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How to Fix Scuffed Leather Shoes

Leather is one of the most premium shoe materials, known for its durability, comfort, and timeless style. Unlike synthetic materials, leather shoes mould to your feet over time, providing a custom fit that enhances comfort.

They’re also highly breathable, preventing moisture build-up and promoting a healthier environment for your feet.

However, just like any other type of shoe, leather shoes require proper care and maintenance as they are still prone to wear and tear and damage. The good news is leather shoes are usually repairable.

Why Do Leather Shoes Get Scuffed?

There are multiple reasons why your leather shoes get damaged. As a durable yet pliable material, leather is prone to showing signs of distress when it comes into contact with hard surfaces or sharp objects. Scuffs occur when the outer layer of the leather is scratched or rubbed off, revealing a rougher texture beneath. This can happen from simple actions like brushing against a curb, stumbling on uneven pavement, or even from repeated foot movements that stress certain areas of the shoe.

Additionally, if your leather shoes get constantly exposed to elements like rain and sunlight can also make leather more susceptible to scuffing by drying it out and reducing its natural flexibility.

If your leather shoes are scuffed, don’t throw them out and replace them! Here are some helpful tips on how to fix scuffed leather shoes.

How To Repair Scuffed Leather Shoes

It’s possible to perform a DIY repair on your scuffed leather shoes, depending on the severity of the damage. If your leather shoes have light to deep surface scuffs, you can effectively address them using items you might already have at home.

Before proceeding with any leather shoe repair techniques, make sure to thoroughly clean your shoes first to avoid compromising the quality of the repair. Dirt and oil can prevent repair materials from bonding correctly with the leather, which might result in a repair that doesn’t last as long or looks uneven.

Here’s a quick guide on how to clean your shoes. A clean shoe ensures that your efforts in repairing it are both effective and aesthetically pleasing.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your leather shoes, it’s time to proceed with the repairs.

For Light Surface Scuffs

Light surface scuffs are usually just marked on the surface of the leather without penetrating into the leather itself. They often appear as slight discolorations or scratches that haven’t torn or deeply damaged the material.

  • Clean the Shoe: Wipe the leather with a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt and debris. Let it dry completely.
  • Apply Leather Conditioner: Use a soft cloth to rub a small amount of leather conditioner over the scuff. This can help minimize the appearance of light scuffs by moisturizing the leather, making it more pliable and helping it to recover its original texture.
  • Buff with a Soft Cloth: After applying the conditioner, buff the area with a soft cloth to restore shine. For many light scuffs, this will be enough to repair the appearance.
  • Apply Shoe Polish (Optional): If the scuff is still visible, apply a shoe polish that matches your shoe’s colour. Buff to a shine.


You can also use these alternative quick fixes for light surface scuffs on your leather shoes:

  • Warm up the scuffed area with a hairdryer and gently rub it with your fingers. The heat helps spread the leather’s oils, reducing how noticeable the scuff is.
  • Apply a bit of white vinegar to a soft cloth and lightly massage the scuffed spot with it. This method is effective for lightening scuff marks and bringing back the leather’s natural gloss.
  • Gently dab a bit of petroleum jelly on the scuffed area, using a clean cloth to blend it in. Allow it to penetrate by leaving it for a few hours or, ideally, throughout the night. Afterwards, clear off any remaining jelly. The jelly acts as a conditioner, making the leather supple and thereby diminishing the scuff’s appearance.

For Deep Surface Scuffs

Deep surface scuffs are more severe; they penetrate through the top layer of the leather, sometimes removing colour and leaving noticeable grooves or tears. These are more challenging to repair because they affect the leather’s structure, not just its appearance.

  • Clean the Shoe: As with light scuffs, start by cleaning the leather thoroughly and letting it dry.
  • Apply Leather Filler: If the scuff has created a noticeable groove or removed colour, use a leather filler that matches your shoe’s colour. Apply according to the product’s instructions, and allow it to dry completely. This might require several thin layers.
  • Sand the Filler: Once dry, gently sand the filled area with fine-grit sandpaper until it’s smooth and level with the surrounding leather.
  • Colour the Leather: Use a leather dye or shoe polish in a colour that matches your shoe to colour over the repaired area. Let it dry, and apply additional coats if necessary to match the surrounding area.
  • Apply Leather Conditioner and Polish: Finish by applying a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple, followed by a coat of shoe polish. Buff to a shine.

How to Maintain Your Leather Shoes

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your leather shoes in prime condition and minimizing the risk of scuffs and scratches. Here’s how you can take care of your leather shoes to prevent scuffs and scratches.
  • Apply quality leather conditioner on your shoes at least once every 2-3 months to prevent drying and crackling.
  • Leather shoes are prone to water damage; you can protect your shoes better by applying a waterproofing spray or cream.
  • The way you store your leather shoes also affects its longevity. Make sure to keep them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
  • Regularly polish your shoes to maintain a protective outer layer and to make them more resistant to scuffs and scratches.
  • Avoid using your leather shoes every day to avoid wear and tear.
  • Have them cleaned by professional shoe cleaners at least once a year to ensure they receive a deep, thorough cleaning and conditioning. This can significantly extend the life of your shoes and keep them looking their best.
Love Your Shoes’ expert cobblers are highly experienced in cleaning and repairing all types of leather shoes. From vintage finds to luxury brands, our skilled shoe experts meticulously treat each pair with the care it deserves, ensuring your shoes leave our shop looking as good as new.

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