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Is Vaseline Good For Leather Shoes?

brown shoes, lace-up shoes, brown leather shoes-1150071.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one of my prized leather shoes needed a bit of love and care. It was looking pretty scuffed up, with stains all over the upper.

Scratch marks on leather shoe
Scratch marks on the back of the shoe

Nothing that any quality leather cleaner can’t handle.

So, I went to my supplies closet to get my favorite leather conditioner, but my eyes fell upon something else.

Vaseline. Or petroleum jelly if you are a snob.

So I decided to do a little experiment.

I decided to use Vaseline to make my shoes look brand new. Here’s what I learned –

Vaseline is definitely good for leather shoes. It can remove scratches, restore shoe color, make your shoes waterproof, and even make them soft and shiny.

Here’s how.

Vaseline Can Remove Scratches

Vaseline was easily able to remove the minor scratches that had come to define the look of my shoes. Really, it took less than a minute for the Vaseline to work its magic.

So, how do you clean a leather shoe with Vaseline?

Simple. Take some Vaseline on your finger. Rub it over the scratches or the scuff marks on your shoes. Don’t use a cloth, as it would absorb the Vaseline immediately. Let the shoes absorb it, and then wipe with a dry cloth.

Vaseline Can Restore Shoe Color

Another bonus point for using Vaseline on your leather shoes – it was able to restore the original color of my shoes!

Before applying Vaseline
After applying Vaseline

Although you might not see a lot of difference on the camera, but trust me, the difference was enough for a friend to think that I had gotten new shoes!

To restore shoe color, rub Vaseline all over the shoe. Make sure that you don’t miss any part, because we don’t want our shoes to be two-toned (unless that’s what you are going for).

Leave the shoes in a dry place and let the leather absorb the Vaseline. Done!

Vaseline Can Make Your Shoes Waterproof

To be honest, I noticed this one by sheer accident. I had done my little experiment, and decided to wear my restored leather shoes to work.

But New York decided to be a little extra New York-y.

I got drenched. But more importantly, my shoes got drenched too. Or so I thought.

When I reached the office, I realized something. My shoes were practically dry.

Vaseline can ensure that your leather shoes remain waterproof for quite some time. But remember, this is not a long-term way to waterproof your shoes. For that, you must invest in some good quality waterproof sprays.

Vaseline Can Make Your Shoes Soft And Shiny

Granted, there are only a few times when you would want your leather shoes to be super shiny – Patent Leather shoes being the obvious example.

Using a shoe polish would be a more ideal choice for shine. But if you are attending a wedding and someone stepped on your foot, you can’t just start furiously polishing right away. Speaking from experience, it tends to raise a few eyebrows.

That’s where good’ol Vaseline comes in.

Vaseline can easily make your shoes shiny. All you need to do is to take it a scoop of it, and rub it all over the shoe. Next, take a paper towel, and rub that all over the shoe.

We are going to use the paper towel because we don’t want the leather to absorb the Vaseline; we want a surface level shine.

How To Apply Vaseline To Your Leather Shoe

So what is the best way to apply Vaseline to your shoe? It’s not that complicated –

  1. Clean the leather upper with a dry cloth. Try to get rid of all the major scuffs and dirt marks.
  2. Take a generous amount of Vaseline, and rub it all over the shoes with your finger.
  3. Buff off any extra petroleum jelly using a paper or a dry cloth.
  4. Place the shoes in a dry and airy location for a few hours to let the leather absorb the Vaseline.

Can Vaseline Be Applied To Suede Shoes?

One final thing –

Never apply Vaseline to your suede shoes. This can cause discoloration and leave colored spots all over the suede upper.

If you want to find out more information about cleaning suede shoes, you can check out this article that we posted a few days ago.


Even though Vaseline is amazing, it is not a long-term solution to any of these problems. It may help you in a pinch, but you definitely need to invest in some quality leather-specific products if you care about your shoes.

2 thoughts on “Is Vaseline Good For Leather Shoes?”

  1. Hi I have seen this site a lot and I have gotten a lot of information.So today I read this and I was wondering,can I use Vaseline on my cowboy boots? I want them to look nice and not wrecked.

    1. Yes, you can definitely use Vaseline on your cowboy boots. The degree of effectiveness will vary from shoe to shoe, but in general, it is a good idea to use Vaseline to restore old boots.

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