber, nylon, or brass-wire brush made for this purpose. This will also remove dirt and mud.

3. Suede conditioner will help to rejuvenate color.

Removing Salt Stains
1. Rub shoes with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar. The white vinegar will dissolve the salt. If the salt marks return, repeat the process.

2. Stuff the shoes with newspaper and let dry naturally.

All of these supplies are available at shoe-repair shops or pharmacies. This technique was adapted from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook."

Comments (1)

  • lettersfromtahiti 8 Jul, 2014

    What is the best way to clean shoe brushes? I have this old wooden brush with (what I believe are) horse bristles. It's been in the family for over hundred years, and I suspect the tool has never been cleaned. There is a spectacular spectrum of brown and black shoe polish residue caked into the bristles. Most of the people would simply throw the whole thing out, but I just don't have the heart, it was my Grandpa's. The wood has an amazingly beautiful patina. Any suggestions? Thank you. Andrea