Leather shoes are luxurious because they're stylish, well-crafted and last a long time. To keep them at their best, they should be protected and cleaned properly. All colors of leather can be cleaned the same way, but tan leather shoes need a small adjustment in final polishing.

With a soft shoe brush, gently brush away any dirt, dust and debris from all areas of the shoe, including the leather and the sole. It's essential to use a soft shoe brush and not a regular brush, because anything with tough bristles could scratch the leather. If you don't have a shoe brush, then you can use a soft cloth.

Mix warm water and about 1/2 tablespoon of saddle soap in a small bowl.

Using a soft cotton cloth, scrub the shoes gently with the water and saddle soap mixture wherever there are scuffs or scratches on the leather. A few minutes of rubbing with the cloth and soap should smooth away scuffs and scratches that aren't set too deep into the leather. Deep scuffs or scratches need to be fixed by a professional.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of tan waterproofing leather shoe polish to a clean cotton cloth and gently apply it to the leather. If it's the first time you're polishing the shoes, apply a tiny amount to an area of the shoe that's not easily noticed. Let the polish fully dry in that one area to make sure that the polish works well with your shoe color. Be sure to apply the shoe polish evenly.

After polishing, let the shoes dry for a few hours before wearing them.


Clean leather shoes only once a month unless they're extraordinarily dirty. Over-cleaning could ultimately damage the shoes.


Always test a new polish on tan shoes. The wrong color polish shows more clearly on a tan shoe than on darker leather.

About the Author

Jessica Jewell

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.