If your leather boots are stained with salt lines from winter road salt, you can use a commercial desalting product (available at shoe repair shops). Alternatively you can:
- Make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. You can use a gentle, moisturizing soap instead of vinegar.
- Soak a rag in the cleanser.
- Dab the stained parts of the boots.
- Wipe the boots with a damp cloth.
- Wipe the boots dry with a towel.
- Allow the boots to dry slowly. Don't try speeding up the drying process by putting the boots near a heat source, as this can make them brittle and crack.
- Once they're dry, buff the boots with a soft cloth [Source: Forte].
Next time, prevent the formation of salt lines on your boots by treating them as soon as you get home, before they have a chance to dry. Dampen the leather with a wet sponge and then stuff the boots with paper, so they hold their shape until they dry.
If your leather boots are scuffed, don't scrub them roughly. Instead:
- Dip a soft cloth in clean water.
- Dip the wet cloth in baking soda.
- Rub the cloth gently over the scuff marks.
- Wipe the boots with a clean, damp cloth.
- Buff them dry with a soft cloth [Source: Forte].
Here's what to do if your boots are both dirty and wet:
- Let them dry them completely. Stuffing them with newspaper will help them dry more quickly and will help them retain their shape.
- Brush off the dirt.
- Apply a commercial leather cleaner.
- Polish the boots and apply saddle soap [source: Heloise].
Originally Published: May 17, 2011