How to Take Care of your Leather Cowboy Boots
We all have that favorite pair of Leather Cowboy Boots, that just fit us like a glove! To properly care for them, we have to first realize that leather requires occasional attention to replace the natural lubricants lost during normal use.
When someone comes to me and says their boots didn't last very long, I always ask them, "How did you care for the leather on your western boots and how often did you clean and condition them?" They usually tell me that they didn't, they just wore them, and I then tell them "no wonder they didn't last!"
Failure to properly care for leather boots will result in excessive dryness, cracking, stiffness and will ultimately shorten the life of the leather. Here are a few tips on how you can keep your boots looking and performing their best.
Rarely do boots require more than an occasional wipe down with a damp rag. If boots are truly dirty use a glycerin or saddle soap and plenty of warm water, the object is to lift dirt up and away, off the leather, not to rub the dirt in, so wipe and rinse, don't scrub.
Another alternative, especially for boots with colorful stitching or embroidery, is to use a drop of mild hand soap in a pint of warm water. Hand soap does not leave a sticky residue like glycerin, and yet is not as drying as a detergent. For suede leather and stubborn stains there are special cleaners available.
Always allow leather to air dry after cleaning or if it got wet, never place boots on a heat source, doing so will cause over-drying.
The best time to condition is after cleaning, when the leather is still slightly damp. Use your hands to apply conditioner, not a rag. Using a rag will end up with most of the conditioner in the rag, and very little will actually be on the boots. Pour a nickle-sized amount of conditioner onto the palm of your hand and rub your hands together and then rub your hands onto the foot of the boot. Pay special attention to get the conditioner near the very bottom of the boot where it comes in contact with the elements and where the boot flexes.
Use a lotion-type conditioner such as Bick 4
. This product is safe for almost every type of leather, including exotics such as snake, lizard and ostrich. Be careful with what type of product you use on your boots. Oily products such as mink or neatsfoot oil tend to absorb into the stitching, attracting dirt and promoting bacteria growth and will darken the leather considerably. Wax-based products leave a residue in the pores of the leather that is difficult to remove and causes the boots to look dull.
Spraying water and stain repellent, such as Gard-More
is not the same as conditioning. It acts as a protective barrier against animal wastes, salt and repeated wetting, or for preventing stains on extremely light-colored leather, but it does nothing to nourish the leather. Sprays are also recommended for suede or nubuck leather because you will not be able to apply conditioner without weighing down the nap.
Under normal use, only spray your boots during the winter boots, as this is the time when boots are most likely to become wet or come in contact with salt. Only spray every 6 weeks and use conditioner during the rest of the year, otherwise the barrier will prevent absorption of the conditioner.
Avoid using sprays containing silicone or petroleum because they will break down the leather in time.
With a little TLC your leather western boots will last for decades. Why not protect your investment?