It doesn’t matter if you buy the most premium-quality leather shoes to wear to fancy parties or weddings, because over time, even the best leather shoes are likely to crease and look unkempt.
It’s completely normal for leather shoes to crease, especially when they’re heavily used, stored improperly or inappropriately cared for. No type of leather is exempt – full-grain, top grain, genuine leather, even nubuck and suede.
However, can you remove creases from leather shoes? The answer is yes! In order to get creases out of leather shoes you’ll need to use an iron on a low-heat setting and use a high-quality conditioner.
Here’s an overview of our 8-step process:
- Clean Leather Shoes with Soap Solution
- Remove Laces from Shoes
- Place Newspaper in Shoes
- Place Damp Cloth Over Shoes
- Iron Shoes with Low-Heat Setting
- Apply Leather Conditioner to Shoes
- Put Laces Back on Shoes
- Store Shoes Adequately
Moreover, removing creases from your leather shoes instead of investing in new ones can help you make a more sustainable fashion choice. If you want to bring new life into your leather shoes and refresh their wrinkly appearance, you will need the following products:
- Soft lint-free cloth
- Iron with a low heat setting
- Leather soap solution
- Leather conditioner
- Shoe tree
Getting creases out of leather shoes can be tricky, especially if using heat to remove the creases. Heat application, if used excessively, can cause damages to the leather material and even scorch it if not undertaken with care.
Why Do Leather Shoes Crease?
Normal wear-and-tear is common for everyday leather shoes; the most popular reason for creased leather shoes is repeated bending of the shoe at a single area (where the toes meet the foot), especially over a long period of time.
Another common reason for wrinkled leather shoes is an improper fit. You will notice fewer creases in leather shoes that fit you to a T compared to leather shoes that always seem to have extra room.
Leather shoes can also become creased or wrinkled if they are stored improperly, without any internal support such as newspaper, shoe trees or other types of material.
High-quality leather shoes are expensive, which is why smoothing out the creases of your existing leather shoes is a much smarter and more cost-effective idea than buying new ones.
Getting the creases out of your leather shoes and polishing them up can help you make them as good as new and look sharp for any big occasion. Let’s get started!
1. Clean Leather Shoes with Soap Solution
The first step to getting the creases out of your leather shoes is to clean them entirely. Use a cleaning brush to rid your shoes of any sand, dirt, or dust that might have accumulated on the shoes.
Next, you should apply a leather soap solution or saddle soap with a clean lint-free cloth to remove any superficial scuffs or tough dirt on the exterior of your shoe.
For a leather soap solution, you can consider the Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner, which is designed for leather and container saddle soap, as well other natural products.
If you’re looking for pure saddle soap, then we highly recommend checking out Fiebing’s White Saddle Soap. These solutions will help to prevent any foreign elements from sticking to your shoe leather and remove various forms of impurities.
After you have cleaned both shoes gently with a leather soap solution, you should wipe your shoes dry with a soft and dry cloth to remove any excess soap remaining on the surface.
2. Remove Laces from Shoes
After cleaning the shoes with a leather soap solution and wiping them dry, you should remove the laces of both your shoes. This gives you better access to the creases. You can store your laces away for now.
3. Place Newspaper in Shoes
After taking out both shoelaces, you should place newspaper inside both shoes to stretch the leather outwards. This step will help build a shape similar to your foot inside the shoe and stretch out any creases that may be present.
While using shoe trees are great for storing leather shoes, we don’t recommend using them for removing creases, they have a hard surface and sometimes don’t stretch out the areas where the creases are.
Ensure only to place enough newspapers to straighten out the creases. Overstuffing the shoes with newspapers will result in overstretching the leather, ruining its original appearance and shape.
4. Place Damp Cloth Over Shoes
This step is the most crucial one and must be followed carefully for the best results. Dampen a washcloth or soft lint-free cloth and place it on your leather shoe. It is critical to ensure that the cloth is not dripping wet but only damp with moisture (excess contact with water can be detrimental to leather quality).
We recommend using a white cloth for the process to avoid any chances of color transference from the cloth onto the leather shoes. Please do not skip this step as the heat of the iron could burn and melt parts of your leather shoes instead of straightening out the creases.
5. Iron Shoes with Low-Heat Setting
After placing a damp cloth on your creased leather shoes, it is time to iron the crease slowly and lightly on a low-heat setting. You will notice steam escaping from the damp cloth as you lightly press your iron on it.
This hot steam helps soften the leather and stretch it to remove the creases. However, you must be careful not to keep the iron at one spot for too long. Alternate between multiple creased spots on the leather shoe, for about 3 seconds each, as you work on the complete exterior.
You must do your best to be gentle and light with the iron as excessive heat application may scorch the leather. Getting out heavy creases may take multiple passes; therefore, you will have to ensure that the cloth remains damp throughout the process.
We advise paying attention to areas with heavy creasing and working carefully to avoid burning your hands. If your cloth dries out, dampen it again carefully and continue the process until you are satisfied with the results.
6. Apply Leather Conditioner to Shoes
As steam and moisture dry out leather, it is important to replenish your leather shoes with necessary oils to avoid any brittleness in the material. A leather conditioner helps to renourish your leather shoes with vital natural oils to prevent the formation of any new creases or cracks.
After ensuring your shoes are completely dry of moisture, begin applying a leather conditioner with a dry cloth. Any high-quality leather conditioner will do the trick. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we’ve had great success using the KIWI Shoe Conditioning Oil.
Focus more on polishing and treating areas with slight creases and scuffs – to prevent further damage – while you work on the entire surface.
7. Put Laces Back on Shoes
After your leather shoes have been rid of creases and polished with the leather conditioner, you should put the laces of your shoes back in to inspect the complete transformation.
8. Store Shoes Adequately
To ensure that your leather shoes last you for years, it is essential to store them properly in a cool, dry, and shaded place. Find a clean and dry shoebox in which to place your leather shoes, and insert a pair of shoe trees.
Shoe trees can help leather shoes sustain their original shape by lightly stretching them and absorbing any moisture present. Avoid drying your leather shoes in direct sunlight, as this can damage your leather.
Important Tips when Removing Creases Out of Leather Shoes
We hope that our guide on removing creases from leather shoes was helpful and that you’re happy with the transformation. We would also like to share with you some of the best practices and most important tips to take note of for this process and also to prevent creases from happening in the first place.
- Store Your Leather Shoes Correctly – Leather shoes are different from fabric shoes, in that they aren’t as flexible and can form creases if not stored properly. Therefore, we recommend using shoe trees or newspapers to store your leather shoes.
- Only Use High-Quality Products – When cleaning or conditioning your leather shoes, only use products that contain natural and harmless ingredients. Leather is a porous material and tends to absorb foreign substances easily.
- Never Apply Direct Heat to Leather Shoes – When removing the creases on your leather shoes with the help of an iron, always ensure that there is a damp cloth between the iron and the leather. Any direct heat or iron that’s not set to a low-heat setting can cause damage to your leather shoes.
Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill
I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!