Leather shoes: How do I care for them?

The aim of London Brogues has always been to provide quality, comfortable mens shoes that are on trend without taking a chunk out of your wallet. Though they come with a lower price tag than some luxury shoe brands, our shoes and boots never scrimp on the materials used, or the care taken in their creation. It’s no wonder then, that our shoes become firm favourites that our customers want to wear again and again.

We think this is why the most common questions from our customers are:

  • How can I care for my brogues? 
  • What products do you recommend for cleaning leather?
  • What’s the best way to keep my suede shoes looking great?

As well as a few more questions about shoe care. 

As we use real leather uppers across our range of footwear and quality fabrics, with the proper care, our boots and shoes can last for years. That’s why we want to help you care for your brogues, by sharing some of our top shoe care tips from our years of experience in the shoe industry.

Gatsby leather brogue mens shoe in tan with herringbone tweed

Why are leather shoes better?

Real leather is a natural material, made by tanning the hides of animals, most commonly cows. 

This has meant that it has been around in large quantities for centuries. Some of the properties which make it so great for shoe making are its ability to be moulded and formed into different shapes, as well as sewn. 

It is also a breathable material, allowing for air to circulate, even when they are waterproofed. These qualities, along with others make leather both durable and fixable. Because they are breathable they are able to be dried out. 

As long as the leather is kept in good condition, with its natural oils intact, it will stay strong and supple, stretching to fit the shape of your foot without becoming too weak or tearing. But how do you keep your shoes clean and in good condition, in order to get the most value out of them?

How to clean your leather shoes

The best way of prolonging the life of any pair of shoes is keeping them dry and clean. But shoes are made to be worn, so some level of dirt is unavoidable. That’s why learning to both protect and clean your footwear is really important, and how you do that will differ based on the type of leather. 

London Brogue shoes are usually either a finished leather or suede. We will explain how to care for both. First we will talk about cleaning your shoes, and then about reconditioning them to try and give them some protection. 


For our finished leather shoes, start by removing any dried dirt or dust, for very small marks you can use the shoe bag that your London Brogues arrived in. We chose that fabric precisely because it can double as a polish cloth. For tougher dirt try gently rubbing your shoe with a soft brush. It may be that you need a bit more than this. If that is the case use a bit of warm water and a damp cloth to gently clean the surface of the shoe.

Avoid using a sponge as it may contain chemicals that could affect the leather and don’t use soap or detergent like washing up liquid! Soap is a degreaser and so it could remove the oil from the leather and dry it out, ruining the finish.

Hamilton suede Chelsea boot in bordo modelled in a field of heather with blue jeans


For Suede shoes like our hamilton chelsea boots, try to avoid the worst weather, as suede is not as hardy as its smoother cousin. It can be more resilient with good care, but it’s never going to be the preferred choice for a country lane in winter. Never fear though, we can help you know what to do if your suede shoes getting dirty is unavoidable.

If you do get your suede boots dirty, you can use a soft suede brush and suede cleaner to gently rub away the dirt without bruising it. As a last resort for stubborn marks, you can also try rubbing the boot with the suede brush under steam and then wiping it with an absorbent cloth. 

Whether your shoes are suede or leather, if the inside of the shoe gets wet it’s essential to dry them properly. Do not put them on direct heat, or under the radiator to dry, but rather stuff them with dry newspaper, changing it for new dry pages when needed. This will draw the moisture out without over drying the uppers.

How to protect your leather shoes

Once your shoes or boots are clean, you can now protect them against future dirt and moisture. 

Any leather uppers will need to be treated with a good quality wax polish. This will protect the shoe and also help give it a lovely shiny finish. Make sure your shoes are completely dry before applying the polish into every wrinkle and corner of your shoe. With brogues this can feel a bit of a pain, but trust us, it will prolong the life of your brogues and keep them looking amazing.

It's best not to use the liquid polish which comes with a sponge applicator, as they can be a bit harsh to good quality leather. Instead use a good polish cloth and some elbow grease to work that polish in. Once you are happy with the coverage, give them a good brush to remove any excess polish and to create a lovely shiny finish.

After you have polished them, apply a protector or conditioner. This can be a resin or spray for leather but for Suede we suggest you stick to a spray. Suede arguably needs the most protection as it can’t be polished in the same way you have the leather. This means you need to keep reapplying that protector, particularly throughout the wet weather months.


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