If you’re a leather shoe lover, you probably already know the basics of leather shoe care; wipe off excess dirt with a soft cloth, use a leather conditioner, let your shoes rest overnight, apply wax polish when needed, or treat yourself to a shoeshine. But did you know that there are different ways to care for different types of leather? Not all leather is made the same. Here are some tips and tricks to help you care for the special leather in your life.

Pebbled Leather

Pebbled leather has a unique texture and is as low maintenance as leather gets. Each shoe is like a snowflake and if you care for them, pebbled leather shoes can last you a lifetime.

  • Any basic leather cleanser and conditioner should do for these shoes.
  • Microfiber cloth. Duh!
  • Beeswax polish as the finishing product.

Vegetable Tanned Leather

For those of you who like to eat your vegetables and wear them too, vegetable tanned leather is a common non-chemical way to treat and tan leather shoes. Vegetable tannins are used to dye the leather to the perfect hue. The classic beige brown with a smooth finish is a favorite among many shoe designers. This shoe is a natural one and needs a gentle touch when it comes to homecare.

  • Avoid water at all costs.
  • Use only a horsehair brush or microfiber cloth. Anything else will scratch your shoe.
  • Oil-based leather conditioner. Oil-based leather conditioners are able to absorb into the leather as opposed to surrounding.
  • Beeswax-based polish for a finishing shine.

Pull Up Leather

Pull up leather is a great option for the low maintenance and clumsy among us. A good way to tell if your shoe is made of pull up leather is by using the scratch test. Find a hidden spot on your shoe and give it a small scratch. If the scratch left a mark, rub a dry finger over the scratch mark. If the mark disappears, it’s probably pull up leather. Pull up leather repels moisture better than other leathers and overall, caring for this leather is pretty simple.

  • Use a high-quality leather conditioner to rejuvenate your shoes 1-2 times a year.
  • Use a soft polishing brush and a microfiber cloth. The soft polishing brush is slightly rougher than a horsehair brush, but should not scuff your shoes.
  • Follow with beeswax-based polish for a finishing shine.

Suede Leather

Suede holds a special place in many shoe lovers’ hearts as the most difficult leather to maintain. However, its difficulty is balanced out by its beauty. If you’re willing to put in the work, these shoes will work for you.

  • Care for your shoes right out of the box with a spray-on suede protector
  • Use a suede brush. It’s gotta be a brush, and it’s gotta be suede. Be sure to use light and quick strokes in one direction and avoid putting too much pressure on the shoes.
  • Use water to combat water stains. Dab a damp paper towel or use a spray bottle filled with water to diffuse water stains on your shoes.
  • Rubber erasers can be used to erase scuffs and stains.

Chamois Leather

Chamois leather is commonly seen, but rarely properly cared for. Similar to suede, chamois requires more attention than most leather. Chamois has a texture which is nappy and difficult to maintain. However, proper care will allow your leather to last a little longer. Luckily for you, chamois care tools are similar to suede.

  • Use a lint roller for lightly soiled shoes. Roll with the pile. Who would have thought a lint roller could be used to care for such a luxurious material?
  • Suede brush. Instead of the horsehair or soft polishing, suede brushes are the way to go.
  • Rubber erasers can be used to erase scuffs and stains on chamois shoes.
  • Protective suede spray. Use this spray right out of the box and for maintenance as needed. 

Cordovan Leather

To the untrained eye, cordovan leather looks like any other leather, but the price tag commands attention. Cordovan leather is made from a horsehide as opposed to cowhide. As a result, cordovan leather is extremely durable and naturally water resistant. Cordovan leather does not crease, but rather ripples. The most important rule when caring for cordovan leather is moderation.

  • Breakout your soft horsehair brush.
  • Use a renovator cream sparingly as to not dull the leather’s natural shine.
  • Mink-oil based wax polish is the appropriate wax to use for this shoe.
  • Microfiber cloth. Again, duh!

Calfskin Leather

Calfskin leather is a supple and valuable leather with a soft fine grain. Best of all, it’s surprisingly durable. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of it.

  • Due to its softness, opt for a horsehair brush.
  • As always, you need a microfiber cloth.
  • Back to basics, stick with a beeswax polish and a leather conditioner for added shine.

Patent Leather

The shiniest of all leathers, this type of leather is notorious for scuffing and scratching. The high gloss finish produces a relatively waterproof shoe, but modern-day patent leather is often treated with a plastic or resin which is a less durable and scuff prone treatment. While it is prone to damage, caring for this leather is relatively simple.

A one size fits all approach doesn’t fit when it comes to your style, and it certainly doesn’t fit when it comes to style maintenance. So when it comes to caring for leather, have fun and show your leather some love. When the situation gets serious, send it over to us a Shooli and let the professionals do the work.


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