How To Clean Waterproof Leather Boots [In 3 Easy Steps!]

Leather boots have long been synonymous with hard work. Hard work isn't always clean, though - and nights on the town aren't, either. If you scuff your boots during a long day or while out with your friends, how can you clean your waterproof leather boots?

You can clean waterproof leather boots by:

  1. Removing the shoelaces.
  2. Brushing away the first with a soft brush.
  3. Cleaning the remaining dirt with warm water and a rag.

That said, some leather boots require more TLC than others. If you want to preserve the softness of your shoes, you can invest in regular leather conditioning. There are even ways to strengthen or replace your boots' waterproofing seal.

The more of these habits you choose to invest in, the longer your favorite pair of leather boots will last.

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Clean brown leather boots with shoes wax and polished using waterproofing cream, How To Clean Waterproof Leather Boots [In 3 Easy Steps!]

How To Clean Waterproof Leather Boots

Whether your find yourself faced with mud, stains, or age, you need to know how to buff your boots if you want them to hold up over time. Leather is a sensitive material. It requires gentle care if it's going to last.

Waterproof leather boots over puddle with reflection

Before you invest in specialized cleaning services or let mud cake up on your shoes, make sure you're using the best possible techniques to clear the grime off your leather.

To clean your waterproof leather boots, you should:

1. Remove The Laces

Your shoelaces may benefit from a cleaning as much as the rest of your shoe, but that doesn't mean you should lean both at once. It's in your best interest to remove your shoelaces and clean them separately from the rest of your boot.

This makes it easier to clear away grime and allows you to replace a damaged shoelace if the need arises.

2. Clean With A Soft Brush

Before reaching for the hot water, make sure you scrub away what dirt and grime you can with a soft brush. If your shoes have gone through the debris ringer, you should be able to clear away dried dirt and debris with little pressure.

That said, leather shoes can stand up to considerable contortion. If you need to apply a firmer hand to your initial brush-down, you can.

3. Apply Water And A Boot Cleaner

After you've cleared away as much dirt as possible, you should wet your boots. However, do not let water get inside of your shoe. Instead, run warm water over the outside of the boot and use a clean, soft brush to continue clearing away any additional grime.

If you're still struggling to clean off your boots, you can invest in a gentle boot cleaner. Boot cleaners work as soap does, but you can purchase brands that protect leather and waterproofing seals from undue harm. Follow the instructions on your boot cleaner bottle of choice, and your leather boots will look as good as new in no time at all.

How Do You Dry Leather Boots?

Hanged with clothespins leather boot drying on a clothesline on sunny day.

It's never a good idea to throw your waterproof leather boots in the dryer. The concentrated heat of a residential dryer damages waterproof leather boots on two fronts. The heat can damage your boots' waterproofing, making them less comfortable to wear when you need to go out in the rain.

That same heat can also shrink your leather boots. Too much heat can leave the leather unmalleable and tight around your ankles. If you're not careful, you could come away from your next adventure with unexpected blisters.

When it comes time to dry your leather boots, it's best to let them air dry. You can sop away any extra water with the help of a rag or towel first. After that, leave your leather boots in a spot that receives a lot of light but doesn't suffer from much humidity.

In most cases, you can expect your boots to be completely dry within 48 hours.

What Cleaners Work Best On Leather Boots?

Caring for leather boots

There are several kinds of leather cleaners on the market today. So long as these cleansers have a pH that suits your leather boots, you should be able to use them on the pair you've rinsed with water. Are there certain cleaners that are better suited to a pair of boots?

Not particularly. The cleanser you choose to bring home should suit your preferred method of boot cleaning. This means investing in sprays, kits, or even wipes. There are even some leather seat cleansers that you can use on your boots, though make sure you check the pH of these cleansers before you commit to their use.

Should You Condition Leather Boots?

Even if you've invested in waterproof leather boots, you'll still want to condition your pair every three to six months. The more often you wear your leather boots, the more frequently you'll want to condition them.

You can condition your leather boots whenever your pair begins to look faded or dry. To cultivate a specific leather look, you can let your shoes fade to a certain degree. Once your boots have reached your preferred degree of age, you can take the conditioning product and put it to work.

How To Condition Leather Boots

Brush for cleaning shoes in hand and black shoes

Before your condition your boots, make sure that you've cleaned away all the dirt and grime from the surface of your leather. Your shoes should also be dry when you go to condition them. Remove the laces, if necessary, and prepare to store your boots in a dry, low-humidity location.

Once you've removed all of the dirt from your boots, you can use any manner of boot conditioner to soften the leather. If you don't have conditioners on hand, you can alternatively use materials like:

  • Vaseline
  • Beeswax
  • Hair conditioner
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil

Note that several cooking oils can change the color of your leather if you don't quickly wipe it off the surface of your boots. If you're looking for a simple way to dye your leathers, olive and coconut oil will help you get the job done.

How To Reseal Waterproof Leather Boots

While conditioners and cleaners can keep your boots clean, waxes can restore your boots' waterproof seal. Some waxes serve both as conditioners and waterproofing seals. These waxes can come in flat pallets or as emergency stick balms depending on your needs.

Don't assume that you can use any old wax on your waterproof leather boots. For example, boots made out of leather and other fabrics may benefit from waterproofing sprays. Using wax on these boots may only result in their faster decay.

If you're unsure what kind of wax or seal might best suit your boots, research the recommended care practices offered through the boots' manufacturer's website. Even small businesses selling leather boots can provide you with treatment recommendations when it comes time to replace your waterproof seal.

How To Waterproof Leather Boots

The process of waterproofing leather boots is similar to that of conditioning or even cleaning an older pair. Make sure that your shoes are free from dirt and grime. Remove the boots' shoelaces. Then, when the shoes are dry, massage wax or a sealant of your choice into your leather.

Make sure you follow the seal's instructions for the longest-lasting application. Once you've applied your material of choice, let your boots dry in a warm but dry location for up to 48 hours.

When To Repair Or Replace Waterlogged Leather Boots

There can come the point when your leather boots are too far gone for traditional repairs. It's not easy to tell when you can still restore your old boots and when you need to purchase a new set.

You'll know that your leather boots are on their last leg when your heels and toes take on excess wear. If your heel is wearing off or your toe has developed a hole, repairs aren't going to keep water and other forms of moisture from soaking your socks.

Similarly, leather that's gone unconditioned for a considerable amount of time is often too far gone to repair. While you can still wear boots with cracked leather, they won't be as stable as a newer alternative.

You can still try and repair a boot that's suffered from scuffs, minor cracks, and even small tears. If you don't feel confident addressing your boots' condition on your own, you can instead turn to a cobbler in your area.

Local professionals can charge you a small fee to restore your old leather while also providing you with a care plan to help you preserve your boots for as long as possible.

To Wrap It Up

It doesn't matter whether you wear your leather shoes to work or fun. The better you take care of the pair you own, the longer they will last. That's why it's best to use warm water, gentle brushes, and equally-gentle cleansers when it comes time to clean the mud off of your boots.

If you can condition and waterproof the pair you have, you'll find that the quality leather becomes comfortable while remaining durable.

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