Ask the Gear Guy

Caring for leather boots

Q. I have some old leather boots that are dry and stiff. I polish them, but it doesn’t seem to help. Is there a way to get them smooth and more durable?
– Beat-Up Boots Ben, Mansfield, Pa.

A. Hey, Ben, thanks for the question. Here’s what you need to do:

– Clean your boots. Grab a soft-bristled brush. Rinse your boots with cool water and brush the dirt and grime off the seams and stitching. Clean the insides, too.

– Dry the boots. Pick a warm, dry place where they can air dry. Stuff newspaper inside the boots to help them dry out more quickly.

– Condition the leather. Once your boots are dry, lightly coat the leather with a conditioner like Nikwax Conditioner for Leather ($8 MSRP;

– Waterproof. Spray on or rub in a waterproofing product from brand names like Nikwax or ReviveX (

Do all that, and your boots will be good to go.


Comments about “Caring for leather boots”

  1. Akela says:

    Do as mentioned above.

    I’d recommend using saddle soap during the cleaning process. Saddle soap will help clean and make the leather more supple.

    After the boots are dry, inspect them for salt stains on the leather. If these white stains are there, reclean the boots, using saddle soap. Salt will make the leather feel hard. You may have to clean the boots several times to remove all the salt.

    Condition and waterproof as stated above.

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