How to Fix Cracked Leather Shoes

If you own a pair of handsome leather shoes then you probably know the pain of seeing them gradually crack and deteriorate over time.  It is a sorry sight when expensive shoes that were once smart and fetching become loose and scruffy. You can help prevent this from happening by regularly cleaning and conditioning them. 

However, the fact is that leather cracks over time and you’ll need to learn how to treat this if you want to keep your shoes healthy and attractive.  While you can’t mend the cracks entirely, you can hide them by following a few simple steps.  

To fix cracked leather shoes you need to first clean the shoes to get off any mold or dirt, then fill in the cracks with moisturizer and leather filler, and finally color the shoes with shoe cream and conditioner.  Once you do this your shoes will look spic and span in no time.     

If you own a pair of leather shoes, you’ll know that they tend to crack over time.  You can help stop this from happening by cleaning and conditioning your shoes about once a week, but generally it is only a matter of time before your shoes will start to crack a little in some places. 

While you can’t mend or reverse the damage, you can make your shoes look as good as new by reconditioning the leather and covering them up.  If you want to make your shoes look smart and sleek again, here’s how to fix your cracked leather shoes in three simple steps.  

First, you need to clean your shoes thoroughly to get off any mold or dirt.  Use a brush or a dry cloth to gently sweep off any dust, spores or grime from the leather.  Any of this that is left on the shoe is going to hamper any repairs you make.   If your shoes have any stubborn green spots of mold that are not coming off easily, try using a towel dampened in warm water to scrub it off.  

Once any visible dirt is brushed off of the surface, wipe the whole shoe from top to bottom with a slightly damp cloth.  This is to gently moisten the leather and catch any stray bits of dirt.  It is important to make sure that the cloth is not soaking wet.  You don’t want the leather to be too damp as this will damage it further.   

Next, evenly spread some leather cleaner such as saddle soap evenly over the shoes.  A variety of leather cleaners are all available online.  Wipe the shoes in a circular motion with a cotton cloth until the leather feels dry and flexible.  This will draw out the dirt and moisture caught in it.  Then, dry the leather by wiping away the dirt and moisture with a clean cloth, especially around the areas with cracks.  

Second, you need to fill in the cracks with leather filler.  The best way to do this is to first of all hydrate the leather with a moisturizer such as mink oil, although there is a variety of products available.  Moisturize the whole shoe, paying special attention to the cracks.  Press the moisturizer into the cracks to hydrate them and soften them. 

Once the cracks are moisturized, use leather filler (water-based acrylics) to fill in the cracks.  This doesn’t reverse the damage but it does cover it over so that it is not noticeable.  The best way to apply leather filler is with a sponge.  You should continue filling in the cracks until they are level with the surface of the shoe.  

When you are happy that all the cracks are filled, leave the shoes to dry.  This usually takes around 30 minutes, but for best results leave your shoes for 24 hours.  This will make sure that the shoes are completely dry for the final stage of the repairs. 

When they’re dry, buff the shoes with fine-grit sandpaper until the filler and the leather are smooth.  Don’t use coarse sandpaper or press too hard as this can scratch your shoes further.  Pay special attention to the cracks, making sure that they blend in with the rest of the shoe.  

Finally, when the shoes are filled and sanded, it is time to color the shoes.  Apply a shoe cream with a cotton cloth in a circular motion.  These creams polish the leather as well as add color to it, so it is important that you use a shoe cream that has the same color as your shoes.   

Once the shoes are looking clean, shiny and handsome, it is time to buff the shoes with a clean cotton cloth to restore the leather.  Begin at the top of each shoe and slowly work your way down, rubbing the leather with a circular motion. 

The trick is to ensure you treat the shoe the same all over so that there are no inconsistencies.  This will complete your repairs and leave your cracked shoes looking good as new.  Now is a great time to start conditioning your shoes every week to help reinforce all of that good work.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent leather shoes from cracking?  

The best way to prevent your leather shoes from cracking is to condition and moisturize your shoes around once a week, as well as using an all season leather protector which helps protect the shoes from the elements.  It is best to apply the leather protector when you first buy your shoes.  This helps keep them fresh and strong.   

What products should I use on cracked leather shoes?  

One of the most popular products that are used on cracked leather shoes is mink oil.  This is a kind of sturdy moisturizer that rehydrates tired leather and makes cracks less severe.  Work the mink oil into the cracks and the surrounding leather. 

For best results, repeat this process fairly regularly, perhaps once a week or twice a month, depending on how often you wear them.