How To Clean Patent Leather Shoes [8 Tips]

Everyones got that favorite pair of shoes that caught our eye in the store, but because they are our “nice” shoes, they don’t get worn as often as they should, so they don’t get scuffed or faded. But with proper care, leather shoes can last a very long time and look fantastic for years.

However, they require some special care to keep them looking their best. Today, I’m going to explain how to clean patent leather shoes to keep them looking their best, be it the first time you’ve worn them, or the 50th!

Cleaning and Polishing Patent Leather

Commercial Options:

For your most expensive or valuable items, I’d have to recommend looking at commercially available products to clean your leather. 

There is a reduced risk of accidentally staining the leather thanks to instructions and various options designed to cover most types of leather you may own.

Leather Cleaners

One of the most effective solutions to care for your shoes will be to use commercial cleaning products. There are several cleaning products available specifically for cleaning leather. 

These can be found at most drugstores, grocery stores, or online. Commercial leather polishers and cleaners often come in two separate products: a cleaner and a polish.

Polishes usually contain wax or oil that helps protect the leather and give it a shine. Leather cleaners, on the other hand, are designed to clean the leather without damaging it.

When cleaning patent leather, you should always start with a cleaner before moving on to polish. This will remove any dirt, grime, or rubbish that may get stuck on the surface of the leather without damaging it.

Leather Oil

Another popular way to clean and protect leather is to use leather oil. This can be done by applying a small amount of the oil to a clean cloth and then rubbing it into the leather. Leather oil essentially softens the leather, which makes it more pliable and less likely to crack.

It also helps to protect the leather from water damage and other elements that could cause it to deteriorate. Again, there are a lot of products out there, meaning you should be able to get the perfect oil for leather shoes.

Home-made Options:

If you’re in a pinch or have shoes you want to give light spruce up without buying any of the commercial options above, there are plenty of things you likely have around the house which you can use to buff out scuffs and shine leather shoes in a hurry.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a natural product that can be used to clean and polish patent leather. Importantly to note, only use a tiny amount of mineral oil on your shoes.

You can apply the mineral oil to a cloth and then rub it onto the shoe’s surface. Once you have used the mineral oil , you can then buff the shoe with a second clean, soft cloth to give it a shine.

Petroleum Jelly (or Vaseline)

Another household product that’s great at cleaning patent leather is petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly can be applied to a clean cloth and then rubbed into the surface of the shoe.

As with mineral oil, only use a tiny amount of petroleum jelly on your shoes. Too much can make them sticky and difficult to clean. Once you have applied the petroleum jelly, you can then buff the shoe with a second clean, soft cloth to give it a shine.

Vaseline can also be used in place of petroleum jelly.

Vegetable Oil

In lieu of leather oil, vegetable oil can also be used to clean and polish patent leather. Just like the other options in this list, don’t use too much vegetable oil on your shoes. Using a small amount on a less noticeable area is also a good idea, just to make sure the leather’s color isn’t affected.

You can apply the vegetable oil to a cloth or clean rag and then rub it on the surface of the shoe. Once you have applied the vegetable oil, you’ll want to use a separate clean, dry cloth to polish the shoe.

Baking Soda

For a more natural cleaning solution, you can use baking soda. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help to remove dirt and grime from the surface of the leather.

To use, simply mix a small amount of baking soda with water, you’ll want a ratio of around 1:4, with 1 being the baking soda. You’re looking for a paste-like appearance. Once you have mixed the two together, apply it to a clean cloth and then gently rub it into the leather.

Shaving Cream

Shaving cream is a gentle cleaner that can help to remove dirt and grime from the surface of the leather. Apply a small amount of shaving cream and give the leather a good buffing, elbow grease is needed. Once you’ve scrubbed the entire shoe, rinse it off with clean water and dry it with a soft towel.

Note: Be sure to use plain shaving cream, not one with added fragrance or other ingredients, as these could damage the leather.

White Vinegar

White vinegar has proven itself to be a versatile cleaner, and can be used throughout the home, including patent leather! To use white vinegar to clean your shoes, mix water and white vinegar, in equal measures together.

Once you have mixed the solution, apply it to a clean cloth and then rub it into the leather. After this, rub the shoe with a damp cloth, not wet, just damp and then dry it with a towel or something similar.

Note: As with shaving cream, be sure to use plain white vinegar, not scented or colored vinegar, as these could damage the leather.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is patent leather easy to clean?

For the most part, yes! Patent leather is a type of leather that has a protective coating, which makes it more resistant to dirt and staining. However, it’s still important to clean your shoes on a regular basis, using a gentle cleaner and soft cloth.

Does patent leather get ruined by water?

Patent leather is more resistant to water than other types of leather, but it’s still important to avoid getting it wet if possible. If your shoes do get wet, be sure to dry them off as soon as possible with a soft towel.

Is patent leather real leather?

Yes, patent leather is a real type of leather. It’s made by coating the surface of the leather with a clear or colored lacquer.


As you can see, there are loads of ways you can clean your patent leather shoes. Some methods may work better than others depending on the type of dirt or grime that you are trying to remove. A good general rule of thumb is, to begin with a small area to test whether or not the cleaner will leave an unexpected mark.

If your shoes are highly valuable to you be it by price or sentimentality, then it would be best to take them to a specialist shoe store, as they should be able to give you some guidance on taking care of your specific leather, and keep your patent leather lasting for years!

Leave a Comment

Amazon Associates Program

Gomestic is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.