The A to Z Book of Menswear

How to care for your shoes

Make sure that you have the following items handy.

Polishing Leather Shoes
Select a polish that matches your shoe colour. Polishes that contain dyes, pigments, wax and conditioning agents keep footwear looking fresh, add shine and cover scuffs. They are available as liquids, pastes and creams. Although liquid polishes, with their foam applicator tops, are easiest to work with, shoe repair experts recommend the protection and conditioning offered by creams and pastes - liquid polishes can dry out shoe leather and cause cracking.
It helps to remove the laces (if any) before you start.

Lay your newspaper or old sheet on a flat surface. Use a brush or damp cloth to clean dust or dirt from the shoe, heel and sole. With a soft cloth, apply a small amount of polish in a circular pattern. An old toothbrush is useful for getting polish into small or tight areas, especially in the welts which need to be kept conditioned. Place the polished shoes to dry for about 15 minutes. Then brush with a natural bristle brush and buff to a shine with a clean rag. If you are polishing several pairs of shoes, be sure to use a different brush and rags for each colour of polish.

Cleaning Suede and Nubuck Shoes
Shoes with a nap, such as suede or nubuck, canít be polished. According to the experts, preventive maintenance is the key to keeping these types of shoes in top shape. After purchasing a pair of suede or nubuck shoes, youíll first want to apply a protectant to repel water and stains. However, repellant only lasts for a while, so youíll need to reapply it periodically. Gently brush suede and nubuck footwear to remove loose dirt and restore nap on a regular basis. If you own a pair of oiled nubuck shoes, you may also want to apply conditioner to preserve them. Stains should be treated immediately with a solvent-based suede cleaner. If they prove hard to remove, take the shoe to a shoe repair professional.

Caring for Athletic Shoes and Sneakers
Athletic shoes with fabric or suede uppers and trim can be cleaned the same way you clean your suede or nubuck shoes. Special sneaker shampoos, used with brush applicators, do a good job of cleaning stains and dirt from leather sneakers. Cover scuff marks with matching polish. Sneakers made from canvas, such as Converse All Stars, can be washed by hand using a toothbrush, mild soap and water.


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