Regularly cleaning your leather boots will extend their life and keep them looking good. Be aware that boots made from suede or nubuck require special cleaning products made especially for that type of finish. Do not apply water-based, general cleaning or waterproofing products to suede or nubuck boots.
For the general care of your leather boots, let them dry out between wearings, and for 24 hours if possible. Even if they don’t feel wet, your boots absorb moisture from your feet and from the atmosphere each time they’re worn. Wearing boots that have not properly dried can cause the leather to stretch and warp. Use a pair of cedar shoe forms inside the boots when they’re not being worn. The cedar helps wick away moisture and maintains the shape of the foot box. Never place your boots near heat to dry them faster. If you must wear boots every day, invest in a second pair and alternate. In the long run, proper drying will extend the life of the boot and save you money.
Brush your boots with a soft, shoe polishing brush after each use and before regular cleaning. Even if you don’t see it, your boots pick up dirt and grime each time they’re worn. Taking a few moments to brush away loose dust and dirt will make cleaning easier and may eliminate some stains. Use a soft-bristled brush and swipe it back and forth over the entire boot. Pay special attention the creases between the upper part of the boots and the sole and around any buttons or decorative stitching/appliqué. Remove any laces and wipe them with a lightly damp cloth before relacing the boots.
Tend to stains on your leather boots as soon as they happen and during regular cleaning. To remove stains, use commercial leather cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions or make your own stain removers specifically for the stain type. For mold or mildew stains or hard leather boots, mix equal portions of rubbing alcohol and water. Dampen the corner of a cloth with the solution and wipe the stained area. Allow it to air dry and repeat if any remnants of the stain remain. Remove ink stains on hard leather by spraying them with hairspray and wiping with a clean, soft cloth. Ink is difficult to remove and you may have to repeat the process several times. If the stain isn’t coming off, consult a leather-cleaning professional. You can remove or reduce greasy stains by blotting them with cornstarch. If the stain is in an awkward place, fill a saucer with corn starch and lay the boot in it. Allow the corn starch to remain on the greasy stain for 4 to 24 hours and wipe away any powder that remains.
After removing stains use a general leather cleaner to clean the boots. Allow the boots to dry, then apply a leather conditioner, such as mink oil, by rubbing it into the leather with a clean, soft cloth. Wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth. Polish the boots by buffing them with a soft cloth or brush. Apply a waterproofing product that is recommended for your type of boot before you wear them the first time and after each regular cleaning.