Cleaning & Caring for Leather Boots: Expert Advice for Maintaining Your Footwear

Caring for Leather Boots

Ever wondered why leather boot care is so vital? Because with the right techniques and supplies, your favorite pair of leather boots are actually relatively easy to restore to their former glory, even after they’ve been around the block a few times.

Scuff marks, stains, and dirt are no match for an effective cleaning routine.

This guide includes all the tips you need about how to clean leather boots, from tackling stubborn stains to giving them a nice buff. After all, those boots aren’t just made for walking—they’re made for shining, too.

Why Proper Cleaning and Care is Important for Leather Boots

Leather, prized for its strength and flexibility, has microscopic fibers that form an intricate, three-dimensional network.1 This complex structure grants leather its unique ability to resist wear and tear while molding to your foot’s shape over time, making it an outstanding material for boots.

For this same reason though, leather boots need regular care to maintain their prime condition. Proper cleaning doesn’t just restore their aesthetic appeal; it also extends their lifespan. It keeps the leather supple, preventing cracks and wear, and helps maintain that snug fit you love.

Essential Tools and Supplies for Cleaning Leather Boots

Learning how to take care of leather boots isn’t magic; it just requires the right tools and a touch of meticulousness. Here are some key players in the world of leather care:

  • High-quality leather cleaner – Opt for one that cleanses without stripping your boots of essential oils.
  • Soft-bristled brush – This will be gentle on your boots, but tough on dirt and dust.
  • Leather conditioner – This will keep your boots soft and supple.
  • Microfiber cloth – They’re perfect for applying conditioner and other products.
  • Saddle soap – Quick tip: that’ll be your secret weapon against stubborn stains.
  • Leather protector – Guard your boots against water and other potential threats.
  • Polish – Turn to a tub of polish for that final, fresh-out-the-box gleam.

Just like you would follow the necessary steps for optimal suede boot care, it’s worth investing in the essential supplies for your leather boot care kit. They’ll work together to keep your boots looking their best for as long as possible, which means you can step out in style every time.


Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Leather Boots

Time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You look down at your leather shoes, and it’s unmistakable. They need to be cleaned.

No need to trot down the cobblers. We know how to clean leather boots at home.

Follow this quick step-by-step process and have your leather boots shining in no time:

  • Preparation – First, remove any laces before cleaning.
  • Dusting off – Use your soft-bristled brush to sweep away loose dirt and dust.
  • Cleaning – Apply a small amount of leather cleaner to your microfiber cloth and gently rub onto your boots. Always follow the instructions on your cleaner. Generally, you want to move slowly and methodically from the front of the shoe to the back so you don’t miss a single spot.
  • Wiping off – After cleaning, take a clean, damp cloth and wipe off any excess cleaner.
  • Drying – Let your boots dry naturally. Avoid heat sources like blow dryers or even setting them in the sun, which can cause cracking. The only tool on your side here is time, but the wait is worth it to protect your boots.

Easy, right? What’s even better is that by following these steps every few months, you’ll not only be cleaning your boots, you’ll be maintaining the richness and strength of the leather itself. That’s how you make your leather go the distance.

Tips for Removing Stains and Spots from Leather Boots

Even the most careful boot owners can encounter the occasional stain, whether it’s a splash of coffee or a brush with muddy terrain.

No matter the stain, act swiftly. The sooner you tackle a stain, the easier it’ll be to remove. The best way to clean leather boots is as early as possible, by following these steps:

  • Dry stains – Use an eraser or fine-grit sandpaper for dry stains. Go at it nice and gently until the stain lifts out.
  • Wet stains – For wet stains, blot with a clean cloth to absorb as much of the substance as possible. As hard as it may be, avoid the urge to rub; you might accidentally spread the stain.
  • Stubborn stains – For stubborn spots, a specialized leather cleaner is your best option. It’s the heavy artillery of your leather care kit when addressing those extra tough stains that have already set.

Remember: less is often more when treating stains on leather. Gradual, gentle treatment can help recapture your boots’ pristine look without causing damage.

How to Condition and Moisturize Leather Boots for Longevity

Like your skin, leather needs hydration to maintain its suppleness and prevent cracks. That’s where conditioning and moisturizing come into your boot care regime. Here’s how you should condition leather boots:

  1. Choose the right conditioner – Make sure you’re using not just a specialty leather conditioner, but also one designed for your specific leather fabric type. If you’re wearing suede or nubuck leather, you’ll want a different conditioner than for a standard pair of smooth leather boots. The same goes for patent leather, too.
  2. Apply the conditioner – Using a clean cloth, massage a small amount of conditioner into the leather. Take it easy and imagine you’re giving your boots a mini spa treatment.
  3. Let it soak – Allow the conditioner to penetrate into the leather and do its thing. Check the directions on your product for the exact amount of time you need to wait.
  4. Buff off excess – After allowing it to soak, gently buff off any excess conditioner. This prevents any residue from attracting dirt.

Regularly conditioning and moisturizing protects your leather boots from drying out and cracking, so they can maintain a timeless glow.

Best Practices for Polishing and Buffing Leather Boots

Last but not least, let’s make sure your boots shine like the day you bought them. Polishing not only makes your boots look dapper but also adds an extra layer of protection against the elements. It’s the finishing touch that makes your boots truly stand out.

Here’s how simple the process is:

  • Choose a quality polish – Opt for a leather-specific polish. Go for a color that matches your boots, or a neutral, all-purpose product.
  • Apply the polish – Using a polishing brush, sponge, or a soft cloth, move in small circular motions when applying the polish. Think of it as doodling tiny donuts on your boots.
  • Buff to shine – Once the polish is dry, buff it off with a clean shoe brush. The aim is to achieve that eye-catching sheen.
  • Add extra gloss – For extra gloss, hold a heated source (like a hairdryer) a few inches away. Be careful not to get too close! Their shine may be drool-worthy, but you’re not trying to cook them.

Now that’s a serious glow up. Finally, we have to ensure those stunning looks are properly protected.

Protecting Leather Boots: Tips for Waterproofing and Stain Prevention

Your leather boots are faithful companions on all your walks of life, so giving them a shield against water and stains is like providing them an airtight insurance policy.

Here’s your game plan:

  • Waterproofing – If you’ve ever wondered, are leather boots waterproof?”, the answer is not necessarily. Use a quality waterproofing spray specifically designed for leather boots. Spray it evenly all over your boots, keeping the nozzle about six inches away. This will form a protective barrier against water. It’s like an invisible shield your boots can wear whenever they’re stepping out. Perfect for rainy commutes!
  • Stain prevention – Prevention is better than cure, right? Regularly clean and condition your boots to stop stains from settling in by using a proper shoe care kit. When a stain does sneak through your defenses, tackle it immediately with our stain-removal advice.
  • Regular maintenance – A solid upkeep routine is essential. Brush off dirt after each wear, keep them dry, and store them somewhere safe, ideally in a less-humid environment.

Remember, your boots and booties aren’t just footwear—they’re part of your fashion signature. Keep them at their best with these protective measures.

Storing and Preserving Leather Boots: Dos and Don’ts

Storing and preserving your leather boots isn’t rocket science, but there are certain dos and don’ts that can help them retain their charm longer.


  • Store them in a cool, dry place – Leather loves a bit of chill, and absolutely hates moisture. So, always store your boots somewhere cool and dry.
  • Use shoe trees or boot shapers – These handy tools keep your boots in their proper shape, preventing unsightly creases and cracks.
  • Let them breathe – If you’re storing them in a box, make sure it’s breathable to prevent mold.


  • Expose them to direct sunlight – Sunlight can fade and dry out leather which causes it to crack. Keep your boots out of the sun while they’re off your feet.
  • Store dirty boots – Always clean your boots before storing them. Dirt and stains can settle in, making them harder to remove later.
  • Stack them – While it might save some space, stacking leather boots can cause them to lose their shape and take on unnecessary creases. Every boot deserves its own personal space.

With these simple storage and preservation tactics, your boots will always be ready to roll.

Vionic—Live the Leather Boot Life

And that’s how to care for leather boots! With a pinch of effort and the right approach, your leather boots will march on in pristine condition for miles and miles.

At Vionic, we’re passionate about footwear and its care. Our gorgeous range of boots are curated with the same devotion. We hope you found this guide helpful, and encourage you to explore more advice on our blog. If you enjoyed this one, you’ll love our guide on how to break in leather boots.

Until then, here’s to simple, consistent boot care!



  1. Clare, Abigail. “Leather Fibre Structure and Strength.” Authenticae. 10 September, 2021.
  2. “Is Leather Breathable?” Leatherprofy.

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