Nice leather shoes are an investment with a long lifespan if cared for properly. Your shoes experience more wear and tear than any other item in your closet, which means they need more attention. Simon’s Shoes is proud to sell high-quality leather products that can stand up to years of use, but a few simple steps can help them last even longer. Keep reading for our recommendations on how to keep your leather shoes in great condition. 

What to Know

The main dangers to leather are drying out or getting too wet and harboring mildew. Leather is breathable, so water will evaporate naturally with time and space. If your shoes get wet, prevent mildew by allowing your shoes that room to breathe; don’t store them in plastic bags or closed-off spaces. You should also avoid exposing your shoes to direct heat or sunlight. Rushing the drying process may cause the leather to dry, crack, shrink, or all of the above. The leather will also dry out and crack on its own in time, similar to your skin in the winter; this is why added moisture from conditioning products is helpful. All in all, leather is a very durable fabric and doesn’t need a lot of care, but a little bit of attention can go a long way.

Before Trying New Products

First of all, when trying ANY new product, you should test it in a small spot. Any leather treatment is likely to change the color slightly, and there might be other side effects you didn’t expect. Wait 24 hours for it to dry so you know what you’re getting before you use it on the rest of the shoe.

You should also check the products you plan to use for toxic chemicals. Some shoe polishes may contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. You can still use these products, but make sure to use gloves and apply the polish in a well-ventilated area.

Step 1: Cleaning

At the very least, you should wipe down the leather with a damp cloth about once a week. Your shoes can pick up all kinds of dust, dirt, and debris, which can lead to premature aging. You’ll especially want to clean them if you wore them in particularly dirty or wet conditions, like a storm.

Step 2: Conditioner or Cream

The role of leather conditioner or cream is to moisturize your leather and keep it from cracking. Its purpose isn’t to make your shoes look better, it’s to protect and care for them. It acts much like a lotion for your skin, and you can apply it in much the same way. Use small amounts and rub them into the leather. Let the leather absorb what it can and then wipe off the excess.

Step 3: Polish

Polish is meant to make your shoes look their best. There might be some moisturizing elements in the product, but it serves a different purpose than leather conditioner. Cleaning your shoes first is often part of the polishing process, however, so getting in the habit will likely help your shoes last longer even if you don’t use conditioner. Find a polish that matches the color of your shoes, and apply it much like a leather cream.


There is some debate about whether or not you should waterproof your leather shoes. Most products are treated with some kind of weatherproofing, so your leather should hold up fine in most conditions. If you are considering treating your shoes further, keep in mind that waterproofing is only for the sake of your feet and has no benefit for your shoes. If you regularly wear your shoes through wet or snowy conditions, waterproofing treatments are for you. You can use sprays, but waxes are typically higher quality and you have more control over how it is applied. Generally, your shoes should only need to be treated once a year.

What to Do

At the very least, cleaning your shoes once a week will help them last longer. When you get a new pair of leather shoes, it’s a great idea to condition them before you wear them, and then every three to six months afterwards. Dress shoes in particular should be cleaned and polished regularly to keep them looking nice. Another great investment would be cedar shoe trees — they will help your shoes keep their shape, reduce creasing, and naturally absorb moisture and odors.

The level of care and attention you pay to your shoes is up to you. Simon’s Shoes is proud to sell high-quality products that should last for years through all kinds of weather. Cleaning and conditioning your leather shoes can help them look great and last even longer. Shop now for women’s boots or men’s dress shoes and get free shipping!