Even though winter is (hopefully) coming to an end, it's never too late to show your leather some love. In this post I'm going to walk you through the steps I take to clean and condition my leather boots, shoes and bags when they start to look a bit dirty and dull. These products are very reliable and will not harm even the most expensive and delicate pieces. Take note that this method does not work for suede. Opt for a vinegar and water cleanser, followed by a silicone based spray when caring for suede. I've also recently discovered how amazing baby wipes work to clean rubber boots, pleather items and real leather in a pinch. Their moisturizing and cleansing properties work to gently clean leather like they do on the skin.
There's nothing quite like some well crafted leather boots. I was fortunate enough to stumble across these beauties when I was visiting Barcelona a few years ago. They're still in great condition and have comfortably formed to my feet over time. To avoid having leather crack, wrinkle and show its age, you have to treat it like your actual skin. This means proper cleansing and moisturizing.. but not nearly as often, of course. Cleaning frequency will really depend on the weather and wear time, but it's pretty obvious when your shoes are in need of a clean.
I have two incredible products that make leather care quite simple. They're both by Tana, one being the delicate cleaning lotion and the next being Mink Oil. I bought these a few years ago, so the packaging has changed a bit. You can find these products at most shoe stores. They're around $10 and literally last for years. Bargain, I'd say.
First step: Brush off all loose dirt on your shoes, using baby wipes to dissolve the more stubborn stains. Then pour a loonie sized dollop of cream cleaner onto your rag and rub in circular motions to remove deep salt stains and scuff marks.
Second step: After the cleaner has dried, pick up some mink oil on your fingers and begin to massage it into the leather. This balm-like oil must be warmed up and worked into the leather, like you would with hand lotion. You don't need a lot, but you definitely need to massage it in until it has been absorbed. It isn't harmful to your skin at all, and actually leaves your hands feeling quite soft! Make sure to still wash your hands after this step though.
Easy as that! Your leather will now be fresh, moisturized and water-repellent. Make sure to dry off and clean your leather as soon as possible if it gets attacked by the winter salt and snow. Over time, salt will eat away at the leather and cause it to get dried out and permanently damaged. This cleaning routine might seem like a bit of a drag, but the results are definitely worth the effort.
See my video here to see the steps in action: http://youtu.be/IIFlA5xauBo