How to Clean Leather Boots

The best way to keep your leather boots clean is to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place. Before you wear them, spray them with a protective water-repellent coating.

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:

  1. Make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. You can use a gentle, moisturizing soap instead of vinegar.
  2. Soak a rag in the cleanser.
  3. Dab the stained parts of the boots.
  4. Wipe the boots with a damp cloth.
  5. Wipe the boots dry with a towel.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. Dip a soft cloth in clean water.
  2. Dip the wet cloth in baking soda.
  3. Rub the cloth gently over the scuff marks.
  4. Wipe the boots with a clean, damp cloth.
  5. Buff them dry with a soft cloth [Source: Forte].

Here's what to do if your boots are both dirty and wet:

  1. Let them dry them completely. Stuffing them with newspaper will help them dry more quickly and will help them retain their shape.
  2. Brush off the dirt.
  3. Apply a commercial leather cleaner.
  4. Polish the boots and apply saddle soap [source: Heloise].

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