Leather boots are a staple for cooler weather and make any outfit look polished. If you buy a higher quality boot in a classic style, you save money over time because you don’t have to keep purchasing it. I have two pairs of leather boots, one black/brown and one cognac, by Bandolino. I’ve been very happy with the quality and they are in great shape for being worn so many times over the years.
Even if your boots are in excellent condition, it doesn’t hurt to give them a nice cleaning and polish once a year. Sometimes leather can dry out a bit, especially after being in storage, so cleaning and polishing is a great idea for keeping the quality up for years to come. Dean from Proper Kid Problems did a great blog post on refurbishing his moccasins, and it inspired me to polish my leather goods.
First things first, you can only polish real leather boots. You can usually tell by the look, feel, and smell of the leather, but if you’re not sure, try looking up the brand and see what it tells you. If it says “leather upper” that means the boot is leather except for the sole, which is a good thing since they won’t wear out quickly and can be worn in wet weather conditions.
Next you need the proper supplies:
• Cloth/Rag for initial cleaning
• Saddle Soap – can find at most grocery / convenience stores. I like the Kiwi brand.
• Cloth that has no texture – the Kiwi Shoe Shine Cloth is perfect for the job.
Step One: Clean the boot with a damp cloth getting off all dirt and debris. If your boots are really dirty, you may need to use a brush to finish the job.
Step Two: After the boots are fairly dry (I waited around 15 minutes), you’ll want to dampen the shoe shine cloth and create a lather with the saddle soap. You’ll want to rub it in evenly on all of the exposed leather parts. You don’t want to scrub very hard, just lightly go over the boot with the soap and cloth.
Step Three: Your boot should be darker from the saddle soap, but will go back to its original color after air drying. I left mine over night.
Waterproofing your boots. This is optional after cleaning and preserving your boots with saddle soap, but if you plan on wearing them in damp/rain/snowy weather, I highly recommend it. I wear my boots all Fall and Winter, which makes them susceptible to salt and water stains. Waterproofing will help guard your boots against the wear and tear that cold and wet weather brings and help them last longer.
• Cloth with no texture – Kiwi Shoe Shine cloth comes in a two-pack so I used the extra one for this step.
* The Clark’s Spray I found in-store
Step One: You’ll want to test whichever method you are using (wax or spray) on the boot in a small area before covering more of the leather to see how it reacts. I put a small amount on the inside to see if it altered the color of my boot. After seeing that it did not after it had dried, I proceeded to waterproof my boots.
Step Two: I took the cloth and got some wax on it and started rubbing it onto the leather. It does leave it looking slightly waxy at first, so I decided to only do the bottom portion of my boot where it is most vulnerable to salt stains.
Step Three: After I let it dry, I used the waterproofing spray to finish the job. You can use either just the wax or just the spray, but you’ll need two coats as recommended. I decided to use one of each for no particular reason except I had both and wanted to try it.
I should have taken before and after pictures, but I did it mainly at night and didn’t have the best lighting. The difference may be subtle since my boots were both in fairly good condition, but I can see a big improvement as the process helped hydrate my boots making them look brand-new again. I also feel better wearing them this winter knowing they are better protected against the elements than they were previously. Remember – taking good care of what you already own will help it last for years to come.