How to repair scuffed leather shoes
If you have a pair of leather dress shoes that you wear a lot, then either you have already seen those dreaded scuff marks, or you’re anticipating them happening.
It’s easily done…
An uneven step and suddenly the tip of your shoe scrapes a sharp edge, or they accidentally get stepped on during a long train commute home. The ways and means of scuffs appearing on leather shoes are endless. But the question is; how to get rid of scuff marks on leather shoes? This question is particularly important if you have accumulated a few of them.
Well, as bad as they look, with the right means and a little skill, almost all of them can be eliminated.
Here we will show you how to remove scuffs from leather shoes in three different ways, depending on the scratches on your leather shoe, choose the right one for you.
How to Clean Leather
The first thing you need to do, before repairing any scratch, is to give the shoe a thorough clean.
It’s a good idea, at this stage, to check whether your leather shoes are treated or untreated. For untreated aniline (untreated) leather shoes you will need to get a specific cleaner, so skip to method 2.
Find a shoe brush, a nice high quality one. The best ones are made with horse hair, like the ones found in Maximillion shoe repair kit. Horse hair brushes are firm enough to slough of the grime, but soft enough to ensure the leather remains in tip-top condition.
With brush in hand, get brushing.
This removes any dirt, dust and impurities, which helps prep the leather giving it an even surface. Once brushed, dampen a cloth with water and wipe the shoes following the grain of the leather.
As a water-based cleaner, leather cleaner wipes are able to effectively remove surface dirt and grime. They are also good for the following reasons:
- They are gentle enough to be used with treated and untreated leather shoes. However, these are not suitable for suede leather and nubuck
- Leather cleaner wipes are pH balanced which helps maintain the soft suppleness of the leather
- They clean streak free, never depositing those residues that attract dust
- Leather cleaning wipes help maintain the natural sheen of the leather, leaving an attractive oily gloss.
How to remove scuff marks from leather shoes
This method to repair leather shoes can be used when the scratches on the leather are more substantial. This is a great way to transform tattered and tired looking leather shoes, and make them look brand new again.
Shoe polish cream for scuffs
If you want that professional finish then shoe polish cream is a good place to start. This can be bought in a variety of colors, but in the image we are using some dark brown to match our shoe. Basically, you want the cream to be as close to the color of your shoe as possible.
With a cloth, take a small dab of the shoe polish cream and apply it on the toe – or wherever else the scratch may be. At this point, you really need to work it into the scuffed area. Keep polishing the cream into the shoe until you see the scuff marks “smooth” out.
How the shoe cream works is by staining the leather to the color you want it to be. When scuffs appear on leather shoes, it’s because the outer layer of wax and polish has been scraped off, revealing the unfinished leather underneath. So when you apply the shoe cream you are essentially “re-sanding” the leather back to its finished state.
Once you are done polishing the shoe cream into your shoe, leave the shoe for a few hours to dry.
Shoe wax polish
The shoe wax is what really fixes the scuff, while the shoe cream gets the scuff to the color you want, it’s the wax that actually fills in the gaps. Get some dark brown or black (depending on the shoe color) shoe wax polish. We recommend high quality wax like Maxmillion, or any other good quality brand you can find.
It’s advised that you use a little water and dampen a cloth, before dipping it into the wax. After this, apply directly to the shoe, focusing on the area where the scuff was. Once done, let the leather shoe dry with the wax for a while (half an hour should be fine), then take a dried cloth and give it a thorough buffing. This will work the wax into the shoe and give it a nice shine.
Scuff marks on shoes – quick fixes
As annoying as seeing scuff marks on leather shoes are, there are times when they are not deep or big enough to warrant any major work. In these cases, a quick repair is probably all you will need.
Below we provide some simple, yet effective solutions to get your shoes back to their best.
Heat the scuffed surface with a hair dryer
Changes in temperature effect leather, just like it would our own skin. The moment leather is heated up it becomes more pliable, this enables you to merge uneven surfaces together.
Simply put the scratched area under a hair dryer. Take it easy with this and make sure you use a low setting, anything hotter and the leather could become scorched or warped. Think of it this way, if you can’t comfortably hold your hand under the hairdryer, it has no business being anywhere near your leather shoe.
Once you have sufficiently heated the leather surface with your hair dryer, use a cloth (a clean one) to massage the leather in circular motions. At this point, you can be a little firmer with your application.
What you are doing here is massaging and softening those scuffed edges. As you continue to handle the leather, the shoe dye from the surrounding areas will seep into the scuffed areas. This alone can be enough to diminish the scuffs or even make them vanish altogether.
Complete the job by applying a decent leather conditioner and sit back and admire your handy work. In case you wondering what to pair those nifty shoes with, take a look at our article on the best shoes to wear with jeans
Petroleum jelly and scuff marks
Aside from using heat to remove scuff marks, did you know that petroleum jelly can help remove them too? This method is especially useful if the scuffs cover a larger area.
To start just apply petroleum jelly to the scuff. The petroleum helps to moisturize the leather, making the scuff marks appear richer in color. This, in turn, helps them to match the surrounding leather. Take note that this method does not work with all types of leather; suede leather, nubuck and untreated leather being some examples.
How To Protect Your Leather From Damage
Aside from the ability to repair scuff marks on leather shoes, it makes sense to know how to protect them so they incur as little damage as possible. Below are some ways to keep those dress shoes looking sharp as a tack, and they are easy to implement.
- Resist using water on grease stains, the stains should simply be wiped off the leather surface with a cloth
- Excessive exposure to sun is the primary reason that fades leather over time, so never leave your leather shoes out in the sunlight too long.
- Stay away from abrasive and harsh cleaners with your leather shoes, as these may damage the surface.
- While they may be good for skin, using baby wipes on leather shoes may damage the finish. Instead, if you want to quickly clean them, use leather cleaner wipes.
- When cleaning always use a product designed for use on the material, a general leather cleaner will not be as effective on a suede or nubuck interior than a cleaner specifically designed for suede & nubuck.