How to clean leather boots
How to clean leather boots

Table of Contents

Leather boots are undoubtedly a staple fashion statement. They are comfortable, they look good, and the best part is they last for years. While your boots so much to enhance your style and comfort, they just need proper cleaning and care in return. However, many people don’t really know to clean or care for them. In case you are also clueless about how to clean leather boots, this article will help. We have explained the cleaning process as well as how to give them the right care they need. You can read this article to keep your leather boots in their best possible condition.

Here’s what exactly you can expect from this article:

Things You’ll Need To Clean Leather Boots

  • Hot water
  • Leather cleaner (Liquid or Soap)
  • Clean, white, lint-free rags or cloths
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Medium-bristled brush
  • Lemon Juice (Optional)
  • Cream of tartar (Optional)
  • Nail paint remover (Optional)
  • Rubbing alcohol (Optional)
  • Baking soda (Optional)
  • Cornstarch (Optional)
  • Toothpaste (Optional)
  • Leather conditioner

Note: Do not use a tough or hard-bristled brush to clean leather boots as it may leave a scratch on them.

6 Steps To Clean Leather Boots At Home

6 Steps to clean leather boots
6 Steps to clean leather boots

Step 1: Remove and clean the laces and soles

Remove the laces and soles before you clean leather boots. Clean them separately using normal detergent or dish soap. Here is what you can do: 

Take a bowl of water and add ½ teaspoon of your regular detergent or a drop of dish wash liquid. Dip a brush in this mixture and rub the soles while asserting pressure for 1-2 minutes. Take a clean damp cloth and wipe away the residue from the soles. Leave them for 1-2 to dry. 

To clean the laces, you can dip the laces into the bowl containing water & detergent/ dish wash liquid. Leave in the bowl for 4-5 minutes. Take the laces out and rub them using a brush for 1-2 minutes. Rinse them under tap water and leave them to dry. Don’t forget to tie both laces together so that one of them doesn’t get lost. It will also prevent tangling. 

Step 2: Remove loose dirt and debris

Take a soft-bristled brush to get rid of dirt, dust and debris from the shoes. Gently brush the entire boots. In case there is dried-up mud on the boots, you can use a medium-bristled brush to take it off the boots. 

Step 3: Apply the leather cleaner on the boots

The texture of suede leather is different from other types of leather. Hence, you should not use a regular leather cleaner if you have suede shoes. If you have suede boots, you can refer to our article – How to clean suede shoes

You will find leather cleaners in two forms generally – Leather soaps and liquid leather cleaners. Leather soaps are generally known as saddle soap. Liquid leather cleaners may leave a bit of residue on boots. Thus, people prefer soap cleaners. 

Here is how you can use both of these: 

How to use soaps to clean leather boots

  • Take a clean, damp cloth and rub it over the soap. Rub until you see a light lather by rubbing the sides of the cloth together. 
  • Take another clean, white cloth or a soft-bristled brush and dampen it.

How to use liquid cleaners to clean leather boots

  • Take a damp cloth, and pour leather cleaners on it. It will just take 2-3 drops of the cleaner. 
  • Rub the sides of the clothes together to generate a light lather.

Once you have generated a lather of leather cleaner rub it all over the boots. Rub it gently in small circular motions for 3-5 minutes. This will remove dirt and grime from your boots.

Pro-tip: Some leather cleaners have a pungent smell. So, if you are cleaning leather boots inside your house it is better to turn the fan on or open a window. 

Step 4: Wipe away the residue and leave it to dry

Take a clean, white cloth and remove the residue from clean leather boots. Leather cleaners are formulated in a way that it gets soaked into the leather fibres. The excess cleaner will stay on the leather skin, you can simply wipe it away with a clean, white cloth. There is no need to rinse the shoe. You must be aware of the fact that leather should not be washed. 

Step 5: Remove stains from leather boots

Remove stains to clean leather boots
Remove stains to clean leather boots

Before you actually clean leather boots, you should remove the stains (if any). Here are some tips to remove some common stains quickly: 

• Grease or Oil stains = Baking soda+ Cornstarch

Take 1 teaspoon of baking soda and cornstarch each. You can increase the quantity if the stain is spread onto a large area. Mix them well together. Sprinkle this powder on the stain. Take a clean, white, cloth and dampen it with water. Now rub the baking soda and cornstarch mixture using this damp cloth in a circular motion with slight pressure for 3-4 minutes. Leave the boots as it is overnight so that the soda and starch can absorb the stain-causing oil. Wipe off the residue with another clean and soft cloth the next day. 

• Ink stain = Nail paint remover or Rubbing alcohol

Take a regular nail paint remover or rubbing alcohol. Dip a cotton swab in any of these. Blot the ink stain with that cotton swab. Keep blotting gently until you don’t see ink lifting up on the cotton swab. If the stain has lightened you can repeat the process using a new cotton swab. Once the stain vanishes, wipe the area with a clean and dry cloth/towel.

• Scuff marks = Toothpaste

Take a toothpaste with non-gel formula. Squirt a dab of this toothpaste on the scuff marks. Now, take a clean, white cloth and start rubbing the scuffed area gently for 1-2 minutes.

• Other stains = Lemon juice + Cream of tartar

Take 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and mix equal parts of lemon juice to create a thick paste. Apply this paste to the stain with your hands or a soft-bristled brush. Let it sit on the stain for 30 minutes. Take a clean, white, damp cloth to wipe away the paste.

Caution: Do not use this on light-coloured leather boots as cream of tartar and lemon juice have a bleaching effect. 

Just in case the stains are too tough, we recommend you take the boots to a good dry cleaning shop. Experts have special chemicals to treat stains on leather while preserving its fibres. So, you can rely on them.

Step 6: Apply a leather conditioner on boots

Always apply leather conditioner once you clean boots
Conditioner plays a big role in keeping leather in a good condition.

You can’t leave your shoes without applying a conditioner after cleaning. Do remember leather is a natural material, it is made up of animal skin. It requires proper nourishment otherwise it may be ruined with time. Leather can get brittle and stiff due to dryness. When you apply leather conditioner your boots will get the moisture they need to stay in a good condition. 

  • Take a clean, white, lint-free cloth and leather conditioner.
  • Apply a drop (oil/cream-based conditioner) or a pinch(wax conditioner)of leather conditioner on the cloth. 
  • Do a patch test by applying the conditioner on a hidden area of your boots. If there are no unusual adverse results go ahead. 
  • Start rubbing it in a circular motion with slight pressure on the shoe of approximately 10 inches. 
  • Repeat the above-listed two steps until you cover the whole boots.

Pro-tip: You just have to spread a thin layer of conditioner on your shoe. Do not use an excessive quantity of the product as it can make your leather extra soft and it may lose its shape in a long run. 

  • Leave the boots for 15-20 minutes to let them absorb the conditioner. 
  • Then, take a medium-bristled brush to buff the shoe gently.
  • Now, you can leave the boots overnight and then store them properly.

Just like you can’t clean suede boots like boots made up of other types of leather, you cannot use conditioner on suede as well.

Key takeaway on how to clean leather boots

Clean leather boots
Clean leather boots

You must clean leather boots at regular intervals. If you wear the same boots every day it is better to clean them once in two weeks. In case you don’t wear them often you should clean them once a month. 

To clean leather boots you should get rid of dust first. In case your boots have certain stains, treat them before cleaning the whole shoe. You can refer to the stain removal section of this blog to see how to remove different types of stains. Afterwards, you should apply a proper leather cleaner at home. We recommend you use commercial leather cleaners instead of homemade cleaners. Because the latter ones are formulated in a specific way to clean leather deeply without damaging its fibres.

Leather cleaners are available in two forms generally: soap and liquid. You can purchase any of them at your convenience. Their usage differs slightly, so, we have explained each process separately above in the blog, you can refer to them. The next step is leather conditioning which is also explained in the article. 

In all, there are just three steps: stain removal, cleaning, and conditioning. By doing these jobs properly you can keep your leather boots in their best possible condition for a very long time. 

If you like this information, keep visiting Tumbledry. Because, we post a lot on stain removal, cleaning, care tips, dry cleaning, laundry, etc.

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