Owning a pair of high-quality leather shoes can be a great long-term investment. While leather is known for its polished look and for being a durable material for shoes, particularly dress shoes, leather isn’t completely invincible. Although it can withstand a great deal of daily use, leather shoes can still get scratched and scuffed.
The good news is, there are a few things you can do to fix scuffs and scratches on your leather shoes without having to replace them or take them to a cobbler. Keep these approaches in mind if you are looking to restore the look of your leather shoes and to make sure your scratches and scuffs are gone for good.
How to Clean Leather
Before you repair any scratch on your leather shoes, you need to clean them properly. Look at the tag on the shoe or on the shoe box to determine whether the leather is finished or unfinished. Most leather shoes are treated, if they are untreated, you will need to get a specialty cleaner that can handle untreated leather.
Remove stains or caked-on dirt with a soft brush then wipe the shoes clean with a clean, soft cloth. Wipe along the entire surface of the leather. Dampen the cloth with clean water and wipe it them a final time along the grain of the leather. If the leather is untreated, do this with saddle soap, not with water. Allow your shoes to dry. Rub them clean one more time and you are ready for repairs.
Quick Fixes for Minor Scuffs
If you have a minor scuff in the leather of your shoe and need to repair it quickly, try these easy yet effective solutions for getting your shoes looking like new again.
If you are looking for a quick yet effective fix for your minor shoe scuffs, then consider using a hairdryer to restore the look of your shoes. This method is best for minor scuffs and marks not for stains or deep scratches. Put the hairdryer on a warm heat setting and blow it over the scuffed surface. Use your hands to gently massage the warmed leather, or buff with a soft cloth. You will find the motion along with the heat will slowly start to reduce the appearance of the scuffs on your shoes.
A good rule of thumb is if the air is uncomfortable on your hands, then it is too hot for the leather, and you will need to change to a lower setting.
If you have petroleum jelly around your house, use a clean cloth to apply it to the scuffed area along your shoes. Simply apply a generous amount to your soft cloth and start rubbing it in circular motions to your scuffed shoe. Let the jelly sit for about 10 minutes and then wipe the excess off.
If you are using petroleum jelly, be sure to check the label and make certain the product does not have any color or fragrance added as this can damage the leather.
White vinegar is a safe and natural way to clean many household items as well as leather. Put a small about of distilled white vinegar on a cotton ball and gently apply a generous amount over the scuff in your leather. Once the treated area has dried, go back over with a colorless shoe polish and buff the area until the scuff is gone.
There are several leather repair and treatment products that you can find from home improvement and fabric stores. You can use a leather cleaner and apply the cleaner in a circular buffing motion in order to treat the scuffed area. This will only work with very minor scuffs and minor stains that may look like scuffs, but many times it is enough to get rid of surface imperfections. You should always try a leather cleaner first before trying other products meant to recolor, treat or stain leather as the cleaner will actually open up the pores of your leather and make it easier for other products to soak in.
Leather markers, similar to the wood markers used to treat wood scratches and scuffs are also available to help recolor scuffs and marks in the shoes and to make them look brand new again.
A recoloring balm is an easy product to use in order to buff away surface scuffs. You just apply and rub in a circular motion, let it sit and then buff the area clean to remove excess balm. The balm will help stain the color of the scuffed area, so it matches the existing color of your shoe.
With more severe scuffs, you can actually use a sharp tool and some leather glue to repair the area. This is a delicate process, so it is important that you read the instructions first on how to safely and effectively apply the leather glue to the area. Once you have done this, you can also use a leather marker to color in the damaged area to make it look seamless against your existing shoe.
How to Fix Dark Scuffs From Leather Shoes
When you are dealing with dark scuffs on leather shoes, you can take a few different approaches to remove these scuffs and to get your shoes looking brand new again. Here are some of the different approaches you can use.
Toothpaste actually works great on scuffs that appear on leather or patent leather shoes. It also works on synthetic leather as well. Just use a dab of toothpaste and on a toothbrush and start scrubbing at the scuff marks. As you start to scrub, add more water to your toothpaste so that a foam begins to build. Continue scrubbing until the scuff is gone, wipe off the excess toothpaste and let the shoe dry.
This approach will work on all leather shoes, but it is particularly useful on suede shoes, which are notoriously difficult to clean. All you need to do is to gently rub the eraser over the scuff and work carefully not to damage the fabric. As remnants of the rubber eraser start to come off, gently wipe them away with a dry cloth. Brush away any rubber waste and repeat until the scuff is gone.
There are several commercial products that can be used to remove scuffs on leather shoes. In addition to products, you can also invest in a shoe brush or even specialty leather shoe wipes, which are great for cleaning scuffs on-the-go. Shoe polish, of course, can always help to revitalize leather and soften up scuff marks to keep the shoe looking new again.
However, in addition to shoe-specific products, you can also use the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on shoe scuffs to remove these imperfections.
Fixing Major Scratches in Leather Shoes
Many times, buffing and cleaning scratches in leather shoes (similar to the way you clean scuffs) will take away from the severity of the imperfection. Here’s the easiest way to remove these major scratches and to get your shoes looking like new again.
- Remove any excess leather from around the scratch. If you have a lot of extra leather, you can cut away the excess pieces, or with minor leather, you can sand away with a fine grit sandpaper. Wipe the area clean once the excess leather has been removed
- Apply a shoe wax into the scratched area filling the hole. Look for a soft wax. If you can’t find a soft wax, you can melt the wax you have by putting it in a spoon and heating the bottom of the spoon or microwaving the wax until it is soft and easier to work with.
- The best way to apply is with your finger. Make sure that you work the wax into the hole and buff over the area to create a smooth surface. Some people prefer to burn away the excess wax, but buffing is a safer option if you are not comfortable with burning.
- Once the wax has dried, test the area to make sure that it doesn’t rub off.
- Take a leather maker and cover the area, especially the edges, so the repaired scratch looks seamless against the hole.
- Apply a layer of leather cream polish on top of the repair to keep consistency and look of the leather the same.
If the scratches are lighter, and not so heavy, clean them using one of the scuff-removing tactics listed above. Then, apply several layers of polish, allowing each layer to dry between application as a great way to repair to look of your leather shoes.