The first pair of alligator shoes you buy is a turning point in your life. It's no different than buying your first luxury car. It tells you that you have arrived as a man with both style and means. To get the very most out of your investment, just like that luxury car, you need to know how to take care of your alligator shoes to get the very most out of them.
As you may very well know, your alligator shoes were completely made by hand by a skilled shoe artisan that has spent their entire adult life making fine shoes by hand. The skill and loving attention that these shoes are made with are not something that someone can learn overnight. It takes years to make these fine crafted reptile shoes which is why it is so very important to learn how to properly care for them.
Take Good Care of Your Gators and They Will Take Care of You.
What's The Best Way to take care of your new alligator shoes for keeping them looking their absolute very best. First off. Never wear a pair of shoes two days in a row. That's a rule. Any pair of fine shoes like alligator shoes need a day or more to completely air out all of the moisture that your feet were putting into them the day you were wearing them like a Don. The fine reptile leathers need to wick away that moisture which gives you more than the perfect reason to own several pairs.
The moisture of sweat has salts and other minerals in it and that is why it is important that your alligator shoes or any shoes for that matter dry slowly and naturally over a day or so and should not be worn ever two days in a row. The leather interiors of the shoes need that time to slowly wick away the perspiration properly.
Store Your Alligator Shoes Properly When You're Not Wearing Them.
When you're not wearing your alligator shoes, you want to store them properly. Don't just throw them into a closet all jumbled up with your old sneakers and boots. You want to literally park them in your closet like a fine automobile. Ideally, you should keep these hand crafted babies in soft flannel bags that many of them come in so they don't get covered in dust. Your closet should also be dry and dark as well because sunlight can do a number on the rich color of the leathers and prematurely age the shoes as well. Many big alligator shoe customers actually keep their shoes in the original boxes they came in stacked on shelves in their closets to protect them as much as possible. You want to keep your shoes dry and clean so they don't end up cracking on you from improper care.
Get Some Cedar Shoe Trees for all of your alligator shoes.
You want to invest in a collection of wooden shoe trees. Don't cheap out and buy those crappy plastic ones either. You want to buy real cedar wood shoe trees. There are a few varieties out there. Some have the adjustable heel stays and some have spring loaded heel stays. I like the spring loaded types. They are much easier to install and remove from the shoes. Either will work though. Don't share wooden shoe trees. Buy a set for each pair of alligator shoes you own. They deserve them. The wooden shoe trees will keep the shoes at the proper shape when they are not being worn and also help absorb the moisture as well. It also makes for a special moment when you're taking your alligator shoes out to wear and slip the shoes trees off. It reminds that these shoes are special.
When you're done wearing your alligator shoes, like mentioned previously. Don't just kick them off your feet into the closet or whatever. You need to care for them. Make sure that you immediately wipe off any dirt or dust that got onto them before putting them away. If they got any mud on them, you want to clean them immediately with a damp rag. Not wet. Wipe the shoes down and clean off the any mud that may have gotten onto them. If there are places where the rag won't reach, get an old toothbrush for the job and get into all of those scales and nooks and crannies. Now wipe the shoes down with a dry clean rag and properly put them away.
When it comes time to clean your alligator shoes, there are few products that are perfect for the job. Make sure you have a fine horse hair shoe shine brush, a stiffer boars hair brush and some saddle soap or even some reptile shoe cleaner if you insist. Always dry off your shoes completely and make sure they are indeed dry before you continue.
Get yourself a Horsehair shoe brush and some saddle soap, mink oils and shoe polishes.
If you're shoes need a good cleaning, then you're going to need to use some saddle soap. This is only if they really are starting to get dirty. If you keep them clean and wipe them down on a regular basis, the saddle soap won't be necessary. Lightly and I mean lightly rub some saddle soap onto the skin uppers of the shoes. The purpose of the saddle soap is for pulling and removing any dirt that worked it's way into the skin of your alligator shoes. You don't need to use much.less is always more when it comes to using saddle soap and this is only for the when the shoes really need a good cleaning if they have become soiled and the standard damp rag thing didn't do it's trick. The saddle soap will remove the dirt and sometimes the natural oil from the skin which is why you need to apply mink oil to your shoes next.
You want to apply some mink oil to the uppers of the shoes which works as a conditioner for the leather. It keeps the skins from drying because if you know anything about leathers, they have natural oils in the skin and eventually they evaporate from the leather causing the leather to become brittle unless you condition the skins with mink oil. When you use mink oil on your alligator shoes, you need to let it sit for at least an hour so the mink oil penetrates the scales and creases on the skin. This is longer than necessary on basic leather that doesn't require that long a time. On lighter color alligator shoes, it may darken the color, so use as little as possible. The use of mink oil every now and then will keep the skin of your alligator shoes like new. You want to let the mink oil stay on the shoes for an hour or so allowing the mink oil to properly penetrate the leather and do what it is intended to do.
Once you have let the mink oil do it's magic, it's time to wipe it off. Take a dry rag of course and give them a proper rub down followed by your shoe shine brush and buff them good. It may take some effort to really get all of the mink oil residue out of all of the scales in the skin. You should get a nice shine going on those shoes if you do it properly. After you are finished with the mink oil step, it's time to polish the shoes. I always recommend using a wax style polish such as Kiwi because it gives the leather a much better layer of protection than the cream polishes do.
If you have some scuffs on your shoes and wish to camouflage them, you will need to use a colored shoes polish for your alligator shoes. Now bear in mind that you should not use colored shoe polishes every time you polish your gators. Remember these aren't calf skin shoes. Only use the colored shoe polish when you need to and use clear or neutral shoe polish most of the time you polish your shoes.
If you insist on using cream shoe polish you can. You can use the cream polish for your alligator shoes but the key to success is to let the cream polish completely dry on the shoes. This can take about a good hour or so for cream polish to completely dry on the shoes. If the cream is not dry, it will neither penetrate the leather nor provide that shell of protection either. That is why I prefer using wax polish on alligator shoes. You don't have to wait as long for the wax to penetrate and seal before you buff them out. With wax polish, you only need to let the shoes sit for about 15 minutes or so before you buff them out.
It's always best to use the mink oil and shoe polish on your shoes when the shoe trees are installed. The reason is that the shoe trees put your alligator shoes in their original shape and any creases that you have gotten on your shoes are minimizes allowing the for the product to get into those nooks and crannies better. I also recommend keeping a collection of old toothbrushes that are dedicated for specific colors of shoe polishes as well because they are simply the best tool for properly applying shoe polish to alligator shoes and getting into all of those nooks and crannies of the alligator skin.
Now that you have become enlightened on how to care for your alligator shoes, don't think you're quite out of the woods just yet. If by chance you wear your alligator shoes in the rain, not because you wanted to but simply got caught in a rain storm that wasn't on the weather forecast. You will need to take extra care when you do get back home. You will have some shoe maintenance to take care of immediately. Do not let them just sit.
The first thing you need to do is thoroughly wipe your shoes down on the outside with a clean rag and get any mud and dirt like mentioned previously. The second thing is that you should never let your shoes air dry or put them next to a heater. That is a big No, No. That is how the skins of alligator shoes get ruined and must never be done. You need to absorb the moisture both inside and out. Once you have dried the outside of the shoes, it's time to properly dry the inside of the shoes as well.
Remember, these shoes are full leather lined so that's important as well as you don't want the moisture to ruin the leather and dry it out. I recommend taking some newspaper and stuffing them and letting the newspaper absorb the moisture inside. You may have to do this step several times to completely dry out the inside of the shoes. Do not even think about using a blow dryer. This might take some time but it must be done right.
Once you the shoes are dry on the inside, then and only then should you install the shoe trees and put them away.
When you learn how to properly care for your alligator shoes, you can literally wear them for a life time. Sure you may need to have the shoes resoled at some point but the uppers will be in great condition and will give the most for your hard earned investment. You'll be enjoying your shoes for years and years and start to acquire quite a collection.