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Caring for Leather: If the Shoe Fits, Protect it
With proper care, a good pair of shoes can last season after season. Learn how to get more mileage with Groupon’s guide to preserving your leather.
How you treat your shoes depends on the kind of leather used to make them. Here’s a handy tip sheet covering four common types of leather:
Full-grain leather: Wearing full-grain leather is the closest you can get to experiencing life as a warm, cozy cow. It’s made from hides that are missing only their hair; free of buffing or sanding, the leather is thick and dotted with unique natural marks. Over time, these quirks will by joined by an attractive patina. To preserve and enhance the burnished look, wipe the shoes first with a dry cloth, then with a warm, damp one. Let the shoes dry naturally, away from heat and sunlight. Then, using a cream polish matched to the shoe color, buff the leather until it shines. Take care with silicone sprays and liquid polishes—they may darken the leather.
Nubuck and suede: Nubuck and suede are two sides of the same split hide. Nubuck is made by sanding the tougher top part of the pelt, while suede is made by sanding the underside. With both, take a rubber eraser to any dirt, smudges, or absentminded doodles, then brush the shoes with a brush specifically designed for either nubuck or suede, taking care to rub the leather in a uniform direction. (Consider the stripes left when a carpet is vacuumed in two different directions.) Finish up with a silicone spray for added stain and water resistance.
Patent leather: Patent leather is known for its signature shine, achieved with a clear finish usually made from polyurethane, acrylic, or synthetic resin. To preserve its mirror-like surface, wipe the shoes with a damp cloth and a dab of mild soap. Then, use a silicone-based patent-leather cleaner to bring out the gloss.
Beeswaxed and oiled leather: Leather treated with beeswax or oil will be naturally resistant to water, and they need to be kept oiled and supple to keep you dry. First, wipe off caked-on dirt with a dry cloth, then apply an instant shoe-cleaning product and let the shoe dry naturally. For the final step, use an oil- or wax-based leather protector, such as lanolin.