How to Rehydrate Cracked Dress Shoes

Once a crack becomes a rip, there's no going back.
... Jupiterimages/ Images

Deconstruction isn't all it's cracked up to be -- particularly when the cracks steal the flair from your footwear. If you favor tiptop shine from top to toes, whether you're dressing to the nines, to the trends or just to impress, don't let your style fall through the cracks in your shoes. Moisturizing isn't just for your skin -- restrict and rehabilitate unfashionable fissures in your dehydrated leather lovelies with a little conditioning rejuvenation.

  • Clean cotton cloths
  • Leather brush
  • Saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner or preservative
  • Paste, wax or cream leather polish
  • Leather weatherproofing spray
  • Soft bristle shoe brush
  • Mild liquid soap

1 Luxurious Leather

Dust any dirt or residue from the shoes with a leather brush. Wipe down the surface with a damp cotton cloth to remove any remaining dirt.

Open a container of saddle soap, then vigorously rub the corner of a damp cloth into it to create a lather. Work the soapy cloth into the shoe leather in small circles.

Wipe away all traces of soap with a clean, damp cotton cloth. Wipe finished leather shoes with a dry cloth, and let unfinished leather shoes air dry.

Select a leather conditioner for finished leather shoes and a leather preservative for unfinished leather shoes. Rub a small amount of the product into the surface of the shoe in small circles with a dry cloth, then wipe away the excess product and let the shoes dry for 24 hours.

Wrap a dry cloth around your index and middle finger, then scoop out a small amount of paste, wax or cream polish from the container. Work the polish into the shoe leather with the cloth, and let it dry for 10 minutes.

Buff the shoes with a clean cloth in slow, small circles. Coat each shoe with a weatherproofing leather spray, and let them dry completely.

2 Patent Leather

Dust any clumps of dirt or mud from patent leather shoes with a soft bristle shoe brush. Mix a mild liquid soap into water and dampen a cotton cloth, then wipe down any remaining dirt. Let the shoes dry for 48 hours.

Dampen a cloth and rub it into a container of saddle soap to create a lather. Rub the soap against the shoes in small circles, then wipe it away with a clean, damp cloth. Let the shoes air dry completely.

Rub leather conditioner into the shoes with a dry cloth. Wipe up the excess and let the shoes dry for 24 hours.

Polish the shoes with a dry cloth and a matching paste, wax or cream polish. Work in small circles, let the polish dry for 10 minutes, then buff the shoes with a clean cloth.

  • Never use saddle soap on cordovan leather.
  • Do not leave saddle soap residue on leather, as it will dry out and crack further.
  • Condition suede or nubuck with a damp suede bar, then brush it with a rubber bristle brush to raise the nap.

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.