Hints, Tips and Materials

Work area

Spread out a newspaper and put on an apron! Put on some nice music or a good radio programme. Put on the kettle.

Typical "Shoe kit" for everyday care

Typical “Shoe kit” for everyday care

Tools of the trade.

1) A small brush and cloth for each colour of shoe, for putting on stuff

2) A larger brush for each colour, for taking it off again.

3) A set of cleaner cloths for final polishing

4) An old toothbrush for each colour of shoe (see later).

5) A brush for getting dirt off in the first place – a cheap nail brush is good enough for this and can be replaced when it gets old and mangled!

6) A damp cloth, if said dirt is stubborn.

7) A stiff brush designed for raising the nap on Nubuck and Suede if you have such shoes.

8) Perhaps a cocktail stick for rootling wax and other grot out of broguing.


1) Wax polish (good stuff) for every colour of shoe

2) Neutral shoe cream and polish.

and possibly …

3) Specialist cleaners for suede/nubuck if you have such shoes

4) A set of brushes and cloths that are only used on your Spectator shoes – if you have a pair.

5) Saddle soap for removing wax build-up from shoes occasionally.

Miscellaneous advice – Hints, Tips and Problem-Solving

Shoe Trees and Shoe Horns – use them, all the time!

Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days running if you can help it.

This allows the shoes to dry naturally and the trees to do their job in minimising creasing and cracking.

Don’t dry out shoes on/near a radiator, with a hair-drier, or in a hot cupboard.

Let them dry naturally, on their sides if they have leather sole, and with trees inside.

Salt stains are a pest.

These look like white shading around an area of a shoe that has been wet. Let the shoes dry, wipe off the stains with a clean, damp cloth and then treat the shoes to some “tender-loving-care” as described above. The marks may reappear. They will fade with subsequent wearings and assiduous cleanings …. but …

Don’t get your good shoes wet if you can help it.

Even the best-made and carefully-looked-after Goodyear welted shoes are not Wellington Boots. They will survive a soaking, provided that you dry them carefully and slowly as described above, but not 100% unscathed. They may acquire slight “watermarks”, which will reduce with subsequent wearings and cleanings and could be seen to be part of the shoes’ patina. However, if you know you’re going to be paddling, take your shoes off or don your Wellies, depending on the weather and your mood. Proper-job, Goretex hiking boots are a further option and they actually benefit, visually, from a few war wounds!

Treat the soles of leather shoes from time to time

as described here – it keeps them supple and strong