Clean, Condition, Polish and Protect
There are four main steps to keep in mind when it comes to cowboy boot care: Clean, Condition, Polish and Protect. Regardless of what type of boots you have, these four steps should be followed to keep them looking their best and lasting the longest.
Clean: Using a damp, soft cloth or a soft brush, wipe off ay loose dirt or dust. Refrain from using saddle soap unless a stain is particularly stubborn, and make sure you remove the soap while it is still wet. Saddle soap that is allowed to dry on boots, or rubbed in, will dry the leather out more. Always condition boots after cleaning with saddle soap.
Condition: Apply a boot/leather conditioner and buff in with a soft cloth. It is important to choose a conditioner based on your specific boots needs. An oil based conditioner will darken leather, so should only be applied to darker colored boots. A lanolin based conditioner, however, will not darken leather. Remember, it is better to add multiple thin coats, than one thick coat.
Polish: Buff a matching cream polish into leather with a soft cloth. When in doubt, use a clear polish. Polishing can make worn boots look new again by covering scratches and adding a glossy finish.
Protect: Keeping up with the above steps is the best way to protect smooth leather, but it’s always a good idea to spray boots with a non-silicone water/stain protecting spray.
Clean: Remove dirt and stains with a suede brush/stone. This will also restore the leather nap.
Condition: Suede is an exception to the usual condition rule, as it can cause discoloration.
Polish: Again, it is not advisable to polish suede boots.
Protect: Spray with a non-silicone water/stain protector. It is always recommended to spray suede boots before wearing them outside for the first time.
Clean: Using a damp, soft cloth or a soft brush, wipe off ay loose dirt or dust.
Condition: Apply a water based, or exotic specific, conditioner in thin layers. Exotic leathers do not absorb conditioner the way soft leathers do, so it is important to work in thin layers.
Polish: Apply a clear, or matching colored, polish with a soft cloth. For leathers that have scales, like snakeskin, be careful to wipe in the direction of the scales.
Protect: Spray with a non-silicone water/stain protector.
Always let boots air dry away from direct heat. Once boots are dry (it may take a couple days, be patient!), follow up with appropriate cleaning/conditioning routine.
Boot trees will help maintain boots shape while allowing air circulation and preventing odors.
Don’t neglect the soles of your boots, especially if they’re leather! It’s a good idea to keep leather soles cleaned and conditioned to prevent cracking and extend wear.
Wax should always be applied AFTER conditioning—used alone it will just dry out the leather.