Leather & Shoe

Care 101

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Leather & Shoe Care 101

Griffin Item FAQ’s


I have a Shinemaster. What can you tell me about them?IMGP9560-e1809

Griffin has had a few owners since Tony Aste founded it in 1890. Unfortunately, a lot of that company history got lost through the years. We’ve been able to piece together some of it.




Here’s what we do know:

– Griffin’s Shinemaster was invented by Tony Aste in or around 1889.  Aste was a big proponent of “do-it-yourself” products and all of our items represent that same philosophy today.

– The Shinemaster started out being used at horse race tracks, where Aste was referred to as the “King of the Bootblacks.” His shines were known as being the best and a lot of that had to do with the raised Shinemaster. It made the shoes and boots easier to clean, which gave them a better polish. He later founded Griffin with the money he earned at the horse tracks shining boots and shoes with his polish formulas and Shinemaster.

–  Aste filed for a patent of the Shinemaster in 1919. Unfortunately, a few other companies had already knocked off his design at this point. Esquire, which is now a part of the Griffin family of brands, and Kiwi also had similar boxes. The Griffin Shinemasters are the most widely known.

-Original shoe shine boxes looked like this:


So, when Aste came out with the Shinemaster with a dedicated shoe/boot holder you can see why it caught on so quickly.


-View the Shinemaster Patent

– We do not have any Shinemaster parts or badges. We do own a few Shinemasters, and estimate their value to be around $50. If you’re interested in purchasing one, there are many for sale on Etsy and Ebay. These sales are not at all affiliated with Griffin Shoe Care.

– Aste, before anything else was an avid horse racing fan. He bought Ascott Stables in New York with money he’d earned from Griffin. He was also an inventor. He had six other patents which revolutionized the shoe care industry and are reflected in our packaging today.

-View Aste’s Other Patents

If you have any further questions on the Shinemasters or Griffin products please email us and we’ll try to help. marketing@griffinshoecare.com


Griffin Liquid Polish/Scuff Cover/Dye/Heel&Sole

Q: How do I use _______?

A: We always recommend cleaning and drying before using this product. Shake bottle, and apply with the applicator on top in a uniform coat. Let dry before using.

Q: The product made my item look dull and streaky. What happened? 

A: One or two things could have happened. Did you clean the item before applying the product? If you didn’t, dirt is likely causing it to look this way. If you cleaned it it likely needs a little help getting buffed out. Take soft cloth and buff the item to a shine until dullness and streaks are removed.

Q: I spilled ____ on my carpet/etc how do I remove it?

A: Unfortunately our products are made to last and aren’t removed easily. If you spill it on something, immediately try and wash with soap and water. We’ve heard of success with paint thinner.



Griffin Spit Shine

Q: How do I use Spit Shine?

A: Simply spray in a uniform coat. With smooth leathers, wipe with cloth. With pebbly or textured leathers spray on and allow to dry. Do not wipe.

Griffin Paste Polish

Q: How do I use Paste Polish?

A: Paste polish should be used whenever an item has lost it’s shine. We recommend cleaning and conditioning the item first, then applying a light coat of polish with a dauber or rag, then buffing out.

Q: I used paste polish and my item has white streaks, what did I do wrong?

A: We see this happen when the item wasn’t cleaned beforehand. If you didn’t clean it we recommend cleaning the shoe and reapplying the polish. If it was clean, the cause of the streaks is that it’s likely not buffed out enough.


Griffin Crème Polish

Q: What is the difference between crème and paste polish?

A: It’s only a matter of preference.

Q: I used creme polish and my item has white streaks, what did I do wrong?

A: We see this happen when the item wasn’t cleaned beforehand. If you didn’t clean it we recommend cleaning the shoe and reapplying the polish. If it was clean, the cause of the streaks is that it’s likely not buffed out enough.


Griffin Leather Conditioner

Q: What are the ingredients in Leather Conditioner?

A: Our leather conditioner formula is one of our trade secrets. We can’t provide a list of ingredients, but we can tell you that Griffin Leather Conditioner is a blend of natural moisturizers.

Q: How often should I use leather conditioner?

A: New items should be pretreated with leather conditioner and periodically depending on how often you use them. We generally recommend applying conditioner once a week if the item is used daily.

Q: How do I apply leather conditioner:

A: Use a clean, lint fee cloth and pour a quarter size amount on the cloth and massage in a circular motion into the leather.  Let dry, and buff with a shine cloth if needed. We recommend applying water & stain repellent after the item is dry and  buffed.

Q: Will your leather conditioner darken leather?

A: No. Our formula is the only one on the market that we’re aware of that does not darken leather.

Q: What does leather conditioner do?

A: Leather is a natural material and needs to be continually conditioned. It dries out from exposure to the elements. By treating leather with conditioner you restore the natural oils which prevents scruffs and cracks from occurring. Our conditioner also provides a light weather barrier.

Q: Is it safe to use your leather conditioner on my couch/in my car/etc?

A: Griffin’s Leather Conditioner is great for any smooth leather.

Q: I applied Leather Conditioner to my leather item and now it has white streaks. What did I do wrong?

A: It sounds like you forgot to buff it out. Sometimes if you use too much product it can dry and cause streaking. It will come out, just buff it out with a cloth, or clean the item and reapply.

Q: Can I use Griffin Leather Conditioner on my [ostrich, rhino, snake,  shark, elephant, crocodile, etc] skin?

A: Yes, it is safe for all exotic skins. We do recommend testing a small area before covering the entire boot. Take special care to not get the conditioner on the heel, as it can cause bleeding.


Griffin Leather Cleaner

Q: When do I use leather cleaner?

A: When your item has visible dirt, sweat, or oil marks.

Q: Can I use leather cleaner on my suede/distressed/nubuck/exotic item?

A: Yes, but please contact us for specifics.


Griffin Suede Cleaner

Q: How do I use suede cleaner?

A: The most important thing to remember is cleaning suede is that everything must be done in an even coat. Spray the item evenly with the suede cleaner. Use a brush and brush the item down towards the sole. Never brush against the grain. If you see spots, repeat the process and try to apply the product more evenly.

Q: Can I use suede cleaner on microsuede, nubuck, or roughout?

A: Yes, just follow the directions on the bottle.


Griffin Water & Stain Repellent

Q: How should Water & Stain Repellent be applied?

A: Apply two to three light coats to any new or untreated item. Water & Stain Repellent needs to be reapplied periodically thereafter depending on the use and conditions the item is subjected. For items that are periodically worn, apply every few months. For items that are frequently used, apply it every two weeks.

Q: Does Water & Stain Repellent contain silicone?

 A:  No. Here at  Griffin, we believe that silicone impairs leathers’ natural ability to breathe and you can feel safe about using our products on your leather. Our formula is also environmentally friendly and has no harsh odor. Use it on your purse, diaper bag, or even car seats.

Q: What can I treat with Water & Stain Repellent?

A: Water & Stain Repellent can be used on any smooth leather, suede, nubuck, exotic skins, hats, backpacks, jackets, diaper bags, car seats, and most all fabrics.

Q: How often should Water & Stain Repellent be applied?

A: A lot depends on the use and conditions your item is subject to.  At a minimum, apply every 2-3 months.  For frequently used items, apply every two weeks.


Griffin Saddle Soap

Q: When should I use saddle soap?

A: Saddle soap can be used whenever a leather item is dirty. It’s best used for things like cleaning the stitching on saddles and boots. Simply rub it on with any brush and buff it out.


Did we forget something? Please reach out to us with any addition questions or comments at marketing@griffinshoecare.com or 779-220-4181