While there’s probably nothing more rugged and durable in your wardrobe than that trusty set of leather boots, even the toughest of them need a little love sometimes. And if you want those trudging buddies to last a lifetime and look their best, it pays to get proactive about your leather boot care.

With a dizzying array of conditioners, soaps and waxes on offer and a huge community of fellow boot lovers jockeying for a say in how to properly care for your boots, getting a simple process pinned down can seem a little intimidating. That’s why we’ve compiled all the information you need into this handy care guide. Feel free to come on back and reference this anytime you (or your well-worn boots) need a brush up.

Caring For Standard Leather Boots

Cleaning and caring for your leather boots will keep them looking their best for longer, ensuring a beautiful patina without unnecessary damage that shortens the life of your boots.

What You’ll Need

  • A medium/firm bristle brush (horsehair if you can!)
  • A few clean rags
  • Leather cleaner (like saddle soap)
  • Leather conditioner
  • Shoe wax (optional)

Step-By-Step

  1. Remove the laces from your boots and use your brush to dislodge any dust or dirt that may have hitched a ride home. Pay special attention to the welt (that stitched ridge where the sole meets the upper) and the edges of the tongue that sit under the eyelets.
  2. Lay down some newspaper or plastic so you don’t make a mess of the place.
  3. Apply your Saddle Soap (or any leather cleaner of your choice) with a clean, damp rag, lathering it on while working in tight circles. Make sure you get into every nook and cranny. Then wipe your boots down with a dry cloth until there’s no trace of soap remaining.
  4. Let your boots dry for 24 hours. I know you’ll be tempted to rush this, but don’t. Your boots will thank you for your patience and your sneakers will be happy to see a day in the sun. Once your boots are completely dry, move on to the next step.
  5. What you want out of the process will dictate which of the next steps you jump to. If you want to give your boots a lustrous finish and renew their color, then you want to condition your boots. If you’re looking to add some weatherproofing, then you want to wax your boots. Don’t overthink this. Conditioning will also help protect your boots from getting waterlogged by rain and puddles and waxing tends to also give your boots a bit of shine and luster, so go with whatever you’ve got on hand.
  6. To Condition: With a clean, dry rag apply a pea sized amount of leather conditioner to each boot. Again, work in tight circles and make sure you cover every nook and cranny.
  7. To Wax: Follow the same steps as conditioning, but with a product like Otter Wax. It can help to warm up the wax a bit, either by using a gloved hand to apply it or hitting it with a hairdryer before application.
  8. MORE PATIENCE. Your boots need another day for the conditioner or wax to settle into the leather’s natural pores. So pull out the sneakers for just one more day, it’s worth it.
  9. You’re good to go! Throw on some laces and get back out there.

Caring For Suede Boots

Contrary to popular belief, suede boots are quite hardy and rugged, and can actually look great with a few years of wear and tear on them. That being said, in order to keep them looking their best, you’ll want to make sure you’re regularly cleaning and caring for your suede boots. Here’s how to go about doing so.

What You’ll Need

  • A suede brush
  • Clean cloths/rags
  • A suede eraser

Step-By-Step

  1. First off, most suedes don’t like to get wet, so keep them away from water when cleaning.
  2. Remove the laces and give your suede boots a thorough wipe down with a clean, dry cloth.
  3. If you’ve got some stubborn stains or scuffs, grab your suede eraser and gently work the area until the mark is gone.
  4. Now, brush your clean suede boots with your suede brush. Be sure to work in the same direction throughout so the nep of the leather retains a uniform look.
  5. If you want to protect your suede boots from future spills and scuffs, you can apply a suede protector like Dubbins Wax with a clean, dry rag. Just keep in mind that this will drastically affect the look of your boots, making them darker and giving them that somewhat wet, waxy finish. They’ll still look great, but if you love the way your boots look already, it might be worth skipping this step.

There you have it. Whether you’re just starting out with leather boots or are looking to add another one to the collection, explore our lineup of handmade boots and gear up to get out there.

Shop Leather & Suede Boots


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