Getting Boots Ready for Winter

Every year I assess my leather boots and decide what needs to be taken care of so they look great and serve me well for an additional year. Before the start of every season and at the very end, it’s a good idea to wipe them down and condition them. Truthfully, I wear them a few times in October and then wait til November to do this task, but it is something that needs to be done at least once a season. If you aren’t taking the time to take care of your leather shoes then you may not get the full life out of them. The beauty of genuine leather is they can be taken care of and look great for years to come.

boot guard / kiwi saddle soap / kiwi cleaning clothes / kiwi express shine

Above are the products I used when taking care of my boots. I have not tried the kiwi express shine before but would recommend it more for touch ups and not what I’m explaining today, which encompasses a more heavy duty cleaning.

I love my leather riding boots! Both are the brand Bandolino that were purchased from Lord and Taylor 6+ years ago and can still be found at many retailers including DSW. Since I wear them a lot, you can see some minor signs of wear that need to be addressed. Cleaning and conditioning them really works well in this case to make them look great again. I’m hoping to get another 6+ years out of them. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Use a paper towel and warm water to get off any excess dirt/dust so you have a clean slate to work with. Let dry.
  2. Use the polishing cloths and get them slightly damp in one area, dip that area into the saddle soap and produce a lather.  Always test the saddle soap in a hidden area and let dry before doing your whole boot just to make sure it works well.
  3. Work the saddle soap into the leather in a circular motion to cover the whole boot.
  4. Let dry and wipe off any excess soap.

I do this every year and am always impressed with the results! The black boots are gorgeous, but I was worried that they were looking rough. This process cleaned and conditioned them and made me a believer all over again. I couldn’t be happier.

I ended with an optional step of using this Clark’s waterproofer on the lower part of my boots that hit closer to the ground. Again, this is something to test before spraying on. I found this waterproofer in a Clark’s store.

Here is a before and after shot of the boots. The photos are untouched, but it is still hard to tell how drastic of a difference it was. You can see there are less cracks in the leather and they have more of a rich depth in color on the right. I can’t imagine not doing this to my boots every year!


Next up I took a look at my Bean boots to see which ones needed some TLC. If you own Bean boots, it’s worth it to get this Bean boot guard to make them last and look great. I find it’s always good to condition the leather, but more importantly you’ll see some of the stitching on the boots start to stick out. This stuff works almost like a wax that you work into those stitches that keeps them nicely intact.

From the website: Protect your L.L.Bean Boots and other leather footwear products with our boot dressing, a mixture of beeswax, lanolin and oils that waterproof, preserve and restore leather.

This before picture mainly shows a lot of dirt on the rubber portion, but you can see the stitching ends that I referred to above. The pair of the left also has some common scratches inside the tongue of the boot under where the laces go. The boot guard does wonders for all of this.

  1. Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the bean boot, especially the leather portion. Let try.
  2. Use the kiwi cleaning cloth to dip into the boot guard and work into the leather in a circular motion. Again, always test the polish out on a hidden area and let dry before proceeding. Sometimes it may darken it more than you’d like, but I only found this to be the case with my Bison Bean boots which are already a dark brown. 
  3. I spend extra time going over the stitches with the boot guard to keep them nice and intact.
  4. Let dry.

Again, it may be hard to tell in this before and after but in real life the leather looks much better after using the boot guard and has prepared them for another season of brutal winters. I’m especially impressed with how it lessened the appearance of the scratches of the pair on the left.

Do you take the time to take care of your boots? I don’t think many people do, but it’s really important. This whole process (including taking pics during) took maybe half an hour even with dry time. Sometimes it seems tedious, but I often enjoy owning the same thing for many years and it continuing to look great with just a little extra care on my part.



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