How To Winterize Your Leather Shoes
By Adeline J. Wells
No matter where you live, winter’s impending arrival will likely bring with it a swift shift in weather. Some may experience an onslaught of snow, salt, and ice; for others it may be rain, or the relentless Stana Ana winds. Just as we update our wardrobes for winter, it is also key to prepare our shoes. Here are some tips to ensure that your leather shoes survive this season’s spell.
Keep Up with Regular Cleanings
While it is always advised to regularly clean leather shoes, it is crucial to do so in the wintertime. Heightened winds will carry with them dirt and dust that cling to shoes, while excess rain, slush, and snow often contain salt; left uncleaned, this can easily weaken and stain leather.
Always start with dusting off the shoes in order to clean off any large debris. Wipe down the leather with a damp rag, taking extra note to cleanse off any salt residue. Remaining salt stains can be removed with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar; use a damp rag to work through the stain. Wipe off, and allow the shoes to air-dry.
Use a Leather Conditioner
Salt is especially damaging to leather goods; even following a good cleaning, it will often leave leather overly dry, which can lead to brittleness and cracks. Ensure that your shoes are clean before applying a quality leather conditioner that contains lanolin. Conditioners nourish the oils in the leather, keeping them prime so that they don’t dry out. They are best applied with a soft cloth post-cleaning, while the leather is still slightly damp.
Waterproof with a Wax or Seal
After conditioning your leather shoes and allowing them to dry, it is important to properly waterproof them with a wax or seal. There are a variety of different options to waterproof leather, from spray-on sealants to wax-based polishes designed to match the specific leather color. Whether you opt for a spray or a wax seal, these products are created to guarantee that water and salt do not cause permanent damage to your shoe.
Following cleaning, conditioning, and waterproofing, shoes should be allowed to rest for 24 hours prior to wear. One of the best ways to store shoes is by way of a cedar shoe tree, which draws any residual moisture from the leather in order to prevent issues such as staining or stretching. The form also helps retain the shoe’s structure, which will diminish the likelihood of any wrinkles forming in the leather. As an added plus, cedar’s antibacterial properties and clean, woody fragrance will keep your shoes smelling fresh (and festive!) all winter long.