Leather can dry out until it cracks, so proper conditioning and care is critical for protecting your investment.
The following steps will enable you to preserve your leather shoes:
- Condition (condition smooth leather before first use to protect the shoes from the start)
- Preserve or Weatherproof
There are important distinctions between caring for smooth leather shoes and caring for suede, exotic skins, nubuck, or athletic shoes. The following general instructions pertain to caring for smooth leather shoes.
Be sure that you follow the instructions that come with the products you buy, and to only use products designed specifically for the materials of your shoes. i.e. Do not use these instructions or a product made for smooth leather to clean suede shoes!
Prepare your work area by working on top of newspaper, wearing gloves, and performing the work in a well-ventilated area. These precautions are essential, as many shoe care products contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful.
Cleaning Smooth Leather Shoes
To do a full and thorough session of leather shoe care, you’ll want the following items. Be sure the products you buy are recommended for smooth leather shoes.
- Soft Cotton Cloths or Rags
- Soft Shoe Brush (optional)
- Smooth Leather Shoe Cleaner
- Leather Conditioner for Smooth Leather Shoes
- Shoe Polish, or a Shoe Polish Alternative
- Leather Protectant (Waterproofing Product)
Waterproof footwear could be soaking up water just because it is dirty. Through use, the outer surface of footwear will pick up contaminants, such as dirt, which attract water. This masks the effect of any Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, leading to footwear ‘wetting out’ in wet or damp conditions.
Cleaning waterproof footwear with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel™ will not only remove contaminants, such as dirt, but also revitalise DWR, causing water to bead on the outer surface once more.
Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel:
Recommended for Gore-Tex®, eVENT® & SympaTex® footwear.
- Rinse item with clean water to remove loose mud and to dampen surface.
- Shake well before use. Press sponge applicator to break seal.
- Apply generously over the area to be cleaned.
· If very dirty scrub with a stiff nylon brush (e.g. nail brush). You can use a soft shoe brush to aid in removing dirt from the surface of the shoe. This will also help to remove dirt from any cracks in the shoes. Rinse well with clean water.
- If required, apply appropriate Nikwax® WaterBased waterproofing or conditioner while footwear is damp.
Note: Colour may run, test on a hidden area first.
After cleaning, let the shoes dry for a few minutes and begin shining the shoes with a soft cotton cloth – either a shoe shine cloth, or even an old t-shirt, as long as it’s soft and made of cotton.
Conditioning Leather Shoes
The next time you buy a pair of leather shoes, condition them before ever wearing them. This will help insure that your shoes are best protected from the start, and will save time on future cleanings.
Nikwax Conditioner for Leather™ can be used to breakin new smooth leather boots without over-softening and also adds Durable Water Repellency (DWR). It should also be used periodically to maintain your smooth leather footwear; nourishing the leather by replacing tanning agents and lubricants, stopping it from becoming dry and stiff.
Nikwax Conditioner for Leather™ can also be used to restore suppleness to dried out leather and prolong the useful life of footwear.
The Right Protectant for Your Shoes
Different weatherproofing products serve different purposes. Beeswax product is used when you want waterproofing due to use in wet/muddy conditions and the look isn’t as important.
Beeswax products form a protective layer over the surface of the shoe or boot instead of being absorbed into the leather. This provides a better barrier against water, but the additional layers can alter the appearance of the shoes.
If the appearance of the shoe or boot is of more importance than the weatherproofing properties, a spray protectant would be more useful. It will provide a breathable barrier against mild to moderate wet conditions and dirt and this type of weatherproofing product is virtually invisible on your shoes or boots.
Smooth Leather Shoes:
Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof
Alternative waterproofing products are often solvent-based aerosols; alternatively, they may be water-based and use fluorocarbons. Aerosol products are flammable. Fluorocarbons pose a potential risk to the environment and to the long-term health of the consumer.
Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof™ is a safe product to use on breathable waterproof combination footwear. It is completely non-flammable, contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is fluorocarbon free. Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof™ has been specifically designed and optimised for fabric and leather combination footwear, providing Durable Water Repellency (DWR) whilst maintaining breathability. You don’t need to wait for your footwear to dry before application.
How to Use:
· Brush off dirt with a damp cloth and clean using Nikwax Footwear Cleaning
· Gel™.Shake well before use. Press sponge applicator to break seal.
· Apply generously to wet footwear; Spray-On (from a distance of 5cm) or Sponge-On.
· After 2 minutes, remove surplus with a cloth and allow to dry before use.
Note: Light/coloured fabric and/or leather may darken after treatment. Test on a hidden area first.
Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather (heavy use)
Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather™ is a safe product to use on breathable waterproof footwear. It provides instant Durable Water Repellency (DWR), maintains breathability and replenishes tanning agents in leather. It is non-flammable, contains no harmful solvents and is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fluorocarbons. Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather™ has been specifically designed and optimised for smooth leather footwear. The WaterBased formulation is directed to leaks, can be used on wet or dry leather and will not over-soften.
For best results clean footwear using Nikwax® Footwear Cleaning Gel™.
- Shake well before use.
- Rub the wax thoroughly into wet or dry clean leather, using either the sponge applicator or your fingers, paying special attention to seams.
- Remove any excess with a cloth and buff to a shine.
Note: May darken leather. Test on a hidden area first. Waterproofing Wax for Leather™ will convert nubuck to a smooth waxy finish.
SNO-SEAL (best for heavy use)
- Enjoy dry feet all day!
- Prevents water from penetrating leather.
- Lubricates and conditions leather without softening.
- Preserves and lengthens the life of leather.
- Does not interfere with the natural breathability of leather.
- Extremely resistant to salt stains and spotting.
- Does not soften heel counters or box toes.
- Will not damage seams or welts.
- Maintains flexibility in freezing temperatures.
- Will not crack during continual flexing of leather.
- Does not deteriorate like other products containing animal fat.
- Contains no silicone.
Mink Oil (best for heavy use)
Conditions and waterproofs smooth leather. Rejuvenates old, still shoes.
KIWIMink Oil contains a rich blend of mink oil, silicone, and lanolin which conditions and waterproofs smooth leather.
Make sure article is clean and dry before applying. Work a thin coat of KIWI Mink Oil into leather and seams with a cloth of polish applicator. Wipe off excess immediately, and allow to dry for several hours.
Camp Dry® Heavy Duty Water Repellent (don’t want to change appearance)
Provides tough, long lasting water protection.
Keeps water out, allows material to breathe. Treated material stays odor free after drying. Silicone bonds to leather/fabric to create an extremely tough water barrier, while still allowing article to breathe. Ideal for tents, tarps, boots, hunting apparel, outdoor gear, boat covers, and patio furniture. Contains silicone.
Article should be clean and dry. Use in a well ventilated area, away from heat and flame. Do not use while smoking. Hold can upright 7-10″” away. Spray evenly and thoroughly. Allow drying 24-28 hours at room temperature. Repeat application to ensure maximum coverage and protection. Spot test light colored materials as silicones may impart a slightly darker, richer tone
For Tents, tarps, hunting apparel, outdoor gear, boat covers, patio furniture, boots.
Nubuck & Suede Shoes:
Your footwear could be soaking up water just because it is dirty. First, try cleaning it with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel™, and if it is fairly new, or recently re-waterproofed, the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) will be revitalised just from cleaning. But, once the footwear has been thoroughly worn you will need to add DWR, using Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof™, after cleaning first with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel™.
- Brush off dirt with a damp cloth and clean using Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel™.
- Shake well before use. Press sponge applicator to break seal.
- Apply generously to wet footwear; Spray-On (from a distance of 5cm) or Sponge-On.
- After 2 minutes, remove surplus with a cloth and allow to dry before use.
Note: Light/coloured nubuck or suede may darken after treatment. Test on a hidden area first.
*Photo by Leszek.Leszczynski