Pros and cons of DIY leather care

Collage for DIY leather cleaning - has knight's armour and tools

One of my customers recently asked me NOT to clean and shine his shoes. I was confused. These are complimentary services when I re-heel or re-sole footwear. Most people take me up on it.

I must have looked puzzled because he followed up his request with a rather sheepish admission: He loves to spend time on weekends cleaning, conditioning, and shining his footwear. He finds it relaxing.  I was touched. I immediately knew we were kindred spirits.

For me, caring for nice leather footwear and accessories is part of the fun of having them. It’s one of the reasons I was drawn to leather work and shoe repair. With proper care your items look better, feel better, and last longer.

If you’re the type of person who likes to do your own leather care, you already know that it can be a deeply satisfying hands-on experience. I have many customers, however, who are very hesitant to take care of their own leather goods. And I have to admit, I’ve seen some really bad outcomes when customers thought they were doing the right thing, but they weren’t. Sometimes there’s no coming back from a bad leather care mistake.

Cleaning, polishing, conditioning, and waterproofing are all things that can be done at home.  But here’s the crux of it, the “Pro” and the “Con” depending on your point of view: You have to know what you’re doing. And like anything else, it takes time to gather knowledge and gain experience. If you love learning new things and you like working with your hands, leather care will probably be fun for you. If, on the other hand, the very thought of taking care of your leather items makes you feel anxious or disgusted, leave it to a professional.

Watch this space for pointers on proper care and maintenance for your leather goods. It’s really pretty easy once you know the basics. A few important steps can ensure that you won’t have to do some really tricky cleaning and refinishing work down the road. You might even find a new way to relax.