With some basic maintenance, your loafers can provide years of enjoyment. Loafers have remained an iconic casual and formal footwear option since the style was invented in Norway in 1930. Of course, that look only works if you keep your shoes looking crisp and clean. Fortunately, caring for your leather loafers is simple as long as you have the right tools and a little know-how.
1. Gather Your Supplies
Before getting started, make sure you have a kit with some basic shoe cleaning supplies. Here are the essentials:
- A horsehair brush
- A polishing cloth (an old t-shirt works)
- Leather shoe conditioner
- Protective wax or cream
2. Stuff the Loafers With Newspaper
While this practice is typically reserved for suede shoes, it never hurts to be extra cautious. Simply crumple up pieces of newspaper, and stuff your loafers. This helps your shoes to hold their shape while you clean, while also preventing cleaning products from getting inside your shoes.
3. Remove Dust and Dirt
Before applying any product, you want the surface of your shoes to be completely free of dirt, dust, and any other debris. Use your horsehair brush to thoroughly and vigorously remove any particles. Be sure to dig deep in the welt—the area where the shoe meets the sole.
Finish this preparatory step by wiping the entire shoe with a damp cloth and then again with a dry cloth. You can use saddle soap or a mild-sudsing cleanser if the shoe is very dirty, but usually, just the damp cloth and dry cloth will do the job.
4. Apply Conditioner
Now that your shoes are clean, it’s time to condition the leather. After five minutes of air drying, apply small drops of conditioner to the shoe, and use your polishing cloth to massage the conditioner into the leather using circular motions. Do this to the entire shoe, and then wait five minutes or so for the leather to absorb the conditioner. Now buff the shoes with the horsehair brush to really make your loafers shine.
5. Protect the Leather
When it comes to men’s fashion accessories, shoes tend to rank at the top in the hierarchy of importance. Naturally, once you find the perfect pair, you don’t want to have to replace them until it’s absolutely necessary. Applying a protective wax or cream helps to prevent damage from the elements, extending the lifespan of your loafers. Simply choose your preferred product, and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Don’t Forget Regular Maintenance
You shouldn’t need to perform this whole routine more than once per month, possibly even less depending on how often and where you wear them. That said, it never hurts to do some quick brushing and cleaning to keep your kicks looking immaculate. Just incorporate a quick once-over into your grooming routine once a week or so—make it a habit. Finally, if you ever need to remove a minor spot, a pencil eraser can often work wonders in a pinch!
Jennifer Oppenheim is the CEO of Just Men’s Shoes, a company that offers the widest variety of shoes for men for all occasions.