how to fix peeling leather

Leather shoes are a great addition to your shoe closet. They not only help elevate your entire look but also add a touch of maturity to your persona. 

Leather shoes are a great choice for interviews, corporate meetings and formal events. It’s a good idea to invest in a faux leather pair until you can save up for the real deal.

Whether you own a pair of real leather shoes or faux ones, you need to provide your shoes with constant care and maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Unfortunately, if not properly cared for, the shoes can develop lots of issues such as cracking, discoloration or peeling.

In this guide, I’m going to tackle the issue of peeling leather shoes. I will be talking about two very important points on how to fix peeling leather shoes.

Section One: How to Prevent Shoes from Peeling

In the case of peeling leather, you need to understand that if the damage is extensive, it is not entirely treatable. 

In some cases, a professional cobbler or shoe repair store might be able to help you but in most cases of severe damage, you will have to exchange your shoes for a new pair.

Which is why it is really important to focus on prevention rather than the cure. I have compiled a list of preventive measures you can take to keep your leather shoes in good condition.

Storing Leather Shoes

Perhaps the most important out of all these points is to pay attention to how you store your leather shoes.

There are a few simple things you need to take care of when thinking of appropriately storing your leather shoes.

  • First off, always store your leather shoes after cleaning them. If your shoes have some dirt of muck at the end of the day, clean them first before stashing them away.
    If your shoes are dirty for a long period of time, the dirt can get absorbed into the fabric and cause the shoes to peel away over time.
  • Secondly, always make sure you have ample storage space for all your shoes. Don’t layer them one on top of the other and definitely don’t randomly throw them in the shoe closet.
    Shoe heels from one shoe can easily scuff the leather on another shoe’s toe box.
  • When storing your leather shoes, always make sure you use some sort of support to keep their shape intact. If the shape of the shoe becomes uneven, it can promote cracking or peeling of the leather.
    You can use a wooden shoe tree to prevent this but a cheaper alternative could just be using balled up pieces of old newspaper to do the trick.
    The newspaper will also help absorb any moisture that accidentally gets to the shoe lining, keeping your shoes in proper condition.
  • Leather items such as shoes and bags cannot tolerate extreme temperatures. The place where you store your leather shoes, whether real or fake, should not too be hot or humid.The storage space should be cool and dry and away from direct sunlight or sources of heat and moisture. Sunlight, heat or dampness can cause your shoes to get discolored or peel away over time.

Cleaning Leather Shoes

  • Opt for a smooth microfiber cloth to clean the surface of your leather boots instead of going for a shoe brush. Even though a shoe brush sounds like the way to go since it’s literally called a ‘shoe’ brush but it can actually damage the surface of your leather shoes over time. The abrasiveness of the bristles is not good for the delicate leather.
  • Always airdry your leather shoes! Never expose leather to a direct heat source such as a heater, fireplace or a hair dryer. Direct heat can cause the water molecules in the fabric to evaporate rapidly, causing uneven shrinking and over drying. This can lead to peeling and cracking of the leather.
  • I’ve mentioned this above but I’ll mention it again. Make sure your shoes are clean before storing or using them. If you live in a snowy area, it won’t be uncommon for you to notice salt stain on your shoes.
  • Salt can hasten the process of the disintegration of your shoes. You can take care of the stains using a mixture of water and vinegar dipped in a soft cloth.
Peeling leather shoes

Section Two: How to Fix Faux Leather Peeling Shoes

Real leather will only peel in very few circumstances. If your leather shoes are peeling off, it’s probable that they are actually made of bonded leather or faux leather. 

This type of leather is of inferior quality and can dry out quicker than real leather and also start peeling within a year or two of purchase.

Oftentimes, the price of the faux leather shoe will not be high enough for you to invest in its repair. In that case it’s always easier to toss out the old pair and invest in a new one.

However, if you are adamant in fixing the pair and are feeling adventurous, you can try the following method at home.


  • 180 grit sandpaper
  • Permanent Marker
  • Shoe polish
  • Shoe goo
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Even out surface

Using a 180-grit sandpaper, rub out any loose and flaky pieces of peeling leather off your shoes. Use tight circles with ample pressure to smooth out the surface as much as you can.

Step 2: Colour the cracks

Choose a permanent marker that matches the color of your shoes. Using this permanent marker, fill in the cracks where the peeled of leather has been removed.

Step 3: Polish your shoes

Dip a cloth in high quality leather shoe polish and using long strokes, polish your shoe thoroughly.

Step 4: Cover with Shoe Goo

Using a paintbrush, cover the surface of the entire shoe with Shoe Goo. You can buy Shoe Goo from any department store or online.

Let the goo dry for 24-36 hours. Once dry, your shoe is ready to wear!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can peeling leather shoes be repaired?

Real leather hardly ever peels. If your leather shoe is peeling, it might be fake or bonded leather. 

If it’s a small scuff or peel, the shoe can be repaired by using some shoe dye/permanent marker and some shoe good. 

Often times the damage is so extensive that it’s cheaper to buy a new pair.

How do you fix peeling leather?

Peeling leather can be fixed by using some sand paper, shoe polish, leather dye and shoe goo.

Why are my leather shoes peeling?

Leather shoes, if not properly cared for, can start to peel. If your leather shoes are peeling after a short couple of years of usage, they might not be made from real leather. 

Intense exposure to heat, humidity or poor storage and care can cause leather shoes to peel.

How do I stop my shoes from peeling?

Make sure you store and clean your leather shoes properly to prevent them from peeling. Clean your shoes regularly before storage and use a soft cloth instead of a hard shoe brush to clean them. 

Store them in a cool, dry place with ample room and no chance of scuffing caused by friction from other shoes.

Store them with balled up newspapers or professional shoe trees to maintain their shape.


If you want to stay away from peeling leather shoes, the first thing you need to do is invest in a good quality pair. 

Read up on which leather shoes are the best and deserve your time and attention. Once you get the leather shoe of your dreams, take care of it like a baby!

Follow the care instructions as per the retailer and as per the guide mentioned above to ensure years upon years of usage.

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