How to Clean a Full-Grain Leather Upper

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Full-grain leather refers to the tough outer hide--usually the hide of a cow. This leather is more durable and easier to clean than suede and other softer leathers. Cleaning leather shoes makes the shoes look better, and many cleaning products help keep the leather supple. Keeping leather supple prevents cracks in the leather, and may keep your shoes functional and beautiful for years.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoe brush or paper towels
  • Leather cleaning cream
  • Soft cloths
  • Remove the shoe laces, if applicable. This way you won’t transfer dirt from the uppers to the laces and vice versa during the cleaning process. You should clean the laces separately.

  • Brush loose soil from the uppers using a shoe brush or dry paper towels. Now apply a quarter-sized dab of leather shoe cleaning cream to a soft cloth.

  • Hold the shoe steady by placing one hand inside it. Apply the cream to the upper, rubbing it in using short, circular motions. You may need to stop halfway and apply another dab of shoe cream to the cloth.

  • Set the soiled cloth aside and use a fresh, dry cloth to wipe over the upper. Use the same circular motions you did when you applied the cream. Dirt and excess cleaning cream should transfer to the cloth.

  • Apply a second round of cream to the shoe. Use a shoe brush (or paper towels) to brush the shoe, as suggested by GolfShoesPlus.com--this will lift more dirt from the shoe. Afterward, use a soft cloth to buff the upper. Let the shoes air dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean leather laces by rubbing them with the shoe cleaning creme. Wipe them dry.
  • GolfShoesPlus.com warns that you should never use heat to dry leather shoes--this includes using blow dryers.

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