Can leather shoes be washed?

by Taymoor Malik on Nov 27, 2023

Can leather shoes be washed?

When it comes to shoes, leather shoes are the perfect pick because of their elegant look, which makes them a timeless fashion staple. However, shoes go through a lot of wear and tear and have to endure a lot, meaning that if you don’t take good care of them, they get dirty and lose all of their charm.

However, when faced with inevitable stains and scuffs that come with daily wear, there are many people who wonder can leather shoes be washed? Well, the short answer to this query is yes, leather shoes can indeed be washed. However, when you are washing them, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. You cannot just put your leather shoes under running water, or wash them like you’d wash any other thing.

When you wash leather shoes, there is an entire procedure that you need to follow. So, let us now dive into how-to wash-leather shoes.

First off, understand the type of leather

The most fundamental aspect is first determining the kind of leather your leather shoes are made up of. There are different kinds of leathers and all of them will react differently to cleaning. As leather is a natural material, its characteristics and features can actually vary depending on the type of animal hide, finish and tanning process.

The most common kinds of leather are full-grain leather, top-grain leather, nubuck and suede. When it comes to the highest quality of leather that is the most durable, it is for sure full0grain. However, top-grain needs to be sanded or buffed to remove the imperfections or flaws that may arise due to prolonged use. On the other hand, suede is mostly just used for loafers and sneakers. However, nubuck is quite similar to suede, but the difference is that it also needs to be sanded to create a finer nap.

Can we wash leather shoes?

Let us move onto the real question of whether or not leather shoes can be washed? Yes, they can be, like we said above but the problem is that you will need to incorporate a proper washing routine to clean your leather shoes.

To first clean your shoes, you need to start off by seeing the type of leather your shoes are made of. Depending on the type of leather, you will have a different routine, this means that while most of the steps will be same, the difference will be in the products you are using. There are products in the market that are available for different types of leathers, so, to ensure that your shoes last long, you need products that perfectly match the type of leather your shoes are made of.

How to clean leather shoes?

Well, we have already seen that leather shoes can be washed. The next question here is how to wash your shoes? To start off, you first need to gather your supplies, which include toothbrush or a brush with soft bristles, water, conditioner, clean cloth, leather cleaner or newspaper.

The first step here is to remove loose dirt and debris from the shoe. For this purpose, you will use a soft bristle brush and gently scrub the surface. Do not apply too much force as that will ruin your shoe, but it is essential that you brush off the loose dirt because it will prevent the dirt from being ground into the leather during the cleaning process.

Then, you need to see whether the products suit your shoe or not. To do this, you should test the product on a hidden area, this way if something is wrong you will find it out first, but without damaging your shoe in such a way that it is noticeable and visible to other people. The goal here is to put the product on the area and then wait for the test area to dry to see if there is any adverse effects.

Once you have seen that the product suits your shoes and won’t cause any harm, you need to prepare a cleaning solution. Here, you mix the leather cleaner with water and to do this, you need to read the instructions, or you could simply use a mix of mild soap and water. Do not use harsh chemicals as they will ruin your shoe and damage the leather.

After that, you need to dip a clean cloth or sponge into the solution and wring it out to avoid excess moisture. Then, gently rub the leather surface, and while doing so, pay extra attention to stained or soiled areas.

If there is a stain that is too stubborn, use a brush to agitate the stain, but again do not be too harsh. Then, the last step is to rinse, or to wipe the shoe with a clean cloth to remove cleaner residue. Once this is done, try using a separate cloth to dry the shoe.

Lastly, condition the leather to keep the leather supple and prevent it from cracking or drying out.


Leather shoes can be washed, and is quite a misconception amongst people who think that washing leather shoes will dry them out. With the right technique and products, you will have shiny shoes without any adverse impacts.