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The Care and Keeping of Leather Footwear

Keep your leather footwear looking as great as it did on unboxing day.

Adding a leather conditioning session every few months will keep leather footwear looking great for years to come.

Here at Bed|Stü, we take pride in crafting high quality, sustainably sourced and ethically produced leather goods that look and feel good. Your Bed|Stü pieces are mean to last. However, like all things, they won’t last forever without a little help. It’s important to take the time to protect your investment by providing the proper care for your new leather pieces. You can extend the life of your products by hydrating them every few months to ensure years of enjoyment.

Cleaning your leather shoe before conditioning and polishing is vital to extending the life of your footwear

Getting dirt and dust on footwear is inevitable, so the first step to the cleaning process is to remove dirt and debris from your shoe. Using a clean cloth (or slightly damp if necessary), brush off dirt from your shoe’s upper in gentle motions. For you over-achievers, a horsehair brush (we like this one made by Burgol, and this one from Nisolo) will do the trick too. If your shoelaces are dirty, remove them from the shoe and hand-wash them in a small container with a little laundry detergent and warm water and let air dry.

You can leave them off until after the rest of your cleaning session is done (it will be easier this way).


After allowing your shoes to air dry, the next step is applying the conditioner. Leather conditioner is a cream that is designed to be absorbed naturally into the leather so the natural flexibility of the fibers can be restored. If the leather’s oils and moisture are lost, this reduces flexibility and can cause the leather to crack. Dirt, dust, and grease can also get trapped in the pores of the leather, so a conditioner, in addition to keeping leather soft, will also help provide protection from surface stains. Depending on the leather conditioner used, it can also deepen the color of the leather and enhance the patina, or the sheen or wear that develops on leather through use. Leather patina is unique to each piece, it’s leather type, and its owner.

Choosing a leather conditioner can be tricky, as each conditioner can affect your footwear differently. Neutral conditioner can be used on all leather shoes, but a color-matched conditioner can help to cover small scratches, scrapes, and scuffs. We recommend our own neutral Revive Cream, made with natural, cosmetic grade ingredients, but you can choose what is suitable to your leather type and preference.

Shop BED|STÜ Revive Cream
Using a quarter-sized amount of conditioner on your application tool is the ideal amount, but it is better to use less than more so you do not oversaturate your leather.

  1. Using a soft sponge or towel, gather a small amount of product and gently apply it to the leather using light, circular motions. You may see slight color transfer on to your sponge/towel. This is normal.
  2. Allow your conditioner to soak in.
  3. Remove any excess cream with a soft cloth.
  4. Buff with a brush or clean cloth (microfiber is recommended).
  5. Repeat the process if desired.

Give your leather footwear a breath of fresh air with a cleaning, conditioning and polishing session

An optional step to get that next level look for your footwear is to polish them to add a little shine. Shoe polishes often have harsh or abrasive chemicals in them that can be toxic and harmful if misused. In line with our values, we recommend finding a non-toxic polish that is made with natural ingredients. Pure Polish, made in Bend, Oregon, has a line of leather care products that are made with 100% natural ingredients and are biodegradable! You can check out their collection of both neutral and tinted shoe polishes here


This next step can be a little messy, as shoe polish stains are difficult to remove from porous surfaces, so we recommend placing a protective cloth or newspaper over the surface you are working on.

  1. Apply a thin layer of neutral or color-matched polish with a lint free cloth in small circular motions (again, less is more!).
  2. Using a shoe brush, apply short, repetitive strokes to remove any excess and allow to polish to absorb further into your shoes.
  3. Allow to air dry.


What if my leather shoes get wet?

Oh no! Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world! Proper aftercare can help restore your leather footwear.

Please note that It’s important to treat wet leather while it is still wet. Following the conditioning steps above while your shoes are still wet will allow the conditioner to absorb deeply into the pores of damp leather, which will help restore moisture.

Leather can also stain when wet, especially by rain, so you can spot clean stains by rubbing spots with a clean, damp sponge.

Benefits of Waterproofing/Water Resistance Spray or Polish

Due to its permeable nature, leather cannot be 100% waterproof. However, making them more water resistant can be beneficial in adding to the longevity of your footwear.

Every 3-6 months, spray a thin coat of protective spray, such as this from Terrago Nano, after conditioner and polish have set into the leather. Or as an alternative, Pure Polish has a collection of tinted water-resistant polishes made with 100% natural ingredients that can help protect your footwear.

These steps, along with proper storage to protect shoes from dust and abrasions, can help keep your footwear looking their best all year long, for years to come.


Popular Mechanics - “How to Make Your Leather Shoes Last Forever”

Mahi Leather - “Leather Care: What’s the Best Leather Conditioner” and “Is Leather Waterproof or Water Resistant?”

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