How to take care of brown leather shoes [recommended shoe polishing tools]

How to Care for Brown Leather Shoes_eye-catch imageLife/Health

It is often said that if your shoes are clean, people respect you. Likewise, it is said that hotel staff judges a person’s character by looking at their shoes.

However, the most significant advantage of taking care of your leather shoes is what people think of you and the refreshing feeling you get when your shoes are clean.


In fact, when I’m working hard to polish my shoes, I concentrate so much that I can forget about my stress and get absorbed in it.

It’s been almost five years s since I started shoe polishing at home.

Brown leather shoes tend to get dirty more than black shoes. However, brown leather shoes seem to be difficult to take care of, don’t you think?

In this article, I would like to show you how to easily take care of brown shoes by polishing brown Regal leather deck shoes.

  • How do I care for brown shoes?
  • What tools do I need to polish my brown shoes?
  • I’m worried that the cream might stain my shoes.

If you have any of these questions, please read this article.


8 tools to use for shoe polishing brown leather shoes

8 tools to use for shoe polishing brown leather shoes

These are 8 tools you should have when caring for your brown leather shoes.

Shoe polish toolsObjectiveMemo
Shoe keeperTo shape leather shoes
Horse-hair brushTo remove dirt and dust
CleanerTo remove dirt
Cream for leather shoesTo nourishes the leatherBlack has a complementary color effect
Mini Pig-Hair brushTo apply the shoe polishingYou can use cloth or a T-shirt
Pig-hair brushFor blending shoe polishing
ClothTo wipe dry to remove excess cream and make it shine
GloveTo bring out the shineYou can use cloth

I will explain each shoe polishing tool in detail later on.

The leather shoes I will be cleaning are these brown Regal deck shoes.

Brown Regal shoes to be polished

How to care for brown leather shoes

The cleaning procedure for brown shoes is basically the same as that for black leather shoes. However, with these shoes, the white rubber sole is quite dirty, so the process of removing dirt from the rubber sole is included.

The procedure of shoe polishing for leather shoes
  • STEP 1
    Shape the leather shoes with a shoe keeper
    Put the shoe keeper into the leather shoes and shape the leather shoes.
  • STEP 2
    Remove dust
    Use a horse-hair brush to remove dust and dry dirt from the leather shoes.
  • STEP 3
    Remove dirt from the rubber sole
    Remove dirt from the rubber sole with a Gekiochi-Kun melamine sponge.
  • STEP 4
    Remove old polishing cream and dirt
    Put the cleaner (remover) on the cloth and remove old polishing and stains stuck on the shoes.
  • STEP 5
    Apply polishing cream for leather shoes
    Apply leather shoe polishing cream with a special brush or your fingers.
  • STEP 6
    Blend the cream
    Apply shoe cream with a pig bristle brush.
  • STEP 7
    Remove excess cream and polish
    Wipe dry with a glove and polish while removing excess cream.
  • STEP 8
    Shoe polishing is now complete.
I will explain each step while explaining the tools used.

STEP 1 Put a shoe keeper in the leather shoes and shape them

Step1 Put a shoe keeper in the leather shoes

Put a shoe keeper in your leather shoes to shape them and if you are not using a shoe keeper, put a piece of soft paper in your shoe and shape it.

This is the reason why we use a shoe keeper.

  • To keep the shape of your leather shoes and correct any misshapen.
  • To prevent wrinkles and cracks in leather shoes.
  • To elongate the wrinkles in leather shoes so that you can take care of the fine details.

It is better to use a shoe keeper for any kind of leather shoes, but leather shoes are particularly quite expensive, so it is highly recommended to use a shoe keeper to make them last longer.

In particular, the appearance of leather shoes is affected when they lose their shape and become wrinkled. Once wrinkles form, they can’t be repaired well, and as they dry out, they can crack.

For this reason, it is always better to keep a shoe keeper in your leather shoes to keep them looking good and to keep the leather in good condition.

Shoe keepers make it easier to remove dust and dirt from the shoes because the wrinkles in the shoes are stretched out, making it easier for the shoe cream to penetrate the leather.

Therefore, if you don’t have a shoe keeper, you can use a piece of paper to roll up or something similar in your shoes and keep the shape of the shoe clean so that you can take care of them properly.


There are many types of shoe keepers, from expensive wooden ones to cheap plastic ones!

Wooden shoe keepers are recommended for men’s leather shoes and business shoes, like the deck shoes in this case.

In our house, we use plastic shoe keepers for women’s pumps.

Wooden shoe keepers are also readily available at a reasonable price, and once you buy one, you can use it for a long time, so it’s a good idea to have as many as you need.

If you’re particular about your shoe keepers, you can’t go wrong with the popular “Sleipnir” shoe tree.

Here are some wooden shoe keepers at outlet prices that I use at home and recommends.

Here is a plastic shoe keeper for women’s shoes that I use at home.

STEP 2  Remove dust and dirt from leather shoes with a horsehair brush

Step2 Remove dust and dirt from leather shoes with a horsehair brush

Here is the actual procedure for cleaning your shoes. First, gently brush your leather shoes with a horsehair brush to remove dust and dirt from the shoes.

Horsehair brushes come in a variety of colors, including black, white, and brown.

Horsehair brushes in different colors

Horsehair brushes are used to remove fine dust, dirt, and other dry dirt from leather shoes because horsehair has fine and flexible bristles.

It is useful to have one because it can be used for leather shoes as a dust remover and mouton, faux leather, and suede shoes.


A horsehair brush and a pig bristle brush used after this are similar, so it would be easier to understand if you mark the handles like this with tape.

Comparison of Horsehair brush and PIg bristle brush

Brushing the leather shoes thoroughly to remove dirt will allow you to spread the leather cream evenly afterward.

It also prevents dust from sticking to the shoes and causing the leather to crack due to moisture. You may think that you can skip this step, but step 2, dusting, is actually essential.

Usually, it is better to remove the shoelace before brushing, but this time I just cleaned them as they were.


The horsehair brush we bought at home is the M. Mowbray Horse Brush. It is very easy to use and I recommend it.

M. Mowbray is a traditional Italian brand representing shoe care that is also used by leather shoe repair professionals. It has a long history and is a top brand of leather goods care products along with Saphir.

STEP 3 Remove dirt from rubber soles with “Gekiochi-Kun” melamine sponge

Step3 Remove dirt from the rubber sole

Since the originally white rubber sole of the deck shoes was quite dirty, I removed the dirt of this part first. Unfortunately, I could not remove the dirt from the rubber sole with shoe cleaners and stain removers.

The eraser didn’t work either, so I ended up using a melamine sponge called “Gekiochi-Kun” with a bit of water and rubbed it to remove the dirt.

If you can’t get rid of stains on rubber soles, please give it a try.

STEP 4 Remove old cream and dirt from shoes with shoe cleaner

Step4 Remove old polishing cream and dirt

Next, use a small amount of leather shoe cleaner to remove old cream and dirt from your shoes. Shoe cleaner is also called stain remover.

Why remove stains?

Applying shoe cream over and over again without removing dirt and old cream will gradually damage the leather. This is why it is important to remove stains.

However, unlike black shoes, brown shoes may become “blotchy” if you use a stain remover.


Be sure to apply a small amount of the cleaner to an inconspicuous area first to see if it won’t stain.

If it does stain, don’t use a shoe cleaner, and use just a leather polishing cream. After confirming that no stains have formed in an inconspicuous area, take a pea-sized amount of the cleaner on a cloth and gently rub the entire shoe to remove dirt and old cream.

For the cloth, use a soft, thin cotton cloth cut such as a T-shirt or underwear. Again, a small amount of the cleaner is enough, and using a large amount of cleaner at once may cause stains, so the trick is to use it a little at a time.

For leather shoes, dirt and old creams will be lifted by the water in the cleaner, so you don’t need to scrub it, and all you need is to rub gently to remove the dirt.


If the stain is still not removed, take a small amount of cleaner and wipe the stain off with a circular motion.

If you still can’t get the stain out, take a small amount of cleaner and wipe the stained area with a circular motion. This will gradually remove the stain that was difficult to remove at first. When the dirt is completely removed, wipe off the shoe cleaner with a clean cloth.

We use M. Mowbray’s Stain Remover, which is popular and the easiest to use.

MOWBRAY Cleaner mini type and standard type

The mini type (24ml) shown in the image on the left was included in the starter set, which I will introduce later, but since the remover in the starter set is a little too small, I used it up quickly.

I liked it so much that I bought a standard size (60ml) shown on the right side image because it removes stains well and has no smell.

STEP 5 Apply shoe cream for leather shoes with a special brush or your fingers

Step5 Apply shoe cream for leather shoes with a special brush

After the dirt removal is completed, apply shoe cream for leather shoes. This is a function of shoe creams.

Advantages of applying leather shoe cream
  • Penetrates the leather and nourishes it.
  • Softens the leather and prevents it from cracking and wrinkling.

You may be under the impression that brown shoe cream should be used for brown shoes, but be careful with each color to use.

There are various concentrations of brown, and if you use a different shading of brown color, it will stain or change the looks of the shoes.

For this reason, the best choice for brown shoes is to use a neutral (colorless) shoe cream. A colorless shoe cream can be used not only for brown shoes but also for shoes of other colors, so it is very convenient to have one colorless shoe cream.

It is easier to apply a leather shoe cream with your fingers because the cream is warmed up by your body heat and softens, and some people apply it with their fingers. However, it also has some smells and makes your fingers dirty, so it is best and easiest to apply it with a special shoe cream brush.


A brush specially designed for a shoe cream is also called a “penetrating brush.”

Leather creams are very stretchy, so you only need to use a minimal amount, about two or three grains of rice. Then, once you get the cream on the brush, quickly and evenly apply it to the entire shoe.

I recommend M. Mowbray Penetrating Brush!

After this, a pig bristle brush will be used to blend it in, so you don’t have to be so nervous when you apply the cream with the penetrating brush.

You can use the brush to spread the cream easily to small areas such as the sole of the shoe, shoelaces, and wrinkled areas. Wrinkles and cracks will be improved if you nourish them with a good supply of cream.

At home, the leather cream we use is M. Mowbray’s Shoe Cream (Neutral), which was included in the starter set.

Mowbray Neutral Cream

When it comes to shoe cream, Mowbray is recommended. It is known for its high level of reliability and is supported by professionals for a shoeshine.

Also, it is made with a traditional recipe and has excellent penetrating power to moisturize and nourish the leather.

Its price is reasonable even though it is a popular shoe cream and I highly recommend it. It doesn’t have much of an odor either!

STEP 6 Apply shoe cream with a pig bristle brush

Step6 Apply shoe cream with a pig bristle brush

After applying shoe cream evenly to the entire shoe, brush the shoe with a pig bristle brush to blend in the shoe cream.

There is a difference between a horsehair brush, which is used to remove dust, and a pig bristle brush, which is used to blend in the leather cream.

Horsehair brush
  • Fine bristles
  • Soft and pliable bristles
  • Bristles are shiny
Pig bristle brush 
  • Thick bristles
  • Hard bristles
  • Bristles not shiny

Brushing with a pig bristle brush after applying shoe cream will help remove excess cream and allow the cream to be blended evenly throughout the shoe.

Brushing also has a massaging effect on the leather. You can apply more force when brushing than when using horsehair. As you continue brushing, the surface of the shoes will gradually become shiny and glossy.

 Different pig bristle brush for each color
  • If you use a pig bristle brush to apply cream, the cream will stick to the brush.
  • For this reason, it is best to use a brush for each color of cream: black for black cream, brown for brown cream, and colorless for colorless cream.

There are many different types of pig bristle brushes for spreading cream, from cheap to expensive. The best pig bristle brush is, of course, M. Mowbray’s pig bristle brush.

STEP 7 Wipe dry with a glove or cloth to remove excess cream

STEP7 Wipe dry with a glove or cloth to remove excess cream

Finally, use a cloth or glove-type cloth to polish and finish.

Polishing with a cloth will remove excess cream and gradually make it shine. Again, the trick is to polish gently and avoid scrubbing. For the final touch, you can use a soft, thin cotton cloth cut from a t-shirt or underwear or the like to remove dirt, or you can use flannel cloth if you have one.

Many shoeshine starter sets come with glove-shaped mittens, which is very convenient because you can easily put your hands in them and polish your shoes.

 Shoe polishing is done!

Shoe polish is done

The shoe polishing is now complete!

You can see from the picture that the shoes have become shiny after the cleaning and polishing. Also, the rubber sole is now white and clean.


It’s a great feeling to see shoes that have been cleaned.

What tools should I get to care for my brown leather shoes and polish them?

how to prepare shoe polish tools

As I mentioned earlier, brown leather shoes come in a variety of shades of brown, and using different colored shoe creams can stain or change the color of the shoes.

For this reason, neutral (colorless) shoe cream should be used for brown leather shoes. It is also recommended to buy a separate pig bristle brush for spreading the shoe cream, as the black one will leave black cream on the shoes.

I bought the original starter set from Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio at home.

Original Starter Set from Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio
  • This set includes one each of neutral (colorless) and black double W cream.
  • This is a convenient set that can be used for both brown shoes and shoes of other colors.
Original starter set from Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio

Original starter set from Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio: Large brush type
I like Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio store, and we always buy from this store at home, conveniently having stores on both Amazon and Rakuten Ichiba.

There are various types of starter sets sold at Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio, all of which are packaged in a luxurious box, and can also come with a paper bag (sold separately), making it a great gift.

Here are the contents of the set.

  • M.MOWBRAY Shoe Cream: neutral (colorless)
  • M.MOWBRAY Shoe Cream: black
  • 2 mini pig bristle brushes for applying shoe cream
  • 1 mini brush (synthetic fiber)
  • 1 mini brush (horsehair)
  • 1 bamboo toothpick
  • 1 mini stain remover
  • 1 mini cloth (approx. 85mm x 380mm)
  • 1 shoeshine mouton glove cloth
  • Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio original box

Here is what I recommend about this W Cream Set.

Good Points
  • It contains two colors of shoe cream, black and colorless.
  • Two mini brushes are included, so you can use it to clean both black and brown leather shoes.
  • The price is around 4,000 Japanese yen (tax included) for two colors.
  • A stain remover is also included in the package.
  • Everything you need to take care of your leather shoes is included.

Here are negative points of the set.

Negative Points
  • The brushes are mini-type, so they are small.
  • One of the mini brushes is made of synthetic fiber, not pig hair.
  • The stain remover is a mini type, so it will run out quickly.

The mini-brushes are palm-sized and small, but they may be okay for women, but I think they are too small for men’s hands.

This set is the type that comes with two mini brushes, one for horsehair and one for synthetic fibers, so we use this set of mini brushes for shoes other than black .

Mini brush for colorless shoes

For black leather shoes, I bought an additional brush. Again, I recommend my favorite M. Mowbray brush.

【Horsehair brush

【Pig Hair Brush

I’ve been using a pig bristle brush for a while now, but if you’re looking to buy a pig bristle brush, I’d definitely recommend M. Mowbray pig bristle brush.

However, for men’s shoes, such as the deck shoes in this case, I believe a large brush would be easier to use.

For this reason, if you want to care for both black and other colored shoes from the start, you may want to buy a set that contains two large brushes each.

The full set of large brushes for two colors is available here.

Here are the contents of the set.

  • M.MOWBRAY Shoe Cream: neutral (colorless)
  • M.MOWBRAY Shoe Cream: black
  • 2 mini pig bristle brushes for applying shoe cream
  • 1 horsehair work brush
  • 1 pig bristle work brush (1 white, 1 black)
  • 1 bamboo toothpick
  • 1 Mowbray Stain Remover 60ml
  • 1 Mowbray Shoe Polish (neutral)
  • 1 piece of remover cloth
  • 1 shoe polish mouton cloth1 piece of cotton
  • Ginza Ohga Shoe Studio original box

A little pricey, but highly recommended set.


When I bought the set, this GOLD set of large brushes was not available, so if you buy now, this “GOLD” set of large brushes with W cream is the best choice.

[Summary] How to take care of brown leather shoes [recommended shoe polishing tools]

Summary of how to take care of brown shoes

In this article, I have detailed the steps to take care of brown leather shoes.


I have been polishing our shoes at home for about five years now, and it’s always nice to have clean shoes.

To be honest, it can be a bit of a hassle at times when you are busy, but once you get used to it, you can do it rather quickly, so why not give it a try?

At first, it will cost you some money to buy all the tools you need to polish your shoes one by one, so I recommend you buy a starter set that includes all the tools you need!

Please also see the article on how to polish black shoes.

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