Suede, pigskin or calfskin; full grain, top grain or split - when it comes to footwear, nothing (and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING) beats leather! No matter how aggressive PETA's global anti-leather campaigns get, leather has always been and will always be the first choice as far as the primary raw material for formal as well as casual footwear is concerned.
While an increased awareness of animal rights and a resultant rise in the number of supporters for prevention of animal cruelty may have decelerated the rate of slaughter of certain species of animals for their hides (crocodiles and snakes being the topmost candidates in this spare-their-hides list) for conservation purposes, the manufacture of leather footwear, clothing items and fashion accessories on a whole has not been significantly affected.
You see, since prehistoric times, humanity has had a strange and strong attraction for clothing material whose feel resembled the feel of their own skin and the hides of animals that our cave dwelling ancestors hunted served as the perfect material for protecting oneself against the elements of nature as well as for safeguarding one's modesty.
Besides, making clothes out of animal hides was easier during those times when the engineering and mechanical capabilities of mankind was still in its early infancy. That being said, it can be deduced that a penchant for leather - literally the second skin of our prehistoric ancestors - is sort of programmed in our genes and most of you out there would agree with me that it is fairly difficult to ignore leather items, especially as far as footwear is concerned. Now, we all know how tough it is to clean items made of original leather, especially if the leather is full grain or suede.
Apart from the standard stain issues, leather footwear is especially susceptible to give you a fair amount of jitters on the issue of stench. Whether you realize it or not, smelly leather shoes can cause you quite a significant amount of embarrassment (and subject you to a considerable number of oh-so-disgusting glances, most of them unbeknownst to you!) if you wear them in public. Ergo, if you wish to avoid all this embarrassment and prevent your leather footwear from becoming a haven for infectious bacteria and fungi, read ahead to find out how to clean stinky leather shoes.
How to Make Stinky Leather Shoes Smell Better?
The first step that you need to take to ensure that your leather footwear (or any footwear for that matter) smells as fresh as the spring breeze is to maintain pedalian hygiene. You see, stinky feet and stinky shoes are often inseparable sole-mates where the former condition is usually responsible for the latter. That was about preventing shoes from becoming malodorous. The following points lay out a comprehensive plan of action that you need to undertake when leather shoes smell bad.
►Since it is the insides of the footwear that get all stinky, note the type of material that is used to make the inner surface of the sole and toe box. If it's entirely made of leather, then check if the leather is finished (smooth and shiny) or unfinished (dull and kinda grainy texture).
►Now, assuming that the surface that you're about to clean is made of leather, moisten a soft piece of cloth (preferably a flannel or pure cotton washcloth), pour a few drops of saddle soap onto it and softly rub the cleaning surface to form a lather.
►Thoroughly, but carefully, wipe all areas of the inner surface of your footwear making sure to clean all the nooks and corners along the seams to ensure that not even a thread is left unsanitized.
►Wipe off the lather with a moist washcloth, taking care to get rid of all traces of soap as if even a tiny residue is left behind, it can cause dermal irritation if you happen to have sensitive skin. Allow the shoes to dry naturally. Do not use a hair dryer or place the shoes in front of a heater/ blower to dry them!
►To keep your footwear as well as your feet disinfected and stench-free, you may also wipe the interiors with alcohol or white vinegar after they have dried. However, make sure you dilute them before use as they might damage the footwear material if used in their concentrated forms. Allow the shoes to dry naturally.
►Once the shoes have dried completely, you can dust in some baking soda on the insides to keep the shoes fresh. Baking soda keeps the inner environment sterile, making it unsuitable for any kind of bacteria, fungi or micro organism to thrive therein.
►In case of finished leather, you can also use a mild soap or a soap free cleanser (such as mild face wash or shower gel) instead of saddle soap. However, using saddle soap to clean leather shoes is always a better option as it is specially prepared for cleaning and conditioning leather.
If the insoles of your footwear are removable, getting the smelly ones replaced would be a good idea. One useful tip for keeping your shoes fresh and preventing stench from building up inside them is to place them at a well aired location whenever you take them off your feet. This will help dry up any amount of perspiration or other kind of moisture in your shoes. Also, if you happen to have stinky-feet issues, applying an absorbent talc or an anti fungal/ medicated powder before putting those shoes on will help keep your pedalian environment fresh and germ-free.
When storing heavy leather footwear such as boots during the warm months, make sure you follow the above-mentioned cleaning regimen before you stash them away. Put a naphthalene ball in each unit before locking them away during the summers. Now that you know how to clean stinky leather shoes, smelly shoe blues should be a thing of the past!