Best way to clean leather shoes: Take Church’s Oxfords for example

Church’s, originating from the UK, boasts a heritage dating back to 1873, known for their robust and exquisite footwear. When you invest in a pair of Church’s oxfords, it’s essential to nurture them. Quality leather shoes come at a premium and demand consistent upkeep to maintain their prime condition. In this article, we’ll guide you through the nuances of looking after your leather shoes, ensuring they retain their luster for many years to come.

Let’s delve into the steps to achieve this:

Caring for your Church’s oxfords involves a handful of essential tools and materials:

  • Shoe Trees: These handy devices maintain the shape and integrity of your shoes, protecting them from creases and potential cracks. Cedar variants are especially beneficial, offering both moisture-absorbing and odor-neutralizing advantages.
  • Soft-Bristle Brush: This gentle brush, often made from horsehair, delicately sweeps away any superficial dirt or grime.
  • Soft Cloth: An indispensable tool for spreading the conditioner and polish across your shoes seamlessly.
  • Conditioning Cream: Leather thrives when treated with these creams. They replenish the essential oils keeping the leather soft and stretchy. Plus, they shield against the elements.
  • Shoe Polish: A rejuvenating formula that boosts the shoe’s radiance, masks imperfections, and guards the leather. Choose one that matches your shoe color or go neutral for versatility.
  • Dauber: A compact brush with a rounded end that aids in evenly applying polish onto your shoes. Alternatively, the soft cloth can do the trick.
  • Horsehair Brush: Its robust and dense bristles are perfect for polishing, giving your shoes that glossy, refined look.

By equipping yourself with these tools and materials and adhering to our guidance, your Church’s oxfords will remain pristine for years to come.

Step 1: Set up with Shoe Trees and Unlace

Before diving into the cleaning process, start by setting up your shoes for success. First, slide in shoe trees. These handy tools, made of either wood or plastic, fit snugly inside your shoes, ensuring they maintain their shape and aren’t prone to unwanted creases or cracks.

Leather shoes, in particular, respond to environmental factors like humidity and temperature, sometimes shrinking or expanding. This is where shoe trees, especially those made of cedar, come into play. Cedar not only molds the shoe to its ideal form but also carries the dual benefit of absorbing moisture and neutralizing odors, leaving your shoes feeling fresh.

When inserting shoe trees, gently push them in, ensuring a snug fit that’s neither too tight to strain the leather nor too loose to leave space.

Once your shoes are prepped with the trees, it’s time to unlace. Laces, if left on, might get in the way of a thorough cleaning or even pick up dirt themselves. Moreover, they could hinder the smooth application of conditioners or polishes later on. So, gently unthread them from the eyelets and keep them aside in a spot where they won’t go missing or get tangled.

Step 2: Gently Brush and Wipe the Leather Shoes

For step two, it’s all about giving your shoes a gentle yet thorough cleaning. Regularly removing grime, dust, and the occasional stain ensures the leather remains vibrant and maintains its texture. Remember, leather’s natural porous quality means it’s prone to absorbing moisture and dirt, which can impact its color and sheen.

Begin with a horsehair or another type of soft-bristle brush. These brushes are specially designed to delicately remove dirt and particles from the leather’s surface without causing any abrasion. Avoid brushes with hard bristles or metallic components, as they can be too harsh and mar the leather.

With the brush in hand, employ gentle, short strokes to sweep across the shoe. Focus especially on those tricky spots like crevices, seams, and edges where dirt might hide. If you encounter more persistent grime, give the brush a soft tap on a sturdy surface to release the trapped particles.

Once you’ve brushed away the surface dirt, turn to a slightly damp cloth or a mild leather cleaner to tackle any remaining spots or marks. If you’re aiming to remove older layers of polish, consider using a more potent cleaner that can dissolve past applications, revealing the natural grain of the leather beneath.

Post-cleaning, it’s essential to let your shoes dry out naturally. Avoid the temptation to speed up the process with hairdryers or heaters, as excessive heat can lead to the leather becoming brittle or misshapen. Let them air out, and they’ll be ready for the next steps in no time.

Step 3: Nourish the Leather with Conditioning Cream

The third step revolves around pampering your shoes by rehydrating the leather. Keeping the leather nourished is pivotal to maintain its softness, elasticity, and smooth texture. Elements like sunlight, atmospheric exposure, or even water can dehydrate leather, causing it to become parched, fragile, and susceptible to cracks.

For this hydration process, you’ll need a leather-specific conditioning cream. It’s crucial to choose creams that don’t have alcohol, silicone, or petroleum derivatives, as these can adversely affect the leather’s integrity. Many specialty shoe shops or online retailers stock these creams.

Once you’ve got your cream, take a smooth, lint-free cloth or sponge to ensure an even application. Dip the cloth into the cream, squeezing out the excess to prevent over-application. With gentle, circular motions, work the cream into every nook and cranny of the shoe – from the tongue and heel to even the sole.

Post-application, give the leather some time to soak up the nourishment. About 15 minutes should do. In the meantime, you can attend to your other shoe.

Step 4: Recoloring and Reviving Your Leather Shoes

One of the trickiest challenges with leather shoes? Dodging those inevitable scratches. Whether it’s an accidental kick or a sharp object grazing them, such incidents can mar their pristine look.

Black cream polish is like a magic elixir for leather. Not only does it breathe life back into the color, but it also infuses the material with hydration and a protective barrier against moisture. It’s perfect for addressing fading, buffing out scuffs, and rectifying scratches, all while giving the leather a smooth and polished finish. However, a word of caution: steer clear of using toothpaste as a quick fix for scratches, especially on calfskin. It can wreak havoc on the leather’s delicate grain structure.

Step 5: Polish the Leather Shoes

The next order of business is giving your shoes that polished finish. Once the cream polish has set, a horsehair brush or a gentle cloth will be your go-to tools for buffing. Due to everyday usage, leather often loses its radiant glow, appearing lackluster and aged. Polishing is the secret sauce to restoring that gleam, rejuvenating the color, and fortifying the leather.

Buffing helps to eliminate any leftover polish, resulting in a seamlessly glossy appearance. To achieve this, take the brush or cloth, and with swift, brief strokes, glide across your shoes. For that extra bit of luster, a cotton cloth or even an old T-shirt can be a great aid.

Step 6: Achieving a Mirror Shine with Wax

For that impeccable shine, waxing is your next step. Select a shoe wax that aligns with your shoe’s hue, or opt for a versatile neutral wax suitable for any shade. This waxing technique is typically centered on the toe and heel to impart a heightened gleam. Be mindful not to lay it on too thick, especially around the areas where your shoes naturally crease, as it can lead to unsightly cracking or flaking.

Using a soft cloth or a dauber, start by gently applying the wax on the toe region, establishing a foundational layer. The aim is to have the leather’s natural texture gradually concealed by the wax, signifying the leather’s minor indentations are being effectively filled. Once this base is set, buff the waxed areas with a hint of water. This ensures any haziness is eradicated, revealing a glossy finish. This buffing routine, interspersed with minor wax and water additions, is to be repeated. To attain that coveted mirror-like shine, you’ll need about 5-6 wax applications. Shoe waxes can be conveniently sourced from most shoe retailers or online platforms.

Step 7: Safeguarding Leather Shoes from the Elements

Your last crucial step revolves around shielding your prized shoes from the detrimental effects of the sun, moisture, and challenging conditions. Ensuring your shoes remain protected from these factors is key to maintaining their pristine condition over time. Given that leather is inherently sensitive to varying environmental elements, it can undergo changes if not properly cared for.

Direct sunlight or intense heat sources can be detrimental, leading to faded or cracked leather. Thus, when not being worn, make sure to store your shoes in an area that’s cool, airy, and shielded from direct light. If you have them, utilizing dust bags or storage boxes can be beneficial.

Moist conditions like rain or snow can be the nemesis of leather. Avoid subjecting your shoes to such wet conditions. However, if they do get caught in a downpour, promptly dry them using a gentle cloth and insert shoe trees to retain their shape and counteract any potential warping.

Lastly, rough terrains or chemical exposures can be particularly harsh on your shoes. Steer clear of these as much as possible. If your shoes come into contact with contaminants or sustain damage, prompt cleaning and restoration become essential.

Wrapping Up

Adhering to these guidelines ensures that your Church’s oxfords remain impeccable for many years to come. While leather care might initially appear demanding, the rewards of your diligence will be evident over time. Think of leather shoes as a lifelong commitment, deserving of meticulous attention.

We trust that this guide has provided clarity and insight into shoe care. Should you have insights, queries, or additional advice about leather maintenance, we encourage you to share them in the comments below.

Check out related post: Loake 1880 Edward Review: A Premium Country Brogue Shoe for Men


Stan is an adventure enthusiast with a love for the outdoors and American heritage brands like Red Wing and Filson. With a background in environmental science, Stan combines his outdoor experiences with a commitment to sustainability. His reviews go beyond functionality, exploring the brand ethos and craftsmanship. Stan inspires readers to choose gear that's durable, environmentally responsible, and true to American craftsmanship, making his advice indispensable for outdoor aficionados.

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