Leather is one of the most popular and oldest materials from which shoes are made. They denote elegance and formality. A good suit should have a good pair of leather shoes. As leather emanates from animal’s skin, it tends to crack if neglected as it loses its natural hydration. And, if we do not treat it in time, it can break and ruin the shoe completely. How to repair it? How to prevent this? We bring you useful tips for you to do it yourself in the comfort of your home.
First of all, you have to assess the damage. For this, we must first clean the shoes to remove dust and all dirt. Any stain will be an obstacle to our restorative goal. It could be moldy, so let’s do this repair work in open space to prevent it from spreading.
Using an old rag or toothbrush, rub the shoe until all stains are removed. If it does not come out, soak the brush or rag in warm water. If you like, you can apply a little white vinegar. It serves as a disinfectant and will eliminate bacteria. Consider getting rid of the brush and rag because they are contaminated with mold spores. If you have respiratory problems or suffer from allergies, we recommend using a mask, protective glasses, and gloves for your health and safety.
It would help if you were careful with the damp cloth. Leather should not be soaked in water. Water cracks faster, as does moisture. Make sure the rag or brush is slightly wet and does not drip. Ready! Your shoes are mold-free.
Now you have to clean them with saddle soap. This is a unique leather soap blend. Its elements soften and preserve the leather. Some have bleach, so you must be careful. Bleach is harmful to leather. Using a soft brush, apply the saddle soap evenly until the leather is softer and more flexible. Do not apply too much if bubbles are formed. Afterwards, clean them with some water, and immediately wipe them with a dry cloth. Please wait for it to dry.
First of all, fill the shoes with rolled rags or newspaper in the form of balls. You must fill it to the maximum. It serves multiple purposes: it maintains the shape of the shoe and absorbs the moisture.
Apply a moisturizer to re-hydrate the leather. You can google it to have a clear idea. But, the most common way is to mink oil. You can apply it with your fingers or a toothbrush. Apply to a small area, as it tends to darken the leather. If the resulting color is to your liking, apply it to the entire shoe. Generously spread the moisturizer inside the crevices to re-hydrate. Also, heating the leather slightly with a hair dryer helps absorb the oil. But, be careful with the temperature. It can deform the shoe or burn the oil.
Keep in mind that leather cannot be “repaired” because they are skin fibers that crack and open. What we can do is to fill in the cracks, so they are not visible.
Different leather fillers are available in leather goods stores—most water-based. Apply as necessary until you see no cracks. Let dry for 20 minutes and check if you continue to see the cracks. Then, apply another coat. We suggest that you use a sponge for this. Let it dry for 30 minutes.
With fine-grit sandpaper, rub the area where you applied the filler until it is flushes with the rest of the surrounding leather. I recommend 240-280 to avoid scratches. When everything looks level and pleasant, clean the shoes again with a dry cloth to remove the dust. Look back and repeat if necessary.
Polishing and painting
Look at your artwork and notice that it has more than one color due to the mink oil and filler you just applied. Use a shoe cream. It polishes and add colors to the leather, so we will use one that matches the original color of the shoe. Or if the damage has been very considerable, you will have to be very careful. Usually, black color is more useful here, and more classic.
Apply a coat with a soft brush and rub the area in a circular motion. Polish the shoes with a clean cotton cloth. Microfiber cloths also work. Rub for about 5 minutes. Do it in both shoes evenly so that it looks uniform.
Review the entire process one more time. Are there any cracks left? Don’t you like the final color? Go back to the previous steps and repeat them if necessary.
Use a leather conditioner once a week. With a clean cloth, apply conditioner to each part of the shoe in small circular movements. Until you cover it completely. This keeps the leather hydrated and prevents it from cracking. It will keep your leather shoes shiny for longer time.
Final bits of advice
Avoid getting your leather shoes wet at all costs! This dries the leather out, and that’s when they crack. However, if this happens, fill it with newspaper and leave it overnight in a warm and dry place. Also, if you are going on a trip or you are not going to use them for a season, store them in a non-moisture box. This will preserve them for much longer.
I recommend it too. Keep a microfiber cloth with you to keep your shoes clean and shiny everywhere you go.
I hope these tips are constructive and will guide you through the process of restoring your shoes amicably. Cheer up! Take it as a weekend project. Use safety measures to avoid allergies. Work at your own pace, and you will see that you are not only saving money but also learning something new. Happy Reading!