Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
If you have a pair of leather shoes that you love but they have started to develop cracks in them don’t worry as we have some simple solutions to help you repair the damaged leather. Learning how to fix cracked leather shoes isn’t too difficult when you know how and can help prolong the life of your favorite shoes.
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What Causes Leather Shoes to Crack?
The easiest way to explain why you may end up with cracked leather shoes is to think of the material as the skin that it is. When leather is first made into shoes it is flexible and will have natural oils contained within it that make your footwear look great. Over time, however, those natural oils will start to be lost drying out the leather material.
Cracked leather shoes are inevitable over time as this process will happen naturally but it is important to understand that the problem will happen sooner if your shoes or boots are subjected to extreme conditions. So if your leather is stored or worn in hot conditions that will dry it out sooner. Very cold conditions will have the same effect.
Think of leather like your own skin. It is something that needs to be moisturized and taken care of if you want it to look at its best otherwise it will start to develop leather cracks prematurely ageing your footwear.
How Can I fix My Cracked Shoes?
If you want to repair cracked leather boots or shoes you first need to determine the extent of the cracking that is taking place on your shoes.
Superficial light cracks in leather can usually be fixed with a leather treatment product that moisturizes your shoes to help make them supple and flexible again. When this is combined with a good shoe polish you should find that light leather cracks are no longer visible.
For deep cracks in leather shoes then you will need to follow the process that we describe below which involves using a leather filler. Leather filler is a product that fills in the damaged leather. When the product is dry it will need to be sanded down so it is in line with the surrounding leather and then covered with shoe polish or sometimes leather dye so the repair becomes invisible.
We will discuss both processes so that you know how to fix cracked leather shoes and prolong the life of your shoes.
Stop Boot and Shoe Cracks With Basic Maintenance
Before we start to explain how to fix cracked leather shoes we think it is important to stress that prevention is always going to be better than cure.
Properly maintained shoes are going to be less likely to crack simply because regular treatments of saddle soap, leather conditioner, or mink oil will keep your leather boots and shoes supple and flexible and make them less prone to drying out.
Taking care of a natural material such as leather makes it less likely for deep cracks to appear and will keep your shoes in tip-top condition. Proper maintenance to prevent cracked leather will save you time in the longer term and also save you money and the hassle of trying to repair more severe cracks at a later date.
Shoe Crack Solution for Small Cracks
If your shoes only have a few minor cracks in them then this is the process that should help make your shoes look good again.
The best place to start is by making sure that your shoes are thoroughly clean in the first place. That means removing as much visible grime and dirt from the shoe as you can.
Go over the entire shoe removing as much grime as you can. You can use an old toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies.
Also, look out for any visible signs of mold spores on your shoes or boots. These might appear as green spots. Mold and mildew spores can not only ruin your shoes but also contaminate any other shoes in your closet. If you do see mold on your shoes make sure you carry out the removal process outside to prevent spreading spores. Rubbing alcohol or diluted vinegar onto the affected area should both work well to remove the problem.
Once most of the visible grime has been removed you should think about using saddle soap as a way of cleaning the leather. Saddle soap has been used for years as a leather cleaner particularly for horse tack and saddles but also for shoes. It is a great product as it not only cleans your leather footwear but also helps to condition and protect it as well.
Just rub your leather boots or shoes with a clean damp cloth and allow a lather to develop. Then rub this lather into your cracked leather boots to remove any dirt that is embedded in the leather. You can remove the excess lather with another clean damp cloth and allow your footwear to dry.
Once you have your footwear completely dry it makes sense to moisturize the leather with mink oil which acts as a leather conditioner. Just apply the mink oil with a clean cloth in a circular motion and work it evenly into your shoe. Then buff your leather with a microfiber cloth.
As a final touch, you can use a shoe cream to match the color of your leather boots or shoes so that your footwear looks as good as new.
Using Leather Filler for Shoes With Deeper Cracks
If your cracked leather boots and shoes have much deeper cracks then you need to amend the process above to include the use of a filler. The best leather filler for shoes is one that enables you to hide the crack with the product. This means that the leather filler needs to be capable of filling in the cracks and matching the shoe color of your shoes as closely as possible.
To fix deeper cracks you will need to follow the steps for smaller cracks but after you have applied the saddle soap and mink oil this is the point where you should think about using the filler.
Use a palette knife to spread the filler into the deeper crack or cracks in your shoes. Try and smooth it as closely as possible and then allow the filler to dry overnight.
When the filler is dry do not use coarse sandpaper to smooth it! Instead, find a really fine grit sandpaper and smooth the filler until the area is completely smooth and in line with the rest of the shoe.
When you have cleaned off any debris from the sandpaper you can now use a shoe cream on your leather boots or shoes to finish the job.
Buying a Cracked Leather Shoe Repair Kit
If you want to know how to fix cracked leather shoes then the secret is to get a great cracked leather shoe repair kit. A great kit will do much of the hard work for you as you will then have great tools to work with.
One of the best that we have seen for fillers is this Magicfly Vinyl and Leather Repair Kit which has 10 colors that you can work with.
What we like about this leather filler kit is that it gives you the ability to do some color mixing so that you can find an exact match for the shoes that you want to repair.
The kit has a mixing jar, brush, and spatula which you can use instead of a palette knife to allow you to customize the color to your particular needs. The kit has detailed instructions you can use to repair cracks in leather so they are virtually unnoticeable.
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