The Dos and Don’ts of Moccasin Care
Knowing how to care for your moccasins will ensure that you enjoy them for years to come. There are just a few simple tips to keep in mind when caring for your moccasins.
Do treat your leather moccasin before wearing them. This will prevent stains and go a long way to making your future cleaning easier. Select the right product for your moccasin’s type of leather and be sure to apply to the sole of the moccasin. There are specific products for smooth leather, suede and nubuck (which is softer than suede.) If you know you will be wearing your moccasin out in snow or rain consider applying a coat of mink oil/beeswax mix – simply heat to melt the mix, then apply with a paint brush to the sole of the moccasin and let dry.
Don’t wear your soft sole moccasins when you know you will be walking on a lot of concrete pavement. It would be a bad idea to wear a soft soled moccasin on a marathon, in a parade, or to an amusement park all day. Although soft soled moccasins can be worn outside and leather is a tough material, it was never meant for hours and hours of exposure to concrete. The rugged surface will significantly shorten the life of your moccasin. Even the Plains Indians who walked on some rocky surfaces wore hard soled moccasins, so take a lesson from them about walking on hard surfaces with soft soled moccasins. Consider wearing only hard-soled moccasins on such occasions.
Do use lukewarm water to clean sheepskin moccasins. Very hot water will damage the delicate fibers and stiffen up the feeling of sheepskin by matting the natural fibers.
Don’t wear unprotected leather moccasins out in the rain. One of the first things you want to do is spray a water protectant on your suede moccasins. Water will damage any moccasin, but suede is especially vulnerable to its effects. (Be sure to spray in a well-ventilated space. I find the water protectant sprays give me terrible headaches.)
Do make sure your leather is warm before you clean or protect it. Warm leather fibers are more relaxed and able to soak up the cleaning creams or protectant sprays than cold leather.
Don’t use straight lines or rub hard when you apply your cleaning creams. Be sure to use gentle, circular motions when applying products. This will ensure even application and protect your leather from damage that is possible when applying products too vigorously.
Do use a good quality saddle soap for smooth leather moccasins to clean surface dirt. Once you are certain your smooth leather moccasin is clean, apply a leather conditioner to lubricate and soften the leather. A polish paste can be used on the top of the moccasin in some sheen is desired. Remember with leather, your goal is to keep it hydrated, supple and durable.
Do use a rubber tipped brush on suede to keep the nap fresh and upright. Poorly cared for suede will end up with flattened fibers and won’t feel as soft to the touch.
Don’t soak leather in water when cleaning. It is much better to use a damp rag and the right cleaner than to immerse your moccasin in water. Blot your moccasins to dry them and let the air finish the drying process. Never stick them in a dryer.
By keeping these dos and don’ts in mind your moccasins will last for years and develop their own natural and unique character as they age.