How to Clean Waxy Leather Shoes

Updated February 21, 2017

In addition to making yourself look good, cleaning and maintaining your leather shoes is important to extend their lifetime. Good leather shoes tend to be on the expensive side. Over the course of time, a wax build-up will appear on your shoes as you continue to polish them. Eventually, it will reach the point where the best procedure is to remove the old wax and apply a new coat of polish to your shoes after cleaning them.

Douse a make-up remover pad with rubbing alcohol.

Rub the pad on the shoe wax in circular motions. Use both sides of the pad until it becomes caked with wax. Continue removing the wax with a new pad. Remove the wax from the shoes in one small section at a time.

Wipe the shoe as you go along with a cloth to help remove any remaining wax.

Allow your leather shoes to dry for a couple of hours.

Take the laces out of your shoes. You don't want shoe polish to get on the laces.

Place some saddle soap on a wet cloth. Remove any scuff marks with the cloth. A commercial leather shoe cleaner can also be used to remove scuff marks and the shoes. These products can be found where other leather products such as purses are sold. Allow the shoes to dry.

Place a leather conditioner (or shoe cream) on the shoes with a cloth. Apply the conditioner in a circular motion with a cloth. Allow the shoes to dry for an hour.

Test a shoe polish on a small section of the shoe to make sure it does not change the colour of the leather.

Apply a leather polish to your shoes with a cloth.

Buff the shoes with a cloth in a circular motion.

Go over the shoes with a shoeshine cloth to bring out the lustre in the leather.


Instead of rubbing alcohol, you can also use nail polish remover. Apply a leather conditioner to your shoes at least twice a year.


Do not allow the leather to get too wet. Do not dry your leather shoes in the sun. Do not use products designed for regular leather shoes on suede shoes. To remove spots from suede shoes, use a cloth dipped in white vinegar.

Things You'll Need

  • Make up remover pads
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth
  • Saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • Shoe polish
  • Shoeshine cloth
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John Smith is a writer with over 30 years experience. He has worked at a newspaper, various magazines and websites, and he has interests in a wide range of subjects including sports, politics and entertainment. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in history from the College of New Jersey.