Shoe Cleaning FAQ

Shoe Cleaning FAQ

How often should I clean and polish my shoes?  What can I do about a shoe polish stain? Here you will find a simple shoe cleaning FAQ, answering the most important questions about shoe care.

How do I clean my shoes?

Regularly brush away any surface dirt with a clean soft brush. There are also speciality brushes, such as a suede brush, that can be used on specific materials and are a valuable addition to anyone's shoe care arsenal. If the brush hasn't been used for a long time, clean it with a damp cloth and a very mild soap.

Make sure your shoes are completely dry before polishing them and wipe them down with a dry soft cloth to remove any surface dirt. 

How often do I need to polish my shoes?

A polish will nourish and protect the leather, so we would recommend that you polish them before their first wear and then every few wears.  The frequency depends on how often you wear them and what you put them through (e.g. for school shoes we would recommend once per week).  Polishes come in a variety of types.  We sell, what is traditionally referred to as, boot polish (the one that comes in a tin!), shoe creams and a waxy polish with an applicator. Both the boot polish and cream, you will apply with a soft cloth. The waxy polish will help to cover all scuffs and is great for school shoes as the applicator makes it quick and easy to apply. It is sometimes hard to match the colour of your shoe to the colour of polish, so if this is the case use a neutral polish.  

We would also recommend that you use a waterproof protector on your shoes. These are great for not only leather, but also most materials shoes are now made with.  Ensure that if your shoes have a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex, that the spray is silicone free, as the silicone can reverse the effectiveness of the membrane.  In-store, we recommend using Woly 3x3 Protector - this should be sprayed on the shoes and allowed to dry, repeating 3 times before the shoes are worn out, giving the protector time to bond with the material of your shoes to give maximum protection. 

Do patent leather shoes also need to be cleaned with shoe polish?

The surface of patent leather is a plastic coating on the leather and is therefore naturally impermeable – your shoes are therefore optimally protected against moisture. However, as leather is breathable and the patent coating is not, we would recommend you still look after them using either a Lack Polish, or many of our school Mum's recommend vaseline.

If they are dirty and they need cleaning, take a soft cotton cloth with a small amount of water and a drop of mild soap and wipe down the outside of the patent leather. Using a soft polishing cloth, dry the patent leather. Allow 24 hours for the item to dry at room temperature.

How to clean my fabric trainers? 

Sneakers made of fabric (canvas) are best cleaned in soapy water with detergent. Are they very dirty? Then immerse the sneakers completely in the soapy water and let them soak for a while. Then brush away the stains with a toothbrush. Just a few small spots? Then brush it out well with the toothbrush. Rinse your sneakers well and let them air dry in a place out of the sun. You can put a wad of paper without ink in the shoes so that they dry well. Do not put your sneakers on the heating, as they can warp.  As with leather shoes, we would also recommend using a Protector Spray.

How to clean my leather or suede sneakers?

Over time, leather can dry out and become a little stiffer. Therefore, clean your sneakers regularly with a cleaning cloth. To refresh the colour, you can rub them with the right colour or transparent shoe cream. This nourishes the leather and makes it nice and supple!

Suede is very more fragile. It is therefore wise to treat your suede sneakers before you start wearing them with a waterproof protector. Have they gotten dirty? Brush off the worst dirt with a suede brush and remove (grease) stains with a suede eraser or a suede cleaner such as Woly Combi Proper.  Never clean suede sneakers with soap and water!

How to dry my wet shoes?

Open the shoes completely, remove the insole and laces, and let them dry naturally at room temperature for 48 hours. Never use direct heat on your shoes, as this can permanently damage them.

Use a wooden shoe tree or stuff with newspaper to store your shoes. Keeping your shoes in a well-ventilated area, will aid in the absorption of internal moisture and the preservation of their shape. Our feet produce, on average, half a pint of sweat out of their 1/4 million sweat glands per day.   It is important to allow perspiration to dry completely, so avoid wearing shoes on consecutive days.

Oh no - a stain! How can I remove a shoe polish stain?

Oops, there you have it: the shoe cream did not end up on the shoe but next to it. There are several methods to remove those stains. Which one is the best depends on the material in which the stain originated.

Treat the stain as soon as possible. It is best to remove it whilst it is still wet. It is therefore often advisable to sprinkle the stain with a little water to keep it moist.  

Because most shoe care products contain dyes and/or pigments, it is often impossible to remove them from materials such as wool or velour.  If you want to keep your shoes cleaned and polished, but also have clean clothes, we recommend that you take good care when polishing your shoes and read the instructions carefully before getting started.

Can I clean my shoes in the laundry washing machine?

It is always better to just clean your shoes by hand!  You should definitely not put suede or leather shoes in the washing machine, unless there are instructions on the shoes to say otherwise.  Are y If your shoes are made of cotton, canvas or plastic other materials then it is can be less harmful.  But you can run the risk of damaging your shoes considerably... CHECK the washing instructions for the shoes and take note of the risks below:

- The material of the shoes gets damaged (especially with suede or leather).

- The glue comes off (and this makes the shoe soles come off).

- The colours of your shoes can run and fade.

- The shoes warp and shrink.

- The washing machine is damaged or broken.

- If you do put your shoes in the washing machine, put them in a pillowcase or something similar to stop the shoelaces getting caught in the washing machine.

How were shoes cleaned when shoe polish did not yet exist?

In the early days, shoes had to look clean and well-groomed, of course. But with the first shoe care products made cleaning shoes was just a sticky hassle. They consisted of a mixture of water, sugar, vinegar and black dye. The wide variety of products available today makes it a lot easier for us to keep our shoes clean and cared for, so we really have no excuse and it makes the shoes last longer.

Have you got some general tips on how to maintain my shoes?

- Never dry wet shoes near a heat source.

- Leather is a 'living' material and must be able to 'breathe'. Dry your shoes outdoors or stuff them with newspaper that you change regularly.

- For optimal preservation of your shoes, store them in a breathable shoe bag or shoe box, in an airy and dry place.

- Change shoes regularly so that they can 'rest' a bit. This extends their lifespan and is also good for your feet.

- Always air out your shoes at the end of the day. If your shoe has a separate supplement removable insole or you wear an orthotic, take it out.

- Always have your shoes professionally repaired by a recognized shoemaker.

- Use a shoehorn to help you put on the shoes.  Undo the laces or fastenings and be careful not to kick in the back of the shoe.

With all of the tips above you now have plenty of reasons to get your shoes out of your shoe cabinet and give them a thorough clean before we head into autumn. Have you got any additional tips on how to clean your shoes? Why don't you share them in the comment section so we can all benefit from your feedback.