How to Polish Leather Footwear

Leather Polishing

How to Polish Leather Footwear


Minnesota winters are enemy number one of your leather footwear. The salt and snow leave unsightly stains and dry out the leather. Quality leather footwear is long lasting, though does require some care. Regular polishing and conditioning of the leather will ensure your boots and shoes will look good and last a long time. But proper polishing is a careful process, so what is the right way to polish your leather boots?


How to Polish Leather Footwear

Step 1: Clean

Remove dirt, salt and debris with a damp cloth. Take care not to scratch or scar the leather in this step. In case of abrasive dirt, use a dry soft bristle brush to sweep away debris, then wipe down the edge of the sole. Remove salt stains with a homemade solution vinegar and water (use a 50/50 mix) or we sell a de-salting product.


Tip: Remove any laces to easily access the whole boot and avoid calking cleaner or polish in the fabric of the laces.


Use saddle soap when in need of a deeper clean. Use a damp cloth to rub the soap in the shoe or boot, until clean. Do not saturate the shoe when cleaning and allow enough drying time before continuing.

Step 2: Apply the Polish

Much like saddle soap cleaning process, dip a damp cloth in the polish and work into the leather with a circular movement. Use either a cream or wax-based polish. A wax-based polish will produce a greater shine.  Choose a color that matches as closely to your footwear as possible or use neutral polish.  The leather will only absorb a certain amount of polish, so don’t oversaturate the cloth.

Tip: Use a toothbrush and polish to clean and work the welts, or seams around the sole of the shoe. This is also a great way to refresh the stitching around the laces and collar.

Step 3: Buff with a Brush

Allow your leather footwear to dry for at least 10 minutes, so the polish can absorb before beginning the buffing process. To buff, use a natural bristle brush, such as horsehair, and move in quick movements going from side to side. Buffing should be gentle, or you risk damaging the leather. This will bring the shine back to the leather.

Polishing is only for smooth leather, not for suede, nubuck or oil tanned leathers. Other specialty products are available for those finishes. Using the proper technique and product will protect and

Cleaning and polishing your leather footwear will renew and sustain their look and functionality. It takes a little time and patience, but the result is well worth it.


Peterson Shoes carries a full line of leather care products including polish, brushes, saddle soap & salt remover. To prevent water stains from snow and ice, try our water proofing products. Or, drop off your leather goods at our adjacent shoe repair for a full clean and polish service.


Peterson Shoes is a family-owned shoe store and shoe repair shop serving the Andover, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids and Minneapolis areas. We specialize in orthotic shoe inserts, shoes for plantar fasciitis and shoes for tendinitis. Come check out our selection of Women’s shoes, apparel and accessories, and Men’s shoes at 209 E Main Street, Anoka, MN Or shop our selection online now.


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