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Easy Tips To Buff and Polish Your Boots

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The leather is probably one of the toughest materials we use for clothing and shoes. It can last for several years if treated right.

But that brings the next question...

How to take care of leather shoes?
Can I extend the life of my leather shoes?
How often should I polish so I can maintain it's shine?

Here are some tips on how you can take care of your leather shoes to get the most out of them.

Leather Treatment Methods

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Leather is known for being extraordinarily tough, so the only thing to worry about is aesthetics. Having said that, most polishes do contain moisturizers to soften and waterproof it.

If you consistently polish your shoes, it can go a long way.

With that said, these questions will follow...

How frequent should you polish your shoes?

Well, it depends on the shoes' purpose or use.

If these are work shoes that you use on a ranch or are intended for construction sites, then you don't need to stress yourself in polishing them too often. Let them be DIRTY! These are the shoes that are designed and created to serve its purpose.

If they are dress shoes that you wear to formal occasions, then you might want to polish them every day or every other day even if you don't use them that often. Doing so will prevent the shine from fading away, and will keep your shoes looking sleek any day of the week.

Cream or Conditioner

Leather conditioner is a moisturizing agent that prevents leather goods from drying out and developing cracks. Again as mentioned above, most shoe polishes do contain moisturizers but will never be enough if your shoes are super dry.

Similar to how your skin soaks up a lotion, leather soaks up the moisturizer when it is gently rubbed into the leather's surface.

Then again, you'll ask...

How often do I need to moisturize my leather shoes? The answer will be entirely up to you.

Some people prefer to wait until their leather gets really dry before applying some moisturizer. Meaning, they moisturize their shoes only once or twice a year.


Because this will give the shoes a rugged look, somewhat like an outdoors look that you might love if you're an outdoors type of person.

Does it matter if I wish to moisturize more often?

Here's one view that you might consider...

Other boot lovers prefer to moisturize their leather more often, like every once in one or two months. Yes, you heard it right!

What's the purpose?

Keep the leather as clean and as spick-and-span as it can be. Maintain its shininess and, therefore, will always look good as new. Perfect for boot users that find themselves attending to formal occasions.


It is a good practice to waterproof your leather shoes every once in a while.

Believe it or NOT, once or twice a year is enough as it can last a long time once applied on the shoes. You can choose from different varieties like sprays, waxes, and creams for waterproofing.

I seldom use sprays because I am not very happy with the outcome. Plus, it requires an additional task of spraying it unto your laces, zippers, etc. which is odd and most often than not, shorten the purpose of these shoe accessories.

Our recommendation? WAXES OR CREAMS!

Waxes or creams are better options in terms of quality, but they do take longer to apply. However, they are much more durable and offer you a higher degree of precision and control.

But whatever works for you well, you have my full support.

Spray or wax, remember to reapply your waterproofing agent several times during winter or rainy seasons.

Damp Cloth

A simpler routine that can be done is by wiping your shoes down with a damp cloth. As mention earlier in this post, leather is naturally tough, using a damp cloth to clean your shoes will not damage it as long as you don't use soap.


It is because the chemicals in the soap can damage leather over time.

Using this method of cleaning your shoes is the easiest. What it does for your shoes is that it gets rid of dirt and dust particles, which usually is the primary cause of damage in most leather goods.

So whether you are a hardcore leather buff or simply enjoying wearing a pair of leather shoes once in a while, wiping your shoes down with a damp cloth every once in a while is very helpful in keeping them healthy for as long as possible.

Suede Brush

If your boots are made of suede, then the methods mentioned above are not right for you.

Where does it come from?

Well, suede is the underside of the animal's hide. It reacts very differently from leather to treatments.

How to care for suede boots?

To treat suede, you can get brushes that are specifically designed for them. They are made of a certain kind of wire that keeps suede clean while maintaining the integrity of the texture and color of the fabric. You also get conditioners that are made for suede.

One important thing to remember when dealing with suede is that you must never use water with it. Water can be very destructive to suede. Apart from that, follow the instructions that come with your suede shoes, and you should be good to go.

How To Care for Suede Boots

To treat suede, you can get brushes that are specifically designed for them. They are made of a certain kind of wire that keeps suede clean while maintaining the integrity of the texture and color of the fabric. You also get conditioners that are made for suede.

One important thing to remember when dealing with suede is that you must never use water with it. Water can be very destructive to suede. Apart from that, follow the instructions that come with your suede shoes, and you should be good to go.

Caring For Your Boots

Choosing a Cleaner and Conditioner Treatment

Choosing the right cleaner and conditioner for your shoes is very important.

The reason?

It's because different kinds of leather require different types of treatment. You'll have to know the type of leather your shoes were made of. You have to identify whether it's made from full-grain or rougher leather like suede or nubuck.

So with that said...

If your boots were made of full grain leather, then you can look for something that can serve as a cleaner and at the same time can renew the boots waterproof finish.

If your shoes are made of suede or nubuck, you can simply clean and re-waterproof them.

Cleaning Your Boots

To begin with, use a little water to remove dust and other particles from the surface of your boots. These tiny particles like dirt and dust, tend to compromise the conditioner's function and thus can serve as an obstruction in the process of absorption while on the shoes.

The exterior layer of your boots should be wet before waterproofing them. Remove the laces so that you can get into each nook.

Only use a soft brush to remove all the dirt and dust before finally rinsing the boots down with water and whatever conditioner you have chosen.

Apply Conditioner

Now here comes the part where you can start applying the conditioner.

Are you ready?

Know that after dumping it with water, this is the ideal time to apply conditioner.

Why so?

It is because wet leather can absorb all the things it needs to stay strong and tough. If your boots are dry or not damp enough, you could always wrap them up in a soaked towel and leave them in the utility sink for a few hours. Then apply the conditioner generously across the surface of the boots until you are satisfied.

Drying and Storing Your Boots

The drying stage is easy as 1-2-3.

All you have to do is keep them at room temperature and keep them in a place that has low levels of humidity.


It is important that you do not use a heat source because this might cause irreparable damage to your boots. If you are in a hurry and you want to speed up the drying process, you can use a fan to dry them.

You can also stuff newspaper (or any paper) in your shoes to help them dry faster from the inside. Just remember to swap the paper out when it gets too damp. And also, remember to store your boots in a place where the temperature is stable and normal. Do not store them in your garage or your attic or anywhere that is hot or unventilated.

Waterproofing Your Boots

Generally speaking, high-quality leather shoes are almost resistant to water damage.

What if it's raining all the time?

The only thing you need to do is to apply a conditioner to its surface regularly. However, if you want to go the extra mile in waterproofing your leather shoes, then there are a few things you can do.

Follow on...

First, you can use a wax-based polish after you condition your shoes. Wax is known to repel water very effectively.

Then apply a waterproof agent on your shoes.

Principles of Leather Care

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Leather Needs to Breathe

Like our skin, leather needs to breathe to stay healthy and not become mildewy and rotten.


The leather allows air to pass through it naturally, giving moisture a natural exit. This is why you should store your leather goods (NOT JUST BOOTS) in a packaging or wrapping that breathes like a pillowcase or any cloth bag.


Never store them in airtight places like in a plastic grocery bag.

Keep It Away From Direct Sunlight and Heat

When your leather boots get wet, it is very tempting to dry them in front of a fire or a heater or whatever heat source.


This is bad for leather!

Again, WHY?

It is because it causes the materials to shrink and dry out too quickly.

Our recommendation?

Air drying your boots naturally is the only way to go, even if it takes a few days. A general rule of thumb is to keep your boots out of direct sunlight, which can speed up the leather's aging process. You should store them in a cool and ventilated place with a little moisture.

Test First

Before applying any polish or conditioner, it is always wise to test it out.

How to do it?


On a small portion of your boot, apply the polish or conditioner.

The shoe polish and conditioner can often change the color of the leather. If you test your products on a small area and let it dry for a day or two, you're assured that there are no odd color changes or better yet the color is not too different from what you like.

One more thing, stick to your brand!

Once you have found the brand or brands that you like, you won't need to test them again.

Go With Natural or Neutral Colours

Most shoe polish would come in three different colors - black, brown, and neutral.

With black boots, a black polish will do just fine.

And for brown?

This can be a bit of a problem. You'll be forever on a wild goose chase looking for the shade of brown that is a perfect match for your boots.

The solution...

You can buy a neutral color to avoid changing the hue of your shoes.

Regularly Clean with a Damp Cloth

As we have already mentioned, dusting and wiping dirt tend to speed up the aging process of your leather goods.

Not to mention...

That can get in the way when applying polish or conditioner to your boots.

You know the drill!

To deal with this, wipe your boots down with a damp cloth every once in a while. Set a time at least once a week to pick up a damp cloth and wipe your shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you take care of nubuck, suede, and "specialty" leather work boots?

If you have boots that are made of nubuck and suede, you'll have to go about cleaning them a little differently.

First off, you'll need a plastic or wire brush to remove surface dirt before it sets in. Then you can use a boot protector spray and conditioner that are specially made for either nubuck or suede. Just remember that these products cannot be used interchangeably, meaning that you must make sure to use the nubuck products on nubuck shoes and suede products on suede shoes ONLY.

What home remedy can I use to clean my boots?

If you don't like using a store-bought polish, or if you have run out and in a hurry to clean your boots, there are some home remedy alternatives you can use to get the job done.

This means cleaning using baking soda, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cream of tartar. These substances have similar effects on leather-like shoe polish and conditioner. These agents can be a good substitute for the real deal when you don't have any.


So there you have it, if you haven't been taking care of your leather boots, then this article should help you keep them as good as new for as long as possible.

These can all be done in a few minutes and the comfort of your own home. All you need to do is, follow the roadmap. You'll be on track to see excellent results.

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