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How To Care For Leather

Investing in full grain and top grain leather shoes and accessories guarantees you durable products for years to come, if you take care of them properly. 

Leather balm and leather polish serve different purposes in leather care, and they are used at different stages of maintaining leather goods.

Horse hair is renown for its softness, durability, and its gentle cleaning and scrubbing properties.

Three Simple Steps to Care for Your Leather

Step 1: Clean with a horsehair brush or soft cloth.
Step 2: Condition with a leather balm, then if necessary or desired, apply a leather polish.
Step 3: Store in a dry and cool place when not in use. All of our products come with a soft cloth bag for storage to keep dust and particles off.
Wet Leather: If your leather gets wet dry it as soon as possible by gently blotting and DO NOT rub. Then let it air dry. Do not use a heat source to dry it faster. You can stuff your shoes or bags with some newspaper to help it hold it's shape and absorb moisture. I did this often with my soccer cleats after playing in the rain. 

Tips for Leather Care

At John Candor we use and recommend Smith’s handcrafted in Maine horsehair brushes, cloths and leather balm for your leather care.

Depending on the usage of your leather product, you'll want to brush it every few days or weeks. A leather balm should also be applied. A leather polish can be used to fix scratches in the leather or add a shine to it.

We recommend using leather balm before leather polish. Conditioning the leather with a balm helps prepare it for the polishing process. In fact, you may only need a leather balm. Not all leather items require both a balm and a polish. The specific needs of the leather item, such as its age, condition, and the level of shine desired, will determine which products to use.

Test any new product on a small, inconspicuous area of the leather for at least 24 hours to ensure compatibility and to avoid potential discoloration or damage.

For other manufacturers, always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific leather care products you are using.

Leather Balm

  • Purpose: Leather balm is primarily used for conditioning and moisturizing leather. It helps to restore and maintain the natural oils in the leather, preventing it from drying out and becoming brittle.
    all natural leather balm
  • Ingredients: Leather balms typically contain oils, waxes, and sometimes additional conditioning agents. Common ingredients include beeswax, lanolin, and various oils like neatsfoot oil or jojoba oil.
  • Application: Apply leather balm to clean, dry leather. Rub it into the leather using a soft cloth or horsehair brush, allowing it to penetrate the material. This helps to keep the leather supple and can also enhance its natural patina over time.

Leather Polish

  • Purpose: Leather polish is used to add shine and a protective layer to the surface of the leather. It is often applied after the leather has been cleaned and conditioned. Leather polish can cover scuffs, scratches, and provide a polished finish.
  • Ingredients: Leather polish usually contains waxes, dyes, and sometimes additional conditioning agents. Carnauba wax is a common ingredient in leather polish, providing a glossy finish.
  • Application: Apply leather polish to clean and dry leather. Use a soft cloth or horsehair brush to rub the polish onto the leather in a circular motion. After allowing it to dry, buff the leather with a clean cloth or horse hair brush to achieve a shine.

Horsehair Brush

Horsehair brushes are valued for various applications due to their unique characteristics. Here are some reasons why horsehair brushes are considered important:

all natural leather care kit
  • Softness and Gentle Cleaning: Horsehair is known for its softness, which makes horsehair brushes ideal for delicate surfaces such as leather, sensitive fabrics, and certain types of shoes. The gentle bristles help prevent scratching or damaging the material being cleaned.

  • Natural Bristle Composition: Horsehair brushes are made from natural materials, providing an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic brushes. The bristles are often a mix of mane and tail hair, combining durability and softness.

  • Water Absorption: Horsehair has the ability to absorb water, making it useful for applying and distributing liquids such as shoe polish or leather conditioner evenly. The absorption properties help achieve a smooth and even finish.

  • Static Electricity Reduction: Unlike synthetic brushes, horsehair does not generate static electricity easily. This makes horsehair brushes suitable for tasks where static electricity could be problematic, such as cleaning electronics or certain types of clothing.

  • Durability: Horsehair is known for its durability, providing brushes that can withstand regular use and maintain their effectiveness over time. This durability is particularly important in applications where the brush is subjected to frequent use, such as shoe polishing.
  • Application
    • Use a horsehair brush to remove dirt and dust from the surface of your leather shoes
    • Gently brush in a circular motion or back-and-forth, and don't push or apply heavy pressure to avoid scratching the material.
    • There are different sized brushes for application. We have a bamboo detail brush, the dauber brush is for gentle and precise applicator, and a larger brush for cleaning or buffing larger areas. 


  • Leather balm is primarily for conditioning and moisturizing, while leather polish is for adding shine and protection. Depending on the state of your leather item, you may use one or both products as part of a comprehensive leather care routine.
  • Horsehair brushes are for removing dirt, debris, and polishing your leather goods.
  • Our cloth bags are for storage to keep dust and other particles off of your leather goods.
  • Follow our 3 steps for leather care

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