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How to strip and repolish shoes

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have a pair of Edward Green shoes in which the polish is peeling and flaking. I was wondering if I should strip and repolish or any ideas on how to get a top shine without doing so. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 26
I'd try lightly rubbing an acetone soaked soft rag on the shoes to remove excess polish, then I'd wait 15 minutes or so and buff the shoes. Sounds like there may be a fair bit of polish on there.
post #3 of 26
I won't use acetone on shoes as nice as Edward Greens. Try something more gentle to clean these shoes may be some allen edmond leather cleaner or crema alpina or saphir renovator.
post #4 of 26
It would be better to see photos posted first before advice is given. Acetone is something I would only use as a last resort.
post #5 of 26
If it is truly the polish that is peeling and flaking the excess should clearly be removed.

I would clean the shoes with a good pH balanced leather cleaner or saddle soap. Once the excess polish has been removed I would go over them again with Crema Alpina/Nubiana. Give the shoes a good buffing with a shoe brush, and if desired polish with the proper color of shoe polish.

Acetone should be used with caution, and as a last resort.
post #6 of 26
If it is just the polish that is peeling and flaking, then colorless shoe cream can do the job.
It is just like my mother used to use Pond's cream to remove the make up.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poshak Man View Post
I won't use acetone on shoes as nice as Edward Greens. Try something more gentle to clean these shoes may be some allen edmond leather cleaner or crema alpina or saphir renovator.
Acetone will strip off both the polish and the finish if there is one. Sometimes the finish is tinted and sometimes it is just clear...and some leathers don't have any finish at all. But here is a recipe for a great solution that will remove all the waxes from your shoe (albeit with a minimal amount of elbow grease). I got this recipe from the chemical labs at one of the premier shoe and leather finishing companies in the States: one part ammonia (don't get extra strength, although low odor is OK) one part water one-half part alcohol (ethyl alcohol...buy it in paint and hardware stores) Mix, dampen a cloth and wipe shoe down. Repeat until wax is removed. This mixture will not damage most finishes although it will lift spurious dyestuffs. If you are worried try a sample section deep in the tongue or under the instep. I use it regularly to remove excess waxes and even tar on newly made boots and shoes...before they have ever been polished. And provided that you refresh the conditioner on the shoe when you are done removing the polish, it will not dry out or damage the leather.
post #8 of 26
Holy crap...acetone? Ammonia? Why don't you just go and set them on fire...that oughta get rid of the polish too. What type of polish have you been using? If it's flaking etc. you probably have been using a liquid polish applicator, either that or the shoes have not been worn in a realllllly long time. The only other reason I could see is that you polished them new before the leather was broken in. I spit polish my parade boots (for the military) and have to strip them down and build them back once or twice a year. Polish is just wax (or it should be)... warm water and a gentle brush will get most of the wax off. Dry thoroughly, put on a leather conditioner and let stand a day or two. Then use regular polish (Kiwi etc)...in a tin...no liquid either. Either brush it on in layers, or if you're more adventurous, brush - then use a polish rag, cold water, and get busy. I have seen every trick in the book for shoe polishing in order to cut corners - none of them work (at least not in the long term). The long and the short of it is, it will involve work...but for a nice pair of shoes it would be worth it.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poshak Man View Post
I won't use acetone on shoes as nice as Edward Greens. Try something more gentle to clean these shoes may be some allen edmond leather cleaner or crema alpina or saphir renovator.
Renomat, not Renovateur.
post #10 of 26
Polishes--paste polishes,specifically--have benzine or some other chemical solvent mixed in with the wax. The benzine is there precisely because it is a solvent for wax and makes application easier. Because it is a petro-chemically based volatile it evaporates quickly and in doing so, cools and hardens the wax....thus making the brushing up (or shining) quicker and better (hardened wax shines better than soft wax). But!! The benzine also draws conditioners and natural oils out of the leather (being a good solvent for them, as well) and dries the leather out. A diluted solution of ammonia is a far better and less harsh solvent for wax than benzine. If the shoes are of good quality leather, my advice is to never use a paste wax on them except over the toes if spit shining. Do not apply paste wax anywhere the shoe may flex. The benzine will tend to dry these areas out and the flexing will cause the leather to crack prematurely. Use a good quality cream whenever possible. BTW, ammonia is the default carrier/solvent for most of the finishes applied to leather especially if it is an acryllic based topcoat(finish) or wax.
post #11 of 26
I haven't read all of the above posts but before using any stripping agent I would suggest saddle soap and a brush. Wet the shoe, lather with saddle soap, scrub with a brush and rinse. Let them dry and repeat on stubborn areas. Afterward you can use creme polish to colorize and finally a light coat of wax polish to seal it all in. I did this with a pair of Aldens that were flaking with excellent results. It should be noted that I actually used a kitchen sponge (much to the chagrin of the wife) with a scrubbing side to remove the flaking.
post #12 of 26
Also, FWIW, benzene is also a known carcinogen.
post #13 of 26
Guys, you might want to reconsider your aversion to acetone. It's a powerful tool, so you've got to be very careful with it, but it's also one of the most useful tools available for shoe care. For some problems it is the gold standard solution (no pun intended).

I'm not afraid to use it, in fact I've picked up my techniques from Lobb, Berluti and Santoni shops. Each repairman seems to have his own secret recipe of 80-90% acetone "cut" with something else, and I personally cut my acetone with whiskey.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Guys, you might want to reconsider your aversion to acetone. It's a powerful tool, so you've got to be very careful with it, but it's also one of the most useful tools available for shoe care. For some problems it is the gold standard solution (no pun intended).

On this side of the pond, Acetone is often used for renewing, restoring or antiquing shoes. Recently I made a video for DWS on fundamental maintenance for shoes including how to succeed in a spit polish. I will be putting a video up soon on how to antique shoes and change their color. In this video, you will see how acetone should be used to insure the leather is not damaged.

Cheers

Michael Alden
www.dresswithstyle.com
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Alden View Post
On this side of the pond, Acetone is often used for renewing, restoring or antiquing shoes. Recently I made a video for DWS on fundamental maintenance for shoes including how to succeed in a spit polish. I will be putting a video up soon on how to antique shoes and change their color. In this video, you will see how acetone should be used to insure the leather is not damaged.

Cheers

Michael Alden
www.dresswithstyle.com

I'd really like to see that video.
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