How to fix cracked leather shoes

Updated March 23, 2017

The British Standard defines leather as being a hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact. This gives leather its unique appearance and long-lasting properties. While leather shoes usually outlive those made from other natural substances, they are not impervious to damage. A typical problem with old leather shoes is a result of it drying out and cracking.

Brush the shoes gently to remove any mud or loose particles. Wash the shoes using glycerin soap. Glycerin is a component of all vegetable and vegetable fats and oils. It is a humectant, meaning that it will increase the water content in the top layers of the leather by drawing moisture from the surrounding air.

Dry the leather in a well-ventilated room. Do not use artificial heat sources as this will cause further cracking.

Apply filler using a sponge. The leather will absorb this and it will encourage its remaining fibres to bond together. Leave the filler to dry for about five minutes, or as directed by the manufacture’s instructions. Remove any excess filler by lightly sanding the area using fine-grade sandpaper.

Choose a shoe cream that matches the colour of the existing leather. Shoe cream is a leather conditioner containing lots of dye and no wax. Apply a couple of coats for a moderate shine. Treat the shoes with leather oil. This will lubricate the fibres and help prevent further cracking.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush
  • Glycerin soap
  • Leather filler
  • Shoe cream
  • Leather oil
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About the Author

Justin Schamotta began writing in 2003. His articles have appeared in "New Internationalist," "Bizarre," "Windsurf Magazine," "Cadogan Travel Guides" and "Juno." He was a deputy editor at Corporate Watch and co-editor of "BULB" magazine. Schamotta has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Plymouth University and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University.