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Nov 10, 2022
6 min

11 Luxury Shoe Cleaning Tips Experts Approve

Imagine coffee spilling onto your immaculate white-crocodile Gucci Jordaan loafer, mud splashing on your Louis Vuitton Archlight slingback pumps, puddle water dousing your cream Dior sneakers, or grass stains refusing to come off your light blue Chanel lambskin espadrilles. 

What should you do?

The thought of the above situations must give designer shoe aficionados nightmares. However, things happen, and shoes — no matter how careful you are — can and will get dirty. You can’t keep them in their boxes forever. Even if you do, they may still succumb to oxidation.

So, what should you do? 

The answer: professional designer shoe cleaning services. 

Remember, you get what you pay for. 

If you want professional results, seek professional help. If you’d like your now-grimy designer shoes looking like new, you want expert designer shoe care.


Clean First and as Soon as Possible. 

Of course, if the above things or something similar happened to your shoes, this is the first thing you must do before you schedule a pickup with your favorite shoe cleaning service.

We repeat: If milk, water, mud, oil, makeup, dirt, or something else entirely splatters or douses your luxury nubuck lambskin leather shoes or precious monogram sneakers, grab a clean, dry, soft cotton cloth and dab on the affected spots or area. 

Remove as much of the contaminant from your shoes as possible. Try not to rub off the offending substance to prevent it from getting in deeper, spreading over a larger area, or scratching the shoe surface.

Note: You may also use microfiber instead of a cotton cloth. It’s a great alternative because it can trap abrasive dirt, which can scratch your shoes.


Regular Shoe Cleaning and Care Tips

Of course, you can (and should) regularly clean your designer shoes. This will help keep them looking good for as long as possible.

Regular cleaning and care can also extend your shoes’ lifespan. This applies to exceptionally crafted shoes made of fine raw materials (e.g., full-grain leather).

Your designer shoe-cleaning strategies will vary depending on the type of shoes you’re cleaning. Specifically, leather shoes call for a different approach than suede and rubber.

Here is a list of the top tips on how to clean designer shoes.


Top Tips on How to Clean Leather Shoes

The following are some tips on how to care for expensive leather shoes.

  1. Keep Them Stuffed

Stuff your leather shoes full with cloth or paper so they can keep their shape as you clean them.


  1. Use a Horsehair Brush

Use only a horsehair brush with your leather shoes. Horsehair bristles are ideal because they clean without scratching the leather.

With a horsehair brush, you can remove loose dust and particles from the shoe surface and crevices.


  1. Use a Lightly Damp Cloth

Very lightly moisten a soft cloth and use it to wipe down the surface of the shoes. Do this only after you’ve already removed the loose particles through brushing.


  1. Apply Shoe Polish Occasionally

Apply leather shoe polish, but only infrequently and if necessary. Designer leather shoes will require only once-in-a-while polishing.

Use transparent or color-matched polish, and apply it with your fingers. 

Use just enough product to cover the surface, and do not saturate the leather. After the shoe polish application, let it dry for approximately ten minutes, then buff the leather with a horsehair brush; use a different brush from your dust buster. Finish by wiping off excess polish with a cloth.


  1. Apply Leather Conditioner

Use a leather conditioner to nourish the leather and help your shoes remain supple.

Generally, the more often you wear your shoes, the more frequently you must condition them (say, once every 10 uses). If it’s hot where you live — extreme heat can dry out leather quicker — or if it’s winter, when the sidewalks may be salted, you should condition your shoes twice as frequently — say, after every five uses.

Use only a high-quality leather conditioner. Five minutes after application, buff the leather with a horsehair brush; do not use your shoe polish buffing brush.


  1. Polish or Condition Only Clean and Dry Shoes

Make sure to apply leather conditioner only to clean but dry shoes.


Top Tips on How to Clean Suede and Nubuck Leather Shoes

Suede is also a type of leather, but it is made from split leather. This is the leather left over after the top (outer) layer and the bottom (inner layer) are split or separated.

Nubuck leather is more expensive than suede because it is made from top leather, not the inner layer (i.e., split leather). However, it looks and feels like suede because it undergoes the same procedure split leather does to produce suede.

Suede is typically made of lambskin but can also be made from calf, pig, deer, and goat skin. Nubuck, meanwhile, is usually made from cowhide.

Suede and nubuck are difficult to clean. If you stain your suede or nubuck leather shoes, it’s best to leave stain removal to a shoe cleaning service. Nubuck, in particular, scratches easily.

For regular cleaning, follow these tips.


  1. Stuff Them

Stuff your shoes full of paper or fabric to help them keep their shape when you clean them.


  1. Use a Suede Brush

Regularly buff your suede or nubuck shoes with a suede brush to eliminate trapped dirt, dust, and debris. Initially, you can brush against the nap (i.e., the surface or the grain), but finish brushing in the nap’s natural direction to restore the smooth finish on the surface.


  1. Spray With a Waterproofing Solution

Suede or nubuck has fine fibers. When these get wet and then subsequently dry, they become stiff and brittle, break off, and permanently damage the leather.

To prevent this from happening, apply waterproofing spray on your suede and nubuck shoes. Do this before the first time you use your shoes and once every two to four weeks or, if you use your shoes more frequently, once water stops beading on the surface. 

Apply only a moderate amount; never use so much product it soaks the leather.


Top Tips on How to Clean Designer Sneakers

Regular rubber shoes can go in the washer. 

How about a pair of Louis Vuitton Run 55 sneakers, which are made of a mix of materials, including mesh, rubber, canvas, and leather (suede, plain, or laminated, depending on the version)?

Follow these tips to clean designer sneakers. 

  1. Spot-Clean Where Needed

Use an old toothbrush to scrape off globs of dirt and brush.

Once the worst of the debris is out, you may dip a soft cloth or a clean toothbrush in a water-detergent mixture and use it to spot-wash any stubborn spots on the mesh or rubber.

Once you’re done, use another damp cloth (dipped in just water this time) to rinse off any traces of the detergent.

Note: Don’t use detergent on special materials like suede and leather. You need a special suede shampoo to spot-clean suede leather shoes and use just plain water (but very sparingly) on leather. If unsure, let a professional shoe cleaner handle the job.


  1. Handwash

If you must wash your sneakers, hand wash them instead of putting them in the washer. 

Again, do not do this to non-mesh sneakers and those made with non-fabric or delicate materials. You might irreversibly damage your shoes or their leather toppers and accents. 

For these, professional dry cleaning may be better.


The Best Way to Clean Designer Shoes

Dirt stuck on the rubber soles of your designer shoes? You should easily be able to scrape that off. For the rest, regular spot-cleaning and care should keep your shoes clean enough. 

However, if your luxury shoes have become a little dingy from wear and you want them looking brand new (e.g., you want your white sneakers white again), seek professional help.

A professional shoe care service can remove nasty stains on your designer shoes without damaging them. So, the next time you need your expensive shoes cleaned, find a designer shoe cleaner near you.

Washmen is a professional laundry, dry cleaning and shoe cleaning service in Dubai, and we can help restore your designer shoes to their former glory. 

Get our app and schedule your shoe pickup now.

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