How to Clean Leather Shoes and Boots

Everyone loves leather. It’s a durable material that looks great in any season and with any outfit. Over time leather boots or shoes will begin to look dirty with mud and salt stains. Taking some time to regularly clean your leather shoes will go a long way in helping your beloved footwear last a long time. Best of all, cleaning your shoes means you won’t have to buy a new pair right away which keeps money in your pocket.

The process for cleaning leather is pretty easy. If you do this on a regular basis it will become second nature and you should be able to complete the process fairly quickly once you get the hang of it. A little bit of work to keep your leather clean can go a long way in making them last and look great for a long time. You may be able to use household products like white vinegar and olive oil to clean, protect, and maintain the moisture in your shoes for years to come. Here’s our basic guide to cleaning leather footwear for you to check out before you start the process yourself.

1.Remove Your Laces

Laces tend to absorb dirt and mud. Dirty laces on clean leather boots can really ruin your look. Take out your laces to start the cleaning process. You have two options now. You can either replace the laces with new ones or wash the laces in your washing machine. In the interest of saving money, try washing your laces first. If they don’t get as clean as you would like then you may want to consider replacing. A fresh pair of laces is always a good feeling.

2.Give Your Leather Footwear a Wipe Down

Next, you want to get all of the big clumps of dirt and mud off your shoes. A soft cloth or brush is all you need for this step. Don’t worry about getting every last bit of mud off . This is a very basic wipe down to remove major bits of dirt and debris before the real cleaning process begins. You shouldn’t need to spend more than a couple minutes on this step.

3. Lather Up Your Boots or Shoes

There is a variety of leather cleaner products available out there. If you have the spare cash then top quality leather cleaner can definitely come in handy. However, if you’re looking for a good cleaning product on a budget then all you need is a mixture of dish soap and warm water (or saddle soap if you have a horse lover in the family for Cowboy Boots). Use a dry cloth to apply the soap mixture on your boots or shoes. You don’t want them to be dripping wet so be sure to wring out your cloth before applying the soap.

4. Clean off the Soap

For this step, you will want a separate, clean cloth handy from the one you used in the last step. Dampen your fresh cloth with clean water, wring it out, and then begin to wipe away the soap mixture you applied in the last step. For an especially dirty area or areas with scuff marks, you may want to reapply more soap and repeat the cleaning process. Your shoes should be totally clean for the next step, so take your time here to ensure you have cleaned up all dirt, mud, and debris.

5. Apply Leather Conditioner

If you have ever purchased leather boots or shoes then you have likely been offered leather conditioner at the time of purchase. If you have this on hand, then you are ready to go. Most leather conditioners have you apply the product, wait some time, and then buff with a soft cloth. If you don’t have leather conditioner, you can make your own at home. Simply mix one part vinegar with two parts linseed oil, then apply the mixture. Let it dry for 15 minutes and then buff with a soft cloth.

6. Dry Your Shoes

Finally, give your shoes some time to dry. You may not think so, but choosing where to dry them is very important. A dry area out of the sun or other direct heat sources is best. Don’t use a dryer or put them beside the furnace vent. Direct sunlight or heat during the drying process can cause your leather to fade and even crack. This would essentially undo all of the hard work you had done in cleaning to this point.

7. Stains and Scuffs

Some stains and scuffs may be a little too stubborn for the process above. If you have some grease or oil stains, then you may want to try applying cornstarch or baking soda to the area. After leaving the leather shoes or boots overnight, rub away the powder with a cloth. The baking soda or cornstarch should absorb the oil and grease.

Many scuffs can be resolved with a simple cleaning process like we outlined in the steps above. For a more serious scuff, you can use toothpaste. Apply the toothpaste and then buff away with a damp cloth. Be sure that you are not using gel toothpaste for this process. Basic, white toothpaste is best for this kind of cleaning.

8. Strut Your Stuff

Now your leather footwear is clean and looking like the day you bought them. Get out there and show them off! Do this process on a regular basis to keep your them looking great for a long time.