The proper way to clean your shoes: with tips from the pros

shoe

Walter's Shoe Care shoe shine booth Adidas

Learn the proper way to clean your shoes in this definitive guide to shoe cleaning.

Not sure which products you need? Or if it’s better to invest in a shoe care kit, or purchase individual items?

We’ll help you find the products you need, and teach you to shine your shoes like a pro, with tips from our roster of talented shoe shiners. Here are some quick tips.

TIPS FROM THE PROS

  • Always remove your shoe’s laces before cleaning to prevent polish from getting on them.
  • Use products sparingly; a little goes a long way. Plus, you’ll get more uses out of the bottle.
  • Use swift hand motions, with a moderate amount of pressure. Scrubbing too hard will damage the material.

shoe sneaker cleaning

WHERE TO GET A PROFESSIONAL SHOE SHINE

Would you rather have a pro take care of it? Walter’s Shoe Shine Booths can be found in airports across Canada, serving millions of travellers each year. We’re also involved in various events and pop-ups throughout Toronto and Montreal. Follow us on Instagram for updates.

sneaker shoe foot


THE PROPER WAY TO CLEAN YOUR SHOES, BY MATERIAL (listed A-Z)

We’ve outlined the best way to care for your shoes, and categorized our care instructions by material type. You’ll find product recommendations to ensure the best results. If you’re unsure what material your shoes are made from, simply check the shoe box, or the interior of the shoe (on the tongue or on the inner side) for care information.

LEATHER

Leather is one of the most common shoe materials. It is flexible, durable, and forms to the foot like no other shoe material can. On the downside, untreated leather is vulnerable to water damage, so make sure you’re properly caring for your shoes.

What You Need: Leather Kit

Use It For: Men’s dress shoes, designer heels, cowboy boots

RUBBER

Rubber is a low maintenance material. Give your rubber boots a quick wipe and they’ll look just like new again.

What You Need: Clean Wipes

Use It For: Rubber boots, Hunter boots

SUEDE AND NUBUCK

Both suede and nubuck are delicate types of leather. Suede is a soft, thin and pliable leather with a napped finish, while nubuck is a buffed leather with a velvety-like feel. Nubuck is thicker and stronger than suede, making it a slightly more expensive material. Because these materials are so absorbent, they tend to get dirty quickly.

What You Need: Suede Kit

Use It For: Boots, dress shoes

SYNTHETICS

white sneaker made of synthetic materials

Synthetic leather is a two-layer man-made composite. The top layer is an external surface material, which is adhered to a back layer of polyester fibres. Most common in sneakers, synthetics are affordable, however they break down more quickly compared to other materials.

What You Need: Sneaker Kit

Use It For: Running shoes

TEXTILE

white Converse sneaker high top

Cotton, polyester, wool, and nylon are the most common textiles. Variations include fibre type, fabric weight, weaves, and knits.

What You Need: Sneaker Kit

Use It For: Converse sneakers, tennis shoes

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