Friday, September 15, 2017

Question for the Community: Cleaning and Conditioning Sperry A/O Topsiders


A Question for the Community:
I wear my Sperry A/O Topsiders (dark brown) all the time, including most days at the office.  Does anyone have advice and experience with cleaning and conditioning their Sperrys?  I am considering mink oil or Red Wing boot oil; any other thoughts?
Boat Shoes: Sperry A/O Topsiders


31 comments:

  1. I swear by Lexol brand leather conditioner, and not just for shoes. My Lotuff briefcase has benefitted from it as well.

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    1. Great stuff. Also works on my car seats.

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    2. Lexol is excellent for shoes - also used for conditioning baseball (fielding) gloves, since Rawlings changed their formula for Glovolium. Since I share a birthday with Yaz (several years later for me!) I thought a bit of baseball trivia to this topic would be fun.

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  2. My method: 1. Use leather cleaener (Tierowa, a german product.) 2. Let them dry over night. 3. Treat them with colorless shoe pomade (Burgol, a swiss product.). 4. They get new laces once a year.

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  3. I recommend Quoddy's Organic Waterproofer for conditioning leather boat shoe uppers. Made from bear fat and Maine beeswax.

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  4. I second the recommendation of Quoddy's waterproofing wax. It conditions the leather and helps keep the shoes dry. After application, let the shoes absorb the waterproofer overnight. Then, be sure to wipe off any excess. The wax tends to collect dirt particles, but wiping down the shoes solves the problem.

    Aiken

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  5. I use Obenauf's boot oil and buy it by the pint. It really doesn't do much for waterproofing and is not a wax but it keeps the leather looking fresh and flexible. I'm sure similar products work just as well and there are several. I wouldn't use shoe polish, though, since that changes the look.

    I also use Obenauf's boot dressing sometimes but usually just on boots. The idea is to keep the leather soft and flexible and to prevent it from drying out.

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  6. As many of you know I survived Harvey and used and abused my Topsiders. Any suggestions to save them? Waded in 2-3ft of water several hrs. They are on a shelf in garage, I am afraid to look.

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    1. Hair of the dog and shoe trees. Remove the insole, rinse insoles and shoes in clean water, brush with a bristle brush to remove debris, work off any residues. Dry down thoroughly with old clean towel. Don't put insoles back in just yet; insert shoe trees in shoes to your size. Allow shoes & insoles to dry thoroughly naturally - this may take a day or two. Apply any of the products that fellow SWNE-ers have recommended or your own favorite (mine Skidmore's) - leave overnight; next day buff, apply more & buff. I would leave shoes trees in for a week, afterwhich your Topsiders should be in good shape, insert insoles. In the absence of shoe trees I have stuffed with newspaper, but need to be careful to retain shape & not over stretch. Kiwi (neutral), Meltonian or any leather product you may have on hand will work. I have even used petroleum jelly (in the boondocks doing field work). P.S. Better your Topsiders than you ;) - bless you.

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    2. Glad you survived, Govteach, and your topsiders as well. The above suggestion was thorough and I agree with it. Clean them thoroughly, air them, use any products recommended, to clean and soften the leather. If you're still concerned, and I wouldn't blame you, head out for a new pair. But, I know, they're just not the same!

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  7. I like using saddle soap on my sperry topsider to keep it clean and soft.

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  8. I swear by Nikwax water-based leather care products. Water is the vehicle for the active agent, penetrates the leather, then evaporates and leaves the good stuff behind. Use the cleaner and treatment - green (bottle cap) to clean, purple to 'proof. Avoid oils - yes, they rehydrate and soften the leather, but to a degree that shortens the life of the item. Nikwax is usually available in outdoor shops and tack shops.

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  9. One of the things I have found with boat shoes made by Sperry and Quoddy (I don’t know about other makers) is that the insoles provided are too flimsy to provide much support. I use the “Superfeet” insoles in my boat shoes. What a beneficial difference this makes.

    I am also about to send my boat shoes back to Quoddy for a re-soling and re-conditioning. I’d be curious to know if anyone has used this service and if the results were worth it?

    Aiken

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  10. I've always used plain old Kiwi brand saddle soap for my topsiders and have had no troubles at all. As the can says; "[It] Clans, softens and preserves." I don't know if the saddle soap eats away at or deteriorates the stitching, but I've had a couple of pairs of topsiders start falling apart at the seams after about 3 or 4 years of use.

    Regarding Red Wing Shoes Mink Oil (with Silicone & Lanolin. Waterproofs, Conditions, Softens). I've used it on my work boots, and while it does condition and soften, I feel it softened to the point of allowing the leather to stretch further. Mind you, the boots have seen about 6 years of very heavy use--I'm a machinist--but they feel like they've gotten larger since I've used the mink oil. The product really does make them look nice, however. I cannot speak to it's ability to waterproof.

    I'm going to stick with the saddle soap and forgo the mink oil in the future. Hope that helps.

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  11. I have brought dead, dried out leather Coach bags bag to life with Blackrock Leather 'N' Rich. The stuff is amazing and easy to use.

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  12. I should have also mentioned Sno-Seal, a dressing sold as a waterproofing agent. It works tolerably well. All of these products and a few others are pretty much the same but there are differences. Some will darken leather, especially the ones with pine tar. Some here claim the leather is stretched, which may happen with some, I suppose. The object of all of them, however, is, among other things, is to restore the leather to its original condition, which should be soft and flexible. Wetting leather will always make it stiff and hard when it dries out and prone to cracking, if not well treated. Just don't go overboard with the oils and conditioners. For seriously wet conditions, use rubber boots and shoes or boat shoes with fabric tops.

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  13. My husband swears by Neatsfoot oil.

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  14. Uh, am I missing something here? Topsiders are boat shoes. The leather is meant to be soaked and dried and soaked and dried over and over again without cracking or getting brittle. In fact, when I still sailed, every couple years when I got a new pair the first thing I did was soak them in a bucket of water and then wear them all day. They dried form fitted to my feet. It is beyond my understanding why anyone would apply anything to their topsiders. If they get too dirty for you, just rinse them off under the faucet then wear them all afternoon to dry.

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    1. You are right, Dave. That is the experience I've had with my Topsiders, but I gathered from this post that I had done something wrong by not treating my shoes. In fact, I originally broke mine in the same way as you by wetting them. They wear like iron and seem indestructible.

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    2. The trouble is this, after about 4 hours of standing in who knows what was in it flood waters, I debate wearing them again. For sanitary reasons alone I may buy a new pair. There is nothing better than walking into your garage and a small perch is swimming by the wall.

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    3. I'm local to you and also did OK with our recent unpleasantness. As for floodwater contaminated leather footwear, I would never wear it again. Treat yourself to a new pair and don't look back.

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    4. Agreed, but for the salvage oriented - you could dunk them in a pail of water with a bit of bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

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  15. One other maintenance tip I've heard for topsiders is get some sandpaper and sand the bottoms of the soles. They tend to harden or get slippery and lose their ability to grip. Sanding the bottoms is the only known cure to keep from having to toss them out and buy a new pair every sailing season.

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  16. I brush the dirt of and apply a soft beeswax based leather cream/waterproofing. Give them some time to absorb the wax and brush off the excess. This keeps the leather nourished, flexible and gives them back their natural shine. I do ths maybe once a month depending on the abuse I put the shoes through.

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  17. OK. You will never believe this one. But here is what I do. I wear Topsiders (AO) everyday. Everyday. I wash them is the washer with Gain (powder). Take them out put shoe stretchers in them and set them on my front porch to air dry. Sometimes they sit for days. I have like 20 pairs.
    If you like you can wipe some Kiwi saddle soap over them. But that's it.
    My god their boat shoes.
    But I do live in FL so they dry quick.
    And I never toss a pair of AO's. They become beach shoes when they get old.

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  18. Saphir Medaille D'Or Pommadier Cream Polish.

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  19. The bucket of water treatment sound very manly and practical, what I imagine Hemingway would do with any boat shoes allowed on Pilar (if he even allowed them, I think he preferred bare feet). But in the interests of preserving them for longer than a few years and adding them to the enormous amount of garments already being discarded (see 7/11/17 post on this fine blog), I am using Bick 4 leather conditioner from the tack section of the local fleet/farm store; under $10 a bottle.

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  20. i don't waterproof mine, never have, and highly recommend against it. For cleaning, saddle soap works as well as anything. For conditioning, either Lexol Leather Conditional or Angelus Leather Balm have worked well for me.

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  21. The leather used on sperry's is quite different from that of the leather on Quoddys. The quoddy's will take in the natural oils and waxes whereas the sperrys will kinda resist them. I think a little treatment on a boat shoe is a good idea, dry leather is ok but can begin to crack and become even less water resistant. Oils and waxes can be overdone and not allow the leather to breathe. So there is a balance to achieve. Use sparingly and treat them perhaps once a year. I think the more chemically potions that some have mentioned may be a better bet for the leather on Sperrys.

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  22. I have used Pecard and Obenauf's products for a good number of years on my upland game boots from Russell Moccasin of Berlin, Wisconsin and my hiking boots from various manufacturers in Europe. One of my pair of boots that is still going strong with regular treatment from Pecard products is now almost 50 years old.

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