How to clean, condition and polish leather boots
simple leather care
I started out knowing nothing. A kiwi polishing kit was as close as I had come to leather care.
I pride myself on research but even I couldn’t sort through the mess of miss information out there. This is where knowing leather types is important. Different leather types react differently to different oils. It can get complicated very fast.
Unfortunately, most recommended methods use high fat oils like coconut which can smother the leather and ruin the finish. The following is a gentle and simple method I can recommend for most leather types. If you have any doubts, double check with your local cobbler.
Warning, there are some dry times. Be prepared to be without the boots for a day or two.
Clean the leather with a soft brush and a damp cloth. If water isn’t enough you can use a diluted vinegar mixture (1 part vinegar to 2 parts water). Be careful as too much vinegar can ruin the leather and any stitching.
If the leather has oil stains I recommend talking to a cobbler. Otherwise go ahead and try cleaning the leather with saddle soap. I really don’t recommend doing this on your own.
Once the leather is clean be sure to let it dry. We don’t want to trap any water when we condition it. In the summer they only need about an hour or so.
To condition we want to apply a very light coat of Neatsfoot oil. I prefer Neatsfoot because its thin, doesn’t darken much and doesn’t leave any residue. Apply with a gentle rag or an old t-shirt. I’ll use my own fingers though if I’m in a pinch.
I can’t emphasize light coat enough. Just gently rub the oil over the leather. Small circles is fine. It should look a little wet. Not smothered.
Let the Neatsfoot soak in and dry. I usually leave this overnight.
If your leather is extra dry or you used saddle soap, you may need an extra coat of Neatsfoot and a few days to dry after.
With a different rag or t-shirt apply a light layer of cream polish in a matching color. I like Saphir. You can also use a different color if you want to add a different tone. I prefer lighter colors as a darker color may stain the leather.
Use a gentle brush and strike back and forth until you have a low gloss shine.
Your done. Or at least this is where I usually am.
If you want a high gloss shine or a little extra protection. Apply some wax polish.
Heat up some water and a rag. You want it warm to hot, definitely not boiling. You still have to hold it. Dip the rag and get the wax a little wet. Apply a decent coat on the boots and brush. If you still aren’t getting that shine, add more moisture. Remember that old spit shine reference? That’s why. It’s about moisture and not more wax. Please don’t spit on your leather.
Too long didn’t read
Go to a cobbler, your going to f up your boots.