Apr 8, 2009

Shoe Care: Washing/Cleaning Leather Shoes

Last week I commented how my sister's beige Chanel flats looked different, somewhat cleaner than before. SO, she told me she washed her Chanel ballet flats. What? Is she crazy? Apparently she saw a show which a shoe/bag specialist demonstrated how he would go about cleaning a pair of leather flats. Since her Chanel beige/black flats had became quite dirty, she decided she would be willing to risk the damage rather than looking at her dirty flats. So following her advice, I washed my orange Tod's flats. This is the pre-wash flats. As you can see, there are dirty spots around various places on the shoes. So what did I do?

Basically Savvy Sis filled a basin with cold water and added a small amount of mild detergent to create soap water. She basically put her Chanel flats in the soapy water and clean the surface with baby wipes.

I didn't have the nerve to put my Tod's in soap water completely so I mixed the same soapy water in a basin but washed my flats with wet clean soft cloth all over. Of course, I paid extra attention to dirty spots. To clean the soap off, I just rinsed my shoes with cold water.
As you can see, my flats are wet thoroughly! I was kinda scared initially but I already washed the shoes and could only hope for the best. Why did I listen to Savvy Sis? But then, how bad can it be? Right!
Above picture is pre-wash and bottom picture, post-wash. I was not able to get all the spots off but most of the dirty areas became less obvious or cleaned. However, in case of my Tod's shoes, the color became a little darker than before instead of the brighter orange.
Afterward I dried my shoes for 24 hours in the patio. I applied leather conditioner on the surface to polish leather surface to a shine. It's important to dry washed shoes/sneakers out of direct sunlight. It's better to dry them in areas where there is air flow and no direct sunlight.
With this instance, leather color became darker. But with Tod's shoes, I noticed light color leather would become darker even if I just polish with shoe polish/conditioner. I am okay my orange flat became slightly darker because there are less dirty spots. I still have not tried washing my Chanel flats yet, but I will one of these days. I will keep everyone posted. I am just getting to that point where I am willing to risk my beige Chanel flats instead of looking at a pair of dirty flats too.

So have you washed your leather shoes before?

***I recommend trying on a pair you don't care for much before washing a favorite pair of shoes. OR, consult a shoe/bag expert first before washing.


  1. I washed once time, my white leather flats, in machine. :)
    I LOVE those shoes, and I love that color!


  2. I think I will leave the washing to the experts.

  3. No I haven't washed any of my leather flats..., didn't know I could (not with water anyway). Love your orange flats!

  4. I am notorious for bad shoe care. I have no clue what to do haha!

    Trisch xo

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hate getting my shoes dirty, because I'll admit...I'm not the best at cleaning anything! I will definitely bookmark this post.

    Thank you for checking out my new blog, that means a lot :)

  6. I would be too scared. I leave all shoe treatments to professionals.

  7. Great post...I have been way too scared! Be sure to show us how your Chanel flats go!

  8. Great post! Usually my route is to only wear my light colored shoes on absolutely dry, clean days, and only on clean pavement lol.

    Btw, thanks for visiting my blog :) Too bad about what you said about the tote, the picture makes it look so good.

  9. interesting tip. i just try to do preventative care. spraying before wearing and using leather lotion.
    but when i used to wear sneakers (when i was a kid), white leather ones, i used to wash them with dish soap and water. and it cleaned it pretty well.


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