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How to Remove Stains From Leather Shoes

Updated February 21, 2017

Leather shoes become stained from outside elements such as salt from sidewalks in the winter and dirty puddles in the springtime. Leather is a porous material that absorbs outside elements that create stains on the exterior of shoes. Simply wiping leather shoes with a cloth may not remove stains that have been embedded into the surface of the leather. Removing stains from leather shoes is simple once you understand how to do so properly.

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  1. Mix one part water and one part white vinegar into a bowl. Dip one corner of a lint-free cloth into the vinegar solution, then rub onto the stain on the leather shoe. Wipe the stain away with the vinegar wash. Clean the vinegar solution away with a damp cloth, then dry with a clean cloth.

  2. Mix 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar to form a paste. Apply to any stains on the leather shoes not removed with the vinegar wash. Apply the paste with a lint-free cloth and rub into the stain. Allow the paste to sit on the stain for one hour. Remove the paste from the leather shoes with a damp lint-free cloth, then dry with a clean cloth.

  3. Spray a leather conditioner on a lint-free cloth and wipe onto the leather shoes. Leather shoes need regular conditioning, especially after cleaning, to keep the leather from drying out and cracking. Buff the shoes to a high sheen with the leather conditioner.

  4. Tip

    You may use fresh lemons or lemon juice for the cleaning paste.

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Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Lemon juice
  • Cream of tartar
  • Leather conditioner

About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.

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