How to Care for Snakeskin Shoes

Snakeskin shoes need regular maintenance or they will dry out and crack.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

You've spent a wad of money on those stylin' snakeskin pumps -- no fakes for you, you opted for the real deal. And now you want to protect that investment by treating your shoes right. Snakeskin is more delicate than other leathers, prone to drying out and cracking. Your shoes will need regular maintenance to keep them supple. Perform a simple routine after every wearing and your prized snakeskin beauties will last a lifetime or more.


Use an extra-soft brush such as a sable paintbrush to gently brush loose surface dirt and dust away from your shoes. Pretend you're an archaeologist with a rare and delicate artifact.


Lightly dampen a clean cotton cloth. Emphasis on "lightly"! Gently wipe down your shoes, moving in the same directions that the scales point in. Plain water should be enough to remove most surface dirt from a single wearing.


Condition your snakeskin shoes with a leather conditioner made especially for exotic skins, such as Lexol's. Don't use regular leather conditioner -- that's made for smooth leathers and will leave too much residue behind.


Polish your shoes, if you desire, with a neutral-colored cream polish. This step does not have to be performed after every wearing; rather, do it only as needed to keep up your shoes' shine.


Store your shoes out of direct light and protected from dust by a cloth bag or in their original shoebox. Make sure your storage space is fairly dry so as to prevent mold and mildew; make sure your shoes are fully dry before you put them away, too.

Things You'll Need


1.Soft brush

3.Exotic skin leather conditioner

5.Dust bag or shoebox

2.Clean cotton cloth

4.Neutral cream polish


Tips & Tricks


You can tell which direction snakeskin scales point in by running your hand along the leather. One way will be smooth, the other rough. Rough is "against the grain" and smooth is with the direction of the scales.

The best soft cotton cloths are simply old cloth diapers. The runner-up? Squares cut from old T-shirts.

You may have run across a tip to use clear furniture polish to shine up your snakeskin shoes. Don't listen! That polish can lift dye and damage the skin's proteins, leaving it looking worn out over time.

Never use any alcohol-based products on snakeskin. Alcohol is extremely drying and this will lead to dehydrated, crack-prone hide.

Don't use soap, either. Most soaps are full of very harsh chemicals that can really do a number on your delicate snakeskin.

Always clean your shoes before conditioning or polishing; otherwise, you're just sealing in dirt and shortening the life of your shoes.


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