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How to Clean and Polish Patent Leather Shoes

Updated April 17, 2017

Patent leather is all about the shine. Regular cleaning and buffing will help to maintain that glamorous glow. Patent leather shoes may be in-you-face haute couture or classic formalwear; either way, the glistening finish will add a spark to your attire. Patent leather was originally varnished with layers of linseed and other oils, but polyurethane and acrylic are now used to finish the leather. Many patent leather treatment products are available, but according to Heloise of "Good Housekeeping" the main ingredient in many of these products is mineral oil. Everything you need to clean and shine your patent leather shoes will likely be found in your own home.

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  1. Dampen a soft cloth with soapy water and gently wipe away dirt and debris. Use a fresh damp cloth to clean up the soap. Allow to dry. Specially made patent leather cleaning products may also be used. Manufacturers' claim that using these products will prevent side effects caused by minerals and chlorine found in most water.

  2. Apply a small amount of mineral oil or petroleum jelly to a soft cloth and rub out minor scuffs, then buff to a shine. Try a silicone-based patent leather shine product and follow the manufacture's instructions for a grease-free shine.

  3. Dab a marker the colour of your shoe on a damp paper towel and gently rub any stubborn scuff-marks.

  4. Use acetone shoe polish remover to treat very deep scuffs. Apply to several cotton balls and gently swab the scuff-mark and surrounding areas. Use caution with this technique, as it will dissolve some of the varnish. Be careful to not remove too much.

  5. Tip

    Clean patent leather shoes after each use to prevent a build-up of dirt from permanently dulling the shine of the varnish.


    Do not use a brush or rough cloth on patent leather shoes, as it will dull the shine. A lint-free cotton flannel is ideal. Normal shoe polish will not work on patent leather shoes.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap or patent leather cleaner
  • Petroleum jelly or mineral oil
  • Soft cloth
  • Silicone-based patent leather shine product (optional)

About the Author

David Gordon has been writing website copy since 2008. Although his main focus is the visual arts, he has always considered writing to be an important part of his creative process. Gordon received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tufts University in affiliation with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

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