Caring for your ON Y VAs!

Stepped in a puddle?  A splash of olive oil while cooking? Someone tread on your foot? All while wearing your fav pair of ON Y VAs?  A heart sinking feeling! 

Our Spanish avarcas (sandals) are made with beautiful soft leathers of incredible quality, which is one of the reasons they're so comfy!  However, when life happens and they get a little dirty, what do we do?  Here are some fool proof tips to keeping your avarcas looking beautiful...

First to explain the difference between our 2 main leather components... Genuine leather, also known as full grain leather, and Nubuck leather, which is often mistaken for suede leather due to similarities in texture and feel.  The difference between these leather types is very simple, it depends of which part of the leather is used and how it has been processed. 

Genuine, or full grain leather, refers to the type of leather that has not been sanded during the tanning process due to the fact that there are no defects in the leather.  Whereas, nubuck leather undergoes a sanding process which gives it a velvety look and feel. 

When it comes to maintaining your leather shoes, it is important to pick the correct brush and/or cleaning product according to the leather type.  There are many varieties on the market, however, over the years we have discovered a few favourites which we'd like to share with you. 

For cleaning our Genuine leather pairs, our first port of call is using a damp, colourless cloth with a little bit of mild soap.  Wipe along the grain of the leather and remove the excess soap with a clean damp cloth and allow to air dry.  The colour of the leather will darken slightly when dampened, but it will go back to its original colour once dry so don't fret! 

The damp cloth option usually does the trick, however, if further cleaning is required, Genuine Leather Cleaner may also be used.  We like the Plush Leather Cleaner available at Cape Union Mart, but any brand should do the same job.  Shake it well then release the foam onto a surface, dip a soft cloth into the foam and wipe onto the leather.

For cleaning our Nubuck leather pairs, we also suggest firstly using a damp, colourless cloth with a little bit of gentle soap and wiping along the grain of the leather.  Remove excess soap with clean, damp cloth and allow to air dry.  The colour of the Nubuck leather will also darken slightly, but again, it will return to its original colour once dry.

Again, if further cleaning is required, Suede & Nubuck Cleaner may also be used.  We like the Colby  Suede & Leather Cleaner, also available at Cape Union Mart, but any other brand with the same product should work well too.  Spray the product onto the leather from a 20cm distance, taking caution not to saturate the leather.  While still damp, wipe the leather with a clean, dry cloth, to remove dirt.  Allow to dry.

Once the Nubuck leather is dry, take a Nubuck or Suede brush to the leather.  Nubuck brushes can also be found at Cape Union Mart or any store with shoe cleaning supplies.  Typically, one side of the brush has nylon/brass bristles and the other side has short rubber nibs, perfect for maintaining and protecting the texture of your Nubuck leather shoes.

For oil or grease stains, tackle them quickly with a touch of talcum powder or corn starch.  Dab a little powder or corn starch onto the grease stain and leave it for a few minutes to absorb the oil. Carefully remove the powder or corn starch with a vacuum cleaner, your Nubuck brush or a soft cloth.  Repeat and leave powder/corn starch on for longer if necessary.

Alternative cleaning tricks using everyday items:

If you're away from home and unable to source the above leather cleaning tools, here are two items you may have on you that can also be helpful.  A clean eraser can be used on a dirty spot - most successfully on Nubuck leather especially. Rub gently on the mark going along the direction of the grain of the leather, then wipe away eraser residue with a dry, soft nail brush or cloth (or your Nubuck brush).  Mild baby wipes can also be used to spot clean your leather shoes, they are gentle enough to not harm the leather and they also have moisturising properties to condition.

For cleaning pairs that have canvas or fabric over leather, such as our beautiful white Spanish lace Madonna Lilies, we have had great success with a soft nailbrush or old toothbrush and a gentle detergent like Woolite.  Rinse carefully and air dry.

We hope this is a helpful guide to ensure your ON Y VAs live a long, happy life while they take you from one adventure to the next!