If you’ve been out and about anywhere in the Indianapolis area recently, you have no doubt driven over and around many potholes.

Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water after the water has entered into the ground under the pavement. When the water freezes under the pavement, the pavement will expand, bend, and crack, and weaken. The use of salt on the roads keeps the roads ice free but increases the breakdown of the pavement. Imagine what it’s doing to your leather shoes!

The ice may be gone, but the salt remains on the ground and if it can break down the pavement, imagine what it will do to your shoes if it sits too long! Last week we received this pair of shoes from a customer hoping we could help but, as you can see, the salt has sat too long and done too much damage. We can make this shoe look a little better but the long term damage has been done.

So, what can YOU do to prevent this from happening?

Here’s our tips:

1. Pre-treat your shoes with a lotion or spray that repels dirt and water, giving them a barrier between the damaging salt and the leather. Always test it on a small part of the shoe or boot first to make sure it doesn’t ruin the leather.

2. When you arrive at your destination whether it be work, school, home, etc, wipe down your shoes with a soft cloth or paper towel. Once you’re home, dip a clean soft rag into a mixture of 1tbsp of white vinegar and 1 cup of water, wringing out the excess moisture and gently blot the salt stains off the shoe. Apply sparingly and allow the shoes to dry.

3. Place a shoe tree in your shoes while they dry for about an hour or two. A simple unfinished cedar shoe tree with a split toe and a fully shaped heel will allow your recently worn shoes to contract and dry out to their ideal shape. (Do this each time you wear your leather shoes to draw out moisture from average wear in all seasons).

4. If you stepped in snow or a puddle and your leather shoes are completely wet, stuff soaking-wet shoes with crumpled up newspaper and dry them slowly away from direct heat. Direct heat can dry the leather too fast, causing them to crack and ruin. Before they’re entirely dry, insert cedar shoe trees to make sure they dry out evenly and maintain their shape.

5. After cleaning, maintain your leather shoes on an ongoing basis by cleaning and using a leather conditioner regularly to prevent cracks and to replace the lost oils, keeping the leather supple. Leather is a skin so it needs to be moisturized or it will dry up. And as we said before, the polish will act as a barrier to the pesky chemicals in the sidewalk salt.

6. Bring your shoes in for a professional cleaning often. For only $8.50 a pair, we will clean and polish your shoes and rid them of salt residue. Look at the difference on these boots we recently cleaned.

Bring them to any of our locations or, if you are a delivery customer, drop them in your bag with your other garments and they will be returned looking “like new”.

Want to view our hands on process? Here’s a quick video of the above boots being cleaned by hand.

– S.O.