Shoes get a lot of punishment through wear, from scuff marks and scratches to water damage. In the UK particularly, it’s practically impossible not to expose footwear to rain. It’s therefore important to use the right sort of leather cleaner and leather protector. 

Many different types of leather are used to make footwear, the most common being pigmented leather (coloured), aniline leather (smooth porous), pull up, suede and nubuck. The best way to distinguish between them is to rub a small drop of water onto the surface and see what happens next:

  • If the liquid penetrates and darkens the area, it's porous aniline leather.
  • If the water stays on the surface, it means there is a protective coat on it so it is likely to be pigmented leather. 
  • The difference with pull up leather is that this has an oily or waxed surface - you can create scratches and easily wipe them off.
  • Suede and nubuck are both velvety but nubuck is much finer.
Leather shoes

How to look after pigmented leather shoes

Pigmented coloured shoes are the most commonly found and also the easiest to clean and maintain. We would always recommend appling Colourlock Elephant Leather Preserver to this type of shoes and boots to make them water repellent, this is particularly important for hiking or hunting gear.

To clean these pigmented shoes, you can use the LEDER FEIN Leather Shoe Washing Agent.When mixed with water it can be used to brush off any dirt. You should clean the whole surface to ensure an even colour. This detergent is also a disinfectant. It regulates the leather’s pH value and reduces odours. 

If damage to your shoes cannot be removed with this cleaning process, please consult a shoe specialist.

Changing the colour can be achieved with a Spray Can Colour for coated leather. Please refer to the appropriate manual for the colour spray.

How to look after aniline leather shoes

Aniline leather shoes are not suitable for wet weather as water would penetrate very easily, leaving permanent stains. 

You should protect this type of footwear with Colourlock Waterproofing for Leather & Textiles. This product is not as strong as the the Elephant wax used on pigmented leathers, so you should still avoid wearing them on rainy days!

In the event of stains you should always consult a leather specialist to ascertain the damage and find the best solution. You can wipe off recent stains carefully without applying too much pressure or rubbing and smearing them. If the stain has been caused by oil, you can use the Colourlock Fat Absorber Spray carefully following the instructions.

We don’t recommend re-colouring aniline leather shoes as this would destroy the character of the leather, making it pigmented. There are some coloured leather shoe polishes in the market that can be used instead. 

How to look after suede or nubuck leather shoes

The sensitive nature of suede and nubuck leathers make stains and scratches hard to remove. They are also not appropriate for wet weather conditions as stains are easily visible immediately. You should regularly brush this kind of shoe with a special brush like the Colourlock Leather Cleaning Brush. Protecting your suede and nubuck shoes is also very important with Colourlock Waterproofing for Leather & Textiles, or Colourlock Aniline Protector for older or dry shoes.

Light stains and dust can be brushed off, but more stubborn dirt will need to be removed with the Colourlock Leather Sanding Pad using very gentle strokes to avoid creating further damage! You can also remove heavy soiling with LEDER FEIN Leather Shoe Washing Agent which is mixed with water. This product contains oils to keep the leather soft after the treatment. This detergent is also a disinfectant, it regulates the leather’s pH value and reduces odours. We advise giving the shoes a final brush to bring back their natural velvety feel.

If the stain has been caused by oil, you can use the Colourlock Fat Absorber Spray carefully following the instructions.

We wouldn’t recommend re-colouring this type of leather shoe as it is nearly impossible to achieve a good result. 

How to look after pull up leather shoes

Pull up leather is waxed or oiled and it is prone to get scratch marks, but these are easy to remove by simply brushing some Colourlock Elephant Leather Preserve which will not only remove the marks, but will make the surface water repellent. 

For heavy soiling we recommend  LEDER FEIN Leather Shoe Washing Agent which contains oils to restoring the leather’s original conditions and softness. This product is also a disinfectant and it regulates the leather’s pH value and reduces odours.

As with aniline leather shoes, re-colouring is not recommended but you can use a colour shoe polish.

Leather shoe cleaning products

How to look after leather shoe soles

Some shoes can also have leather soles which require special treatment. Shoe soles will become dry and brittle with use. It is important to treat them from the start as they will suffer a lot of damage and be constantly exposed to wet surfaces. The LEDER FEIN Leather Sole Oil will dramatically increase the lifetime of these leather soles, as it reduces friction as well as making them waterproof. The first time you apply this product should be done extensively with a sponge or cloth to make sure it is fully absorbed by the leather. 

Other leather shoe issues

Tight shoes or boots can be treated with LEDER FEIN Leather Shoe Washing Agent which will soften the leather, making it yield slightly. A shoe specialist might be able to offer further help if they are still too tight.

Sometimes coloured leather shoes can transfer dye onto your socks or feet. This will happen if the leather dyes were not sufficiently fixed during manufacturing. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for this. If the discolouration is high, we would suggest taking them back to the store. Using the LEDER FEIN Leather Fixative can reduce the dye transfer but it won’t stop it.