How To Clean Leather Boots

How To Clean Leather Boots (INFOGRAPHIC Below)

In this article we will show you how to clean leather boots, including maintenance and care in order to make them last longer.
How To Clean Leather Boots
Owning a pair of leather boots can be an expensive investment, but paying someone to clean your boots can prove to be expensive as well.
So if you want to save some money while keeping your boots clean, here are some tips on how to clean your prized boot at home.

Precautions for cleaning leather boots

  • Cleaning and conditioning your boots are both equally important. It is surprising how many times boot owners will skimp out on cleaning their boots in order to condition them first. Applying conditioner without the cleanup, dirt and oil stains will seep deeper into the pores, clogging them, leading to the leather getting dehydrated. So make sure to start cleaning first!
  • Some of the items suggested here could stain the floor so it will be a good idea to spread newspaper before you begin the cleaning process. Alternatively, you could opt to clean your boots outdoors.
  • Don’t forget to remove laces , buckles or any decorative stuff the boots  as these could get in the way of doing a thorough job. The cleaning material could also stain them.
  • Use light short strokes to clean the boots so that the grime does not cause scratch marks on the surface of the boots. Using a soft bristled brush to remove dust, grime and light stains will ensure that your boots remain scratch free.
  • Make sure that you clean every part of the boot, lifting up flaps and also making sure to clean the tongue.
  • Do not rub the cleaner on to the boots too much, as this could cause the leather to dry.

Regular Maintenance And Cleaning Of Leather Boots

The easiest way to clean and maintain your leather boots is to buy a quality leather cleaner. Leather cleaners are available in soap forms like saddle soap, as well as in liquid form.

If you opt to clean your boots with saddle soap, you will need to rub a damp cloth over the soap and then apply evenly over the boots.

After the cleaning is over, take a dry piece of cloth and rub off any extra soap that could be found sticking on your boots. Repeat the process on places where you see stubborn stains.

When using a leather boot cleaner in liquid form, pour very little of your liquid cleaner on a soft damp cloth. Rub the cloth together so as to create a soapy foam, using the foamy cloth to clean your boots.

Make sure to rub the foam onto every nook and corner of your boot using circular movements.

Leather cleaners get absorbed into the leather, so there is no need to rinse your boots. Just rub off the excess cleaner with a fresh cloth and your boots should be as good as new!

How To Clean Leather Boots In 5 Easy Steps

How To Clean Leather Boots At Home - Infographic


How To Remove Scratches Or Scuffs From Leather Boots

To remove scratches from leather boots, first clean the scratch with a leather cleaner as mentioned above.

Petroleum jelly is extremely effective at removing scuff marks from leather.

Scooping a bit of petroleum jelly on a piece of cloth rub the same into the leather. Rub in a circular motion, making sure the jelly gets absorbed into the scratch.

Then, using a paper towel, buff the remaining petroleum jelly into the scuff. This should remove the scratch from your leather boot.

Depending on the type of leather you can also apply some white vinegar on the scratch with some cloth.

When the vinegar dries, apply olive oil with a cloth and rub it in gently. As a final touch rub colorless leather polish in circular motion over the scratches.

Deeper scratches might require recoloring. Recoloring products are very effective at covering up bigger scratches.
Find a color that matches your boot. Test the color on an unseen part of the boot. If the color matches, you can use the recoloring gent to cover up the scratch on the boot.

How To Clean Stains From Leather Boots

How To Remove Light Food Stains Your Leather Boot

You can use diluted dish washing liquid to clean a stubborn stain.

But first you might need to perform a spot test on an invisible part of the boot. This is because certain types of leather could fade with the use of dish washing liquid soap.

How To Remove Oil Stains From Your Leather Boot

To remove oil stains from your boots, make sure that they are absolutely dry.

Dust some corn starch onto the oil stain. Leave the boots with the corn starch on it over night.

The next day use a slightly damp cloth to wipe away the corn starch. Repeat the process if you find that the oil stain has not disappeared.

Never rinse or immerse your leather boots in water when using this method.

After getting rid of the corn starch with the damp cloth you can use your leather cleaner and clean up the whole boot.

How to remove ink stains from leather boots?

Rubbing alcohol on the stain is very effective way to remove ink from leather boots. Put a drop of alcohol onto a ball of cotton and use this to erase the stain.

But before you do so make sure that you perform a spot test under the flap of the boots, to make sure the boot won’t stain.

How to condition leather boots for different types of weather

Leather conditioners are mainly moisture based, they created such that they sink into the leather making it supple.

Dry and dehydrated leather can cause a lot of discomfort and cleaning your boots can lead to dehydration of the leather.

The act of replacing the lubricants in the leather is called conditioning. This makes the leather supple and soft, adding to a comfortable ride.

Boot conditioners tend to make the leather a shade darker for several hours after application. So if you plan to condition a light pair of boots it would be a good idea to spot test it under the flaps.

Let it sit for a few hours to check if the color matches the shade of your boots before conditioning the entire boot.

Conditioning Boots For The Summer

If you live in hot, dry areas or use your boots roughly then you may need to condition them three to four times a year.

Watch out for tantrums your leather displays. If it cracks or turns stiff it is displaying the usual leather distress signals and it is time for some maintenance measures.

If delayed these dry leather symptoms could make your boots brittle and destroy them.

Pour the conditioner onto a terry cloth and gently rub it onto the boots in a circular motion.

The amount of conditioner depends upon the condition of the leather. A well maintained pair will need only one application but neglected pair will need a few.

You can stop conditioning when the leather stops absorbing the conditioner and appears wet. Ideally the conditioner should be left to dry for a day before you give it a final rub with a cloth in order to remove any excess.

It is a good idea to give your boot extra protection by applying a final coat of polish.

The wax in the polish will lock out the moisture in the atmosphere thereby protecting your boots further from moisture.

Leather boots can also be conditioned with plain olive or coconut oil.

The coconut oil may leave some residue on the boot. So olive oil is a better choice.

Dip a piece of cloth in the olive oil and spread the oil onto the boots. Then take another piece of dry cloth and and rub the boots into a shine.

Leather boot protection in the winter

There is no doubt that leather is a very durable natural material. But it is porous, so it absorbs water easily and dries out every time the water drains or evaporates. This leads to the leather becoming stiff and dry.

This could dry and crack the leather. Though your costly pair of leather Boots has been waterproofed before purchase. But this waterproof cannot last forever.

Adopt these steps to protect them from rain and snow.

If your boots get wet, insert some old newspaper or shoe tree inside the boots to protect its shape.

Lay the boots on some dry news paper on their sides, allowing them to dry out naturally. Never keep the boots near intense heat like a fireplace as this will dry out shoes too quickly causing it them to crack.

Next clean your boots with saddle soap and a slightly damp cloth to rid it of dust and grime. As the name suggests, saddle soap has been used for ages to treat horse saddles.

After that, use your fingers to smear a thin coat of the leather conditioner on the uppers, applying it over the stitches as well.

Make sure to take special care to apply the dressing on the seams above the soles. But do not use it on the soles of the shoes.

You can use a small brush for this, as this part is exposed to more wear and tear.

Allow the conditioner to dry for at least a day after removing the the extra dressing as mentioned above.

Leather boot protection from mold and mildew

Leather needs regular cleaning during humid and wet weather conditions. If left unattended mold or mildew could form on its surface.
If the mold is not promptly removed it could ruin your boots by making it hard and discolored.
To remove the mold, first brush it off the boot. Next mix equal parts of warm water and vinegar, dip a cloth into it and clean the mold patches with it.
Now prepare put one table spoon of saddle soap powder into a bowl of warm water and wash the boots with the solution and then rinse it again using clean water. Next coat the boots with salt and let it dry.
When the salt dries make sure you dust of all the salt particles from the boots. Then spray inside of the boots with odor eliminator spray to remove the odor and discourage further growth of mildew.
Stubborn mold stains can be removed with a mold eraser. The residue if any should be rinsed using saddle soap and water.
Once cleaned, leave the boots to dry in the sun for sometime to prevent further mold.

Fungal Infection Due To Unclean Leather Boots

You could develop fungal infections from sharing  your footwear. Reduced air circulation in boots make them prime targets for fungal infections.

After removing your boots keep them lying on the side instead of keeping them upright. This helps in letting old air escape and letting in new air.

Make sure to air your boots often in order to protect your feet and toe nails from fungal infections. You can use boot dryers to eliminate odor caused by sweaty feet and bacteria.

Changing your socks everyday helps tremendously too.

How To Make A Homemade Leather Boot Cleaner

Making a leather cleaner at home is as simple as making a soft paste with equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar.

Apply this paste with microfiber cloth and give your boots a brisk clean up with the same cloth.

This is a simple quick fix to get your boots looking clean and fresh before heading out.

Types of leather boots

Leather boots come in different varieties, ranging from natural leather to synthetic or faux leather.
Raw hide is obtained from farm animals like cows, pigs, deer, goat or sheep. The hides can also be obtained from exotic animals such as alligators, ostrich and snake.

So what is the difference between synthetic, Nubuck and Suede leather boots?

The difference lies in how the leather is processed. The raw hide is chemically treated to change it into leather which is supple and durable. The leather is then sanded down, which gives it different textures.
Nubuck leather is made when the outer surface of the hide is sanded and used. The outer surface is tougher and therefore more durable, that is why nubuck leather is used on most work boots and shoes.
Suede on the other hand, is sanded on the inner surface of the leather hide giving it a softer texture.
While synthetic leather is basically any material that is used as a substitute for original leather.

What kinds of hides are used to make nubuck and suede leather?

As discussed earlier, most leather comes from farm animals. With more than 60 percent of the hide processed coming from buffaloes and cows.
Buffalo hide is thicker and hence more durable. Like cow leather it is used to make many leather based products.
Also, sheepskin is used to make softer items, while pigskin can be processed to make suede articles

Why do people prefer leather boots over synthetic boots?

Leather boots take a place of pride among any footwear collection and here’s all the reasons why;
  • Leather is a very stylish material. Everybody would love to own a pair of genuine leather boots. Genuine leather boots reward you if you take care of them. It is not unheard of to keep leather boots in good condition for more than 3 years.
  • Being a naturally tough material, leather is resistant to fire, dry abrasion and can even even be made waterproof. It is also dust and lint proof. All you need to do is wipe off the dust with a dry cloth and your boots are almost as good as new!
  • Leather won’t give you skin rashes and allergies as synthetic materials sometimes do.
  • It also becomes more flexible with time but does not alter the original shape of the boots. Thus it provides plenty of comfort for the wearer by molding uniquely to your foot.
  • Besides being comfortable and durable, leather also protects the human body.
  • And while leather boots last long, a coat of polish can make new boots last even longer and make old leather boots look as good as new.
  • A well maintained pair of boots will not peel or crack.
  • Boots made of natural fabric leather are also bio-degradable, even though they are chemically treated.

That being said, below is the complete guide on leather boot care – from cleaning to polishing and conditioning for all weather conditions.

How can I stop my leather boots from squeaking?

One trick that usually works is to sprinkle some talc power into the boots to prevent the squeak. The talc will reduce abrasion between the rubbing parts of the boots and your foot and should reduce the squeaking.


Even though this article lists several different methods on how to clean leather boots, remembering the 3 basic steps:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Conditioning and
  3. Polishing

Will ensure that your leather boots remain fresh all year long.

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