How to Care for Suede Boots
Caring for Suede
Make Sure the Shoe Fits
Picture yourself as a manager conducting a job interview. A new candidate walks in the door dressed in a clean, well-pressed, conservative business suit, and wearing dollar store shower shoes. Wait! Stop! Shower shoes?! Who on earth would take all that trouble to get ready for an interview, but walk in wearing plastic flip-flops? Who indeed….Have you ever thought about your foot wear? More to the point, have you ever thought about the impression that it gives other people?
Many people spend hours upon hours shopping for a good price on quality leather shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and look nice, but very few people take the time to care for their leather shoes properly. From my experience, it is possible to get many years of almost constant wear out of leather shoes, provided that you take the time to maintain them. Just as you would never walk around in a stained and dirty shirt or pants that need pressing, there is no reason to walk around in scuffed up, dirty shoes. Below, I have outlined the basics for cleaning and polishing leather, as well as my experiences with heel and sole replacements.
To begin with, shop around and compare the cost of replacing shoe heels and soles at the various cobblers in your area. Don't forget to check out dry cleaners, as they frequently offer shoe repair services. I have found women's heel replacements ranging from $5-$12 and sole replacements for boots $15-$30. Much depends on the type of shoe/boot, the material it is made out of and geographical location. Before you balk at the idea of spending additional money on a pair of shoes you already paid good money for, allow me to point out that replacing heels and soles is still cheaper than buying new shoes. I have also found that the material used by cobblers for heel replacements lasts much longer than that used in the original manufacture of the shoes.
So, you ask, now I know that I can replace the heels and soles, when necessary…but what about cleaning them? What about those nasty scuff marks? Below I have outlined the basic materials and steps to cleaning and polishing all your leather (the cleaning methods also work well for leather bags and jackets, but you will want to leave out the polish).
Please note that most of these materials may be found around the house or at your local drug store. The only thing that might be harder to find in a drug store is edge dressing.
Basic shine on a black boot:
Oil tanned leathers: Boots made of oil-tanned leather do not take a shine and in fact wax polish will damage that type of leather. Clean boots with saddle soap and apply a leather conditioner such as mink oil.
Unless you have an exact color match, or when a boot/shoe has decorative stitching in a contrasting color, it is best to polish with neutral wax, using a separate brush and buffing rag and following the same steps as for black boots.
Water-proofing: Treating boots with water-proofing is the only time that you should ever apply heat to your leather. Warm your boots using a hair dryer or by setting them in the sun or briefly in the oven. Rub in as much SnowSeal or other water-proofer as the leather will absorb and wipe away excess with a clean rag. Allow boots to sit overnight before polishing.
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