Let’s start with the obvious… soccer cleats are very important to a soccer player. You want them to fit well. You want them to work great as you slice and dice through the field. You want them to help you reach your potential as a player. Many players opt for a leather cleat because of these reasons. A leather upper will generally mold itself to a player’s foot and a good leather cleat can last for a long time IF it is taken care of. Remember, soccer is a performance sport and unlike any other game the player’s shoes take a huge beating. You have to respect the fact that despite what you may have paid for the shoes (anywhere from $80 – $250) they won’t last more than a short season if you don’t take care of them. Even the most expensive cleats will fall apart if you treat them poorly. Think of it like an expensive sports car… just because you paid a lot of money for it doesn’t mean it will run forever without taking great care of it. As a matter of fact, if you have a beautiful car you tend to take even better care of it and treat it with extra special attention. We recommend the same attitude towards your pair of leather soccer cleats. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of them.
FIRST: MAKE SURE YOUR SHOES FIT – INSIDE!
When you first buy a pair of shoes try them on inside so they still are in NEW condition if you need to return them. Don’t actually play with them! If you wear them on artificial turf and run around too much you may cause scratches and scuffs that make the shoe un-returnable. First, just try them on and make sure they feel good on your feet. A leather shoe will form to your foot but it will not shrink in length. Expect some softening so a shoe that is snug will fit very well. A shoe that is horribly tight will not ‘get better after a few practices’.
KEEP ‘EM PRETTY
After each game and practice you need to take them off your feet by UNTYING the laces and then removing the shoes. Stepping on the back of the heel to pry your foot out will cause damage to the heel and possibly affect the fit and the lifespan of the shoe. Once the shoes are off your feet remove all mud and other particles by tapping them together — kinda like clapping with your shoes. By removing the big pieces of dirt and mud you are helping the material breathe and dry naturally. And, you are helping keep your soccer bag clean, too.
LET THEM BREATHE
You don’t need to walk around in socks. Slip on some sandals or other shoes after practice and games.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE CLEATS
Are you playing every day? Awesome! You might want to consider an extra pair to practice in. Having a pair of cleats that can be rotated in with your favorite shoes is a good idea. It let’s them dry naturally and reduces that amount of wear and tear they suffer during the season.
NEXT: TIME TO CLEAN YOUR SHOES!!
So, you are ready to clean your leather shoes. That’s a great decision. Here are some tips on what to do and not to do. Both are very important. If you are ready to clean your leather shoes you need a cloth and a pan with warm, soapy water. Any mild detergent will do fine. If you can remove the insole that’s a good idea but not necessary. You will not and you never should submerge your cleats in the water. You will only use the damp cloth with soapy water to brush the dirt off the shoes. Leather that is soaked and forced to dry and then get soaked again will show damage over time. Just use enough water to remove the dirt. You will get to ‘polish’ the shoes later. Use the cloth and just a couple of fingers to apply pressure on the shoe by rubbing gently. Rinse out the cloth frequently in the pan of water. Once all the dirt is removed take a dry part of the cloth and lightly rub the shoes until they are “clean” but still damp.
NEVER DRY WITH DIRECT HEAT
To dry your leather shoes without damaging them you should set them close to a floor vent in your house or put a gentle fan on them. It may take overnight for them to dry completely but it’s worth it. Do NOT use a hair dryer, put them outside in the sun or toss them in the oven or microwave. Remember, these shoes will help you score lots of goals and deserve your patience in the drying time.
USE LEATHER POLISH AND SHOE POLISH
After shoes have dried to keep the color and enhance protection you can consider a leather food, mink oil or leather conditioner. They will nourish the leather and give them a softer feel. Don’t over do it though. You want soft leather but it still has to be strong enough to keep its shape when you are cutting left and right on the field. Leather that is overly soft may over-stretch and eventually lose its shape. That will cause your foot to slide around as you play and possibly create blisters.
Bonus Tip: Are you worried about the stink of your shoes?
Try some foot powder directly on your feet — not between the sock and the shoe. Believe me, the stink if coming from your feet and the powder needs to be next to the source. We are also not sure if the powder might dry the leather out too quickly.
Following these rules will help maximize the life of your leather soccer cleats. Now go have fun playing soccer!