Female shoes from a brilliant leather on a white background image by terex from Fotolia.com

To make patent leather, manufacturers apply a varnish or lacquer in the final stage of the tanning process. This produces a material that is so shiny, you could see your reflection. While patent leather shoes are certainly fashionable, it's easy to scuff them, ruining their appeal. With proper care, you can keep your black patent leather shoes clean and looking great.

Wash off dirt and grime with soap and water. Place a small amount of mild soap, such as dish washing detergent onto a wet wash cloth. Wipe the shoes all over to remove the dirt. If the dirt has dried on, you may need to scrub certain areas a littler harder.

Clean scuff marks with nail polish remover. If you have scuff marks on your shoes from bumping into something, you can put a bit of nail polish remover onto the wash cloth and gently scrub the area. The scuff should come right off.

Shine the shoes with mineral oil. Naturally, you want your patent leather shoes to maintain their shine. While you can purchase a commercial patent leather cleaner from a shoe store, you can also do this with mineral oil--such as baby oil or makeup remover. Put a small bit on the wash cloth and wipe it over the whole shoe.


If a scuff mark isn't coming off, you can use a black felt tip marker to get rid of it. Simply draw on a damp paper towel with the marker and rub the scuffed area.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.