How to Clean Leather Ballet Shoes

Do you have a passion for dance and love wearing leather ballet shoes? Keeping your footwear clean is an important factor in persevering on the quality of your shoes. From dust and dirt to sweat – cleaning can easily become merely wiping off with a cloth or leaving it up to rain.

How to Clean Leather Ballet Shoes

However, that may not be enough! With regular or improper care, the leather on these shoes can start breaking down quickly due to dampness and fabric materials. Read this blog post for key tips on how to clean leather ballet shoes properly, so they remain supple and last longer!

10 Best Ways on How to Clean Leather Ballet Shoes

1. Pre-clean the Shoes

Remove dirt, mud, and any other particles by wiping them off with a clean cloth. This should be done either before or after each dance session to prevent the build-up of unwanted materials on the leather. Pre-cleaning is the best way to avoid any dirt getting deeper into the leather and causing damage. So always try to keep your shoes as clean as possible.

2. Use a Leather Cleaner

A specialized leather cleaner is ideal to use on delicate shoes such as ballet shoes. This will help remove any unwanted build-up and restore the leather’s original color. 

Follow instructions carefully when using any chemical cleaners or solvents to prevent damage to your shoe’s material.  The most popular leather cleaner are saddle soap, leather conditioner, and mink oil. You can use these with a clean cloth and test them on a small area first. Mink oil is known to darken the leather, so use it in moderation.

3. Use Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioners help to protect the leather from water damage and keep it looking fresh for longer. You can apply this after cleaning your shoes with a cloth or leather cleaner. It helps replenish the natural oils in the leather while protecting against dirt and dust particles. Leather conditioner will help you to keep your shoes looking new and prevent any cracks from forming.

Leather Conditioners 
Protect the Leather

4. Dry the Shoes Thoroughly

After washing or applying conditioner, make sure to dry your ballet shoes completely. This can be done by using a cloth and dabbing away any moisture from within each shoe as well as on the outside area. You may also want to use a fan or hair dryer on low heat to speed up the drying process.

5. Use a Soft Brush

Using a soft bristle brush helps loosen dirt particles around your shoe’s stitching, laces, and upper material. It is best to use this gentle technique after pre-cleaning with a cloth or leather cleaner. Avoid hard brush because this can cause damage to the delicate material.

6. Avoid Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can damage the leather on your shoes and cause them to discolor or crack. Therefore, ensure you store your ballet shoes away from direct sunlight. When you dry your shoes, try to use a fan indoors and avoid direct sunlight.

7. Don’t Store Wet Shoes

It is important to avoid storing wet shoes after dancing or cleaning, as this can cause unwanted mold and mildew to form. Ensure your shoes are completely dry before storing them in a cool area.

8. Use Shoe Trees

Shoe trees help keep ballet shoes in their original shape and prevent any creases from forming when not worn for extended periods. This is important as it helps retain the shoe’s overall shape and reduces damage from folding or creasing. Shoe trees will also help absorb any moisture that is left in the shoe after cleaning.

Shoe Trees Help Keep
Shoes in Their Shape

9. Stuff Shoes with Paper

If you do not own a pair of shoe trees, simply stuffing your shoes with newspaper can help prevent creases from forming in the material. This is a great alternative as it helps maintain your ballet shoes’ original form.

10. Clean your Shoes Regularly

Finally, it is important to clean and condition your leather ballet shoes regularly to keep them looking their best. This will help maintain the quality of the leather as well as protect them from unwanted dirt and damage.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your leather ballet shoes stay in their best condition for longer. This will help them to last longer and remain as supple and comfortable as ever! Happy dancing!

Some Other Tips and Tricks to Clean Leather Ballet Shoes

  1. If your leather ballet shoes are particularly dirty, use a light scrub brush to agitate the dirt and grime off the leather surface. Just ensure not to be too hard on the shoes, or you may damage them further.
  2. For stubborn stains, create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Soak a cloth in the mixture and dab it onto the affected areas of your shoes. Once again, be gentle with the leather material so as not to cause any damage.
  3. For extra shine, blend together one tablespoon of olive oil, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and 2 cups of warm water into a solution. Dip a cloth into the mixture and dab it on your ballet shoes.
  4. Use a toothbrush to clean any tight areas in the shoe, such as around the edges or near the laces.
  5. Allow your leather shoes to air dry completely before wearing them. Do not use any heat sources, as this can cause damage to the material.
  6. Lastly, if your leather ballet shoes look a little dull or faded, buff them with a soft cloth and some beeswax to restore their natural shine.
Use a Light Scrub Brush

With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to keep your shoes in pristine condition for years to come! Make sure to give them a good clean after every wear to ensure that they stay looking like new.  Good luck and happy cleaning!

Frequently Asked Question

Can I Use Hairdryers or Other Heat Sources to Dry My Leather Ballet Shoes?

No, using heat sources such as hairdryers or blow dryers is not recommended for leather ballet shoes. The high temperatures can cause damage and cracking of the material, so it’s best to allow them to air dry completely before wearing them.

Do I Need to Condition My Leather Ballet Shoes?

Yes, it’s important to condition your leather ballet shoes every few months. This will help keep the material soft and supple and protect it from wear and tear over time. 

Use a leather conditioner specifically made for use on ballet shoes, and follow the instructions carefully. Make sure to check out our other articles for more useful tips on how to care for your leather ballet shoes!

Is It Better to Clean Ballet Shoes With Toothpaste?

No, it is not recommended to use toothpaste on leather ballet shoes. While toothpaste can be an effective cleaning agent for some materials, it can damage the leather and cause discoloration. It’s best to stick with a gentle soap and water solution or vinegar and water mixture when cleaning your leather shoes. 

Can Leather Ballet Shoes Be Washed?

Yes, leather ballet shoes can be washed in a washing machine. However, gentle cycles and cold water are important for the best results. Also, make sure to choose a detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics such as leather. After the cycle is complete, allow your shoes to air dry completely before wearing them.  Cleaning and caring for leather ballet shoes properly is essential to maintaining their quality and extending their lifespan. Follow the tips and tricks outlined in this article to keep your shoes looking like new for longer!

Can I Use Shoe Polish on My Leather Ballet Shoes?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to use shoe polish on your leather ballet shoes. This will help give them an extra shine and keep them looking their best. Just make sure to choose a product specifically made for use on leather shoes, and gently apply the polish with a soft cloth.

Use Shoe Polish on 
Leather Ballet Shoes

Follow these tips, and your leather ballet shoes will look new soon! With proper care and maintenance, you can keep your shoes in pristine condition for years to come.


Cleaning your leather ballet shoes is an easy task that anyone can do with a few simple items. Remember always to work cautiously, as harsh chemicals and tools can do more harm than good.

With the steps above, you now know how to clean leather ballet shoes, allowing them to reach the peak of their potential. Be sure to use shoe cleaner and conditioner specifically designed for leather so that no damage is done in the cleaning process. 

Regular cleaning and conditioning of your dance shoes will ensure they remain comfortable while providing maximum protection, breathability, and flexibility. From time to time, it is also important to inspect the sole of your shoes for any damage or signs of wear. If necessary, have a professional cobbler mend or replace parts as needed in order to extend the life of your beloved ballet shoes!

Photo of author

Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

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