I am lazy about a lot of things, but not about cleaning my shoes -- especially my leather boots in the winter. The snow and salt -- plus my own negligence -- destroyed my favorite buttery, knee-high Cole Haan boots a few years ago, an experience that now reminds me to give my shoes a once-over before I put them away for the night.
I've tried a number of leather cleaners and polishes over the years, and found that all are not created equal. First of all, leather wipes -- which seem like they'd be so very convenient -- are worthless for just about everything, except maybe removing scuffs on your handbag. Salt and dirt will just get smeared, not cleaned.
Overall, I've gotten the best results by applying Chamberlain's "Leather Milk" with a lightly textured rag. It cleans and moisturizes, leaving my boots with a nice, natural gleam -- nothing too shiny. It also has a pleasantly subtle almond scent.
The only thing it can't tackle well are the rubber soles of sneakers. For those, I bring out Jason Markk's shoe-cleaning kit, which comes with a very handy bristle brush and a cleaner that's good on white leather and rubber.
So far, the regime is working -- in fact, I haven't had to discard a single pair of leather boots in five years, and I like to think my Mansur Gavriel bag looks nearly as good as the day I got it.
Chamberlain's Leather Milk, $18.95, available at Amazon.
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