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How to clean, condition and waterproof leather boots

how to clean, condition and waterproof leather boots

How do you waterproof leather boots? What’s the best way to clean leather boots? How should you condition leather boots? Well let me tell you! As I’ve said often in this site, leather is leather is leather. What I mean is that basically once you know how to clean, condition and seal, or what some call waterproof leather, it’s the same with all types of leather and all kinds of leather products.

I already have an article on how to do all that with your leather jacket. For the most part it’s the same with leather boots. Now, the leather in boots is normally treated a little different during the tanning process, but not much. It’s normally thicker, not as soft and often not as smooth, at least on the inside. Leather boots are normally made from cowhide, buffalo hide and pigskin.

No matter what type of leather hide it’s made of how you clean it, condition it and waterproof or seal your leather boots is the same. It always comes down to the three basic steps; cleaning the leather, conditioning the leather, and finally sealing, or waterproofing the leather. So lets start with cleaning the leather. You need to get leather cleaner, leather conditioner and leather sealer, or what some call waterproofing.

No, I’m not going to say what brand is the best. I’m not going to have everyone tell me this brand is better and so on! Just try to get a good brand name and stuff that is not too thick and heavy. There are some good brands you can find in the sidebars here on this site.

Cleaning leather boots
If your leather boots are brand new and a quality brand, they should have already been conditioned and sealed. So you should not need to do anything to them for a while. However if you think they have not been conditioned and sealed well then do these steps. Take the laces off and get a toothbrush. Brush off any loose dirt with a brush, not the toothbrush.

Use a washcloth, shop towels or anything that will not tear apart easy and work the leather cleaner into the leather all over. Use a circular motion, nice and easy. Use the toothbrush to get into the small areas, around the hardware and all that good stuff. Then use a clean damp cloth to wipe it all back off along with the dirt.

Conditioning leather boots
When you clean leather, you strip some of the natural oils from the leather. So what your doing when you condition leather is your simply applying oil that the leather needs so it will not dry out or crack. It also makes it softer and can take more abuse. Now, leather conditioner can discolor leather, usually making it darker if the leather is a light color.

Apply the leather conditioner all over the leather boots with your toothbrush and a clean cloth. It’s always better to put too LITTLE on than too MUCH! Never put a lot on, just use a little and work it in slowly. Too much leather conditioner can actually ruin the leather and breed mildew. Work it into all the cracks, threads and corners of the leather boots.

Once it’s all in there take a dry clean cloth and wipe off ALL the wet spots. Make sure you wipe around all the hardware and corners so you don’t leave a build up of leather conditioner in there. Now you only have one more step, and many confuse what this is, or does.

Sealing, or waterproofing leather boots
What many call waterproofing leather is actually sealing the leather. You can’t really waterproof leather, only make it water resistant. If you stand in a puddle of water with leather boots, in time it’s going to leak, no matter what you put on it. (unless you spray it with rubber, in which case just get rubber boots!) Leather needs to breath, and it can’t be fully waterproof to do that.

So what your doing is putting a thin layer of sealant on the surface of the leather. It makes the leather water resistant, helps hold in the leather oils, and makes the leather resistant to discoloration due to water and chemicals. Most are made from a silicone or special oil blend. Avoid ones that are petroleum based.

Put a very THIN layer all over the leather just the way you did in step number 2. Then wipe any excess off, just like you did in the second step. There, now your leather boots are clean, conditioned and sealed!

So just how often should you do all this? Well, it depends on how much you use your leather boots and how wet or dirty you get them. Normally you should only need to reapply leather sealer, or leather waterproofing every few months if you ride a lot. If you use your leather boots in really wet places like marshes and hunting, then you might want to do all three steps several times a year.

I would always do the whole process once a year, and that normally is all you need. Like all things leather, make sure you dry your leather boots thoroughly when they get wet, and don’t put them in hot places or they will dry out. Don’t store them in wet or humid places either. So that’s how you clean, condition and seal or waterproof leather boots, made from any type of leather. Hope this helps!