Shoe trees:

Shoe trees are crucial. They allow your recently worn shoes to contract and dry out to their ideal shape — but only if you choose the less decorative unvarnished ones. Varnished trees look posh, but they don't properly draw moisture — i.e., sweat — out of the leather.

Top marks go to unfinished cedar models with a split toe and a fully shaped heel (like ours): These ensure the closest possible fit between shoe and tree.

Also, there's no need to own a pair of trees for each pair of shoes. The vital time for using them is the hour or two after you have removed the shoes from your feet. After that, the shoes will have returned to their natural architecture and the trees can be removed.

Conditioning leather shoes:

Conditioning your leather shoes will help soften and moisturize the leather, and protect it from drying out and cracking. Certain types of leather, and shoes worn in dryer climates might need to be conditioned more often. Some shoe cleaning products will clean and condition your shoes, but if you want your shoes to get the full treatment, or use a product specifically for cleaning, the next step is to condition your smooth leather shoes. Of course, you'll want a conditioner made for the specific type of shoe you're working on. Also, look for a natural conditioner (we recommend SAPHIR) that is absorbed into the material of the shoe, as opposed to a synthetic conditioner that sits on top of the surface. Rub small amounts of conditioner into the shoe, until the entire shoe has been covered with conditioner. After a couple of minutes, wipe any remaining conditioner off of the shoes, as the leather will only absorb what it can.

Special leathers - Suede:

Suede shoes are in a category of their own, since you cannot polish away any scuff marks. Use a suede eraser (basically a brick of crumbly rubber) to rub away small blemishes. Then use a suede brush to restore the nap, or fuzz, of the leather.

How to polish a shoe:

  • 1. Wipe your shoes down with a damp cloth to remove superficial dirt and stains.
  • 2. Wet the welt brush and scrub out the entire welt strip.
  • 3. Apply polish (we recommend SAPHIR) & water drops with a cotton cloth, using a circular rubbing motion.
  • You don't need to slather it on. You don't need to be gentle. And the more you rub, the better. Let the polish dry. It should take about 30 minutes.
  • 4. Buff the entire shoe with a polishing brush. For extra gleam, hold the shoe between your knees and buff the toe vigorously with a lint-free cloth.