How to care for patent leather shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mack11211, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. mack11211

    mack11211 Senior member

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    I think a lot of us have patent leather shoes that we bought for formal occasions. We don't wear them that often, unless we're Bobby Short.

    But now a lot of sneaks have patent leather elements as well.

    What is patent leather? And how do you care for it?

    One salesman years ago advised me to smear petroleum jelly on my patent leather shoes when I wasn't using them. Effective, or dangerous?
     


  2. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    "Patent" leather has its name because it is a patented invention. It is leather (in the best case) or some synthetic material (in the case of many cheap formal shoes and probably on athletic shoes) that has a synthetic finish put over the top of it to give a glossy surface. The usual advice for care of it is to wipe it down with a damp cloth and buff out. It doesn't need a protectant like regular leather; it's plastic.

    I wouldn't put petroleum jelly on it. I don't know what the point of that would be, but it wouldn't let the leather breathe if the synthetic membrane is advanced enough to do so, and might soak in and ruin the leather underneath. I doubt most patent leathers have breatheability, but in case they did this would be a bad idea and even if not I don't see the point.
     


  3. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    When I got my patent leather formal shoes, the salesman told me that Pledge works as well as anything. That's what I've used, and it has worked well enough. I have no clue whether it would damage the leather, but I always figured that patent leather had more in common with plastic than leather anyway.
     


  4. BjornH

    BjornH Senior member

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    Yes, my suggestion would be to use the same stuff that you use on your windows if you want to be thorough. A damp rag should do just nicely.

    B
     


  5. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

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    the true patent finish is actually a boiled linseed oil based finish. A rag with a little linseed oil will clean them up very well. As far as a chemical finish, windex would work as well.
     


  6. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Interesting.. I have read that this process hasn't been used in some time. Are current makers still using it?
     


  7. WJTW

    WJTW Well-Known Member

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    I usually clean them using none other than dish washing detergent. Yup. I realise the shine it gives is much better than the original shine out of the box, and it smells more leathery now, if I am not wrong.
    I did make the mistake of dabbing a bit of the shoe polish (liquid ones) on the shoe, and a stain stays on, no matter how much detergent I use... how do I get rid of that?
    Or me... I actually wore the patent pair more than the none-patent ones, just to stand out a bit from the others. And besides, it has a very satisfying klick-kock sound from the heel, much louder than most dress shoes.

    WJTW
     


  8. ROI

    ROI Well-Known Member

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    The linseed oil revelation is intriguing. This is the first I've heard it.

    My practice, like jcusey, has been to use spray furniture polish. I'm not sure where I picked up that tip, but I've heard of other people doing it. And it seems to work.
     


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