What is Patent Leather?

Patent leather is coated in either a plastic, varnish, or a lacquer finish that gives it a noticeable shine. It’s mirror-like surface make it a popular choice for dress shoes, purses, and upholstery.

How to Care for Patent Leather Shoes?

Its glossy exterior is a beautiful thing. However, when it loses its sheen, patent leather can become faded, creased or pebbled.

Luckily, even after years of fading, this original luster can be restored.

4 Simple Steps To Care For Patent Leather Shoes

Simple Steps To Care For Patent Leather Shoes

If you have a pair of patent leather shoes that desperately need some TLC, here are four quick steps you can follow for any of your patent leather care needs.

Step 1:

Use a damp cloth and carefully wipe away any dust or debris left lingering on your shoes. (The cloth should be just a little wet; not too dry, not too wet. A little bit of moisture on the cloth will help it pick up any dirt, grease, or grime left on the shoe. Too much water left on the cloth will begin to seep into the pores of the shoe, making Step 2 more difficult).

The damp cloth (or chamois) should wipe away any dust or debris that has settled on the shoe.

Step 2:

Use a patent leather cleaner. Shake the bottle before applying. Apply a thick layer to your entire shoe. Let it sit for three to five minutes.

(You can try out Saphir Vernis Rife Patent Leather Care for a cleanser that gives the patent leather a deep, smooth, and clean finish. It comes in neutral and black.)

The cleaner you choose should work on scratched or scuffed leather. Choose a cleaner/cleanser that eliminates scuff marks and restores the color and shine of your patent leather article. Bonus points if the package has a chamois cloth for cleaning. Again, we recommend Saphir Patent Leather Care.

[If budget is a concern, you could also try Olive Oil or Vaseline as a replacement for the patent leather cleaner.]

Step 3:

After applying the cleanser, allow it to dry for 3 to 5 minutes. A white film may become visible on your shoe but don’t be alarmed, it’s all part of the process.

Step 4:

Buff it to a high shine. Last but not least, use the chamois and buff your shoe. (By buffing it, you are cleaning all of the dried cleanser off and turning it into a high-gloss shine. There is no need to add any polish to your shoe once it has been buffed. If you add any polish, you are risking the chance of ruining the glossy film that was originally painted onto the shoe. Buffing the cleanser will add enough shine on its own).

Cleaning your patent leather shoes is as simple at that!

Differences Between Leather vs Patent Leather

Patent leather cares differs a bit from standard leather.

Leather is made from animal skin that has gone through the tanning process. The tanning process involves soaking the skin in an acidic solution that helps soften and preserve it at the same time. Depending on the purpose of the leather, it can be dyed during the tanning process to many different colors. Some popular leather colors are tan, brown, white, gray, and red. Most of the time, leather is created for different styles of clothing, shoes, purses, gloves, upholstery and even book bindings.

Patent leather, like standard leather, goes through the same tanning process as well. However, once the tanning process is complete and the leather is formed into a specific product, patent leather is coated in either a plastic, varnish, or a lacquer finish that gives it a noticeable shine. Most of the time, patent leather has a smooth glossy finish, but it is also able to be embossed in different textures. Patent leather is most commonly used for belts, dress shoes and purses.”


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