Herring Shoes

How to care for your shoes

7 October 2019

You have made the decision to buy a pair of Herring Shoes. Now you need to care for them. 

An investment in a pair of quality shoes is not just financial, you need to invest your time too. I am talking about caring for your shoes.

I have already given you advice on shoe trees in my recent blog Wooden shoe trees are essential, so this blog will focus purely on polishing and brushing, We will split shoe care into two categories: leather and suede, but there are some elements that apply to both materials.

Step 1: Remove the laces so you do not get any polish on them and you can polish around the eyelet area. 

Step 2: Insert your shoe trees as they will push any creasing out while you are polishing, so the polish does not build up and dry out in the creases.

Leather shoe care
Prepare the leather by making sure there’s no loose dirt on the shoes. Brush the shoes back and forth. Try and work in the welt area too. You do not need to brush them very hard; just use a light to medium action until they are free from dirt.

If your shoes are looking a little battered, you may need to use a renovating cream. It will help nourish and clean the leather a little. 

Then select a polish that matches the colour of your shoes. We can advise you on this. Apply the polish with a cloth using a small circular motion starting from the toes, to the sides and around the shoe to the heel. 

Leave the polish for a minute and then buff all the polished areas using a large brush or cloth. Use long strokes and not too much force. It is key to keep your eye on the leather as you will see when you have buffed them enough. If using a cloth, simply wrap around your fingers and buff off the polish, again not using too much force; just rely on the friction to do the work. If you get any polish on the welt (side of the soles), it will rub off with a damp cloth.

You could stop there…or you could use a process called bulling to achieve a perfect job. It’s like applying the old ‘spit shine’ technique, but without the spit! Use warm or cold water and wrap a cloth around two fingers very tightly. Put a decent amount of polish on your cloth but before you use it, dip your fingers in the water, and apply a droplet on the toe area. Apply the polish in the way I described above doing one area at a time. Once the resistance builds up and the polish and water begin to dry, add another droplet of water and a little less polish. You do not need to push down too hard; in fact, using a light motion is better. 

Leave your shoes for 10 minutes to dry a little and to avoid over soaking the leather. Repeat this process and after three or four applications, you will notice the shine starting to build. On each application, change the ratio of polish to water and start using less polish but a tiny bit more water and on your last application simply use water and slowly work this in very lightly without any polish. This will add that final bit of shine.

Suede shoe care
Use a crepe or brass suede brush to remove any dirt or marks. Lightly brush against the pile until you are happy the suede is free from loose dirt.

Give the suede a deep clean using a suede cleaner to bring the suede back to life and protect it from staining. You will need to use half water and half suede cleaner. You don’t need too much! Apply it to the suede by brushing it against the pile. When the suede is dark, you know it is wet and you know you have put enough on.

Leave your shoes for five to 10 minutes, then use clean water and brush from lots of different angles to rinse the suede cleaner off. Do not worry if the suede looks darker, it will only be while they are wet. Leave your shoes to dry. This will take around 20 to 30 minutes. You can put a cloth across the front to help soak up the excess moisture but never rub the suede with a cloth as any loose bits will come off and go onto the suede. 

For both types of shoe…remove the shoe trees and re-thread the laces. Whether they are leather or suede, your shoes will be looking better than the day you bought them!

You can purchase a complete shoe valet kit (video below) – small or large – from our website or the various single items that make up a shoe care kit, plus replacement laces, in our shoe care section. We also stock Saphir shoe care products.

Herring valet box unboxing