Your boots will last a very long time if taken care of properly. The rules that apply to care and conditioning of your boots are very simple. Care for your boots in much the same manner as you treat your skin. The leather in your cowboy boots requires nutrients to keep them supple and strong.
The four steps for proper boot care are:
1. Clean with soft damp cloth
2. Condition with approved leather conditioner
3. Polish only with approved creams
4. Protect from heat, cold, dampness!
Wipe off the Dust
Remember that leather is skin and will react much the same your own skin does, so the most important thing you can do in caring for any piece of leather footwear is to keep it free of dust. Dust will settle into the creases of boots. The dust acts like sandpaper cutting the finish with every step you take. Sooner or later it will cut through not only the finish but the fiber itself and the leather will split. So, wipe off your boots often, not just before you shine them, but every time you take them off. Wipe the dust off with a soft cloth. You do need to make this a habit, as you cannot wipe them off to often.
Wash off Loose Dirt
Boots need a good cleaning and conditioning every so often, Begin by removing loose dirt and dried mud with a damp cloth, followed by a good brushing of the boot.
Apply a Quality Conditioner
Conditioner helps to maintain the original look and feel of the leather. Conditioning keeps the boots from drying out. Use a conditioner specially formulated for boots. Lanolin based products work best. Meltonian All-Purpose Cleaner & Conditioner is an excellent boot cleaner & conditioner for all leather.
You should never let your boot leather dry out. While the leather is still moist from wiping the dust away, apply a lather conditioner. Apply these in several thin layers rather then all at once. Apply conditioner to boots gently in a thin layer. Once the conditioner has dried, it should be buffed with a soft cloth. The final step is to apply a boot cream to the boot and buff. You should use a matching color cream with new boots. As a pointer on the boot cream color, as your boots age, choose cream that is a shade darker then the color of the boot. Leathers fade slightly as they age and this will return them to their original color. Never mix brushes! Keep brushes for each color of polish with that particular brush.
Harder surface leathers require a little more time in keeping dust and dirt out of the tiles especially in the folds as boots age. The life of the boot is greatly extended by keeping them clean and conditioned. Be sure to brush conditioner all the way to the sole line. Many people forget that area of the boot and it can cause the boot to crack and pull away at the sole. If the boot has a leather sole, it should also be conditioned. This increases the life of the sole because it restores moisture, which deters cracking.
Stubborn stains may require a little extra work to remove. Sticky spots such as dried soda or alcohol can be removed by using a solution of equal parts of water and vinegar. Some scuffs and marks can be removed by a light rubbing with a pencil eraser. It is important to remember that when conditioning or if the boots get wet, you need to allow them to dry away from direct heat.
Polish with Cream
Boot wax is not really necessary. The wax can be applied over the cream. We do not recommend saddle soap for your boots, however, if you do decide to use this product do not let it dry on the boots and do not rub it in. Saddle soap should be wiped off wet. While mink oil is used to waterproof some oil-tanned leather items, it also seals the pores and eventually causes the leather to crack. It is not recommended for boots.
One final thing to remember is that wax is water based and will dry out boots.
Protect from Heat, Cold and Dampness
Never allow your boots to be stored in extreme temperatures. They should never become too hot, too cold and especially do not store them in damp areas as they will mildew. The very best way to store your boots is to place cedar boot trees in them to maintain the foot shape and absorb moisture. Use boot shapers in the tops to keep them from collapsing ruining the shape of the shafts. The boots should be stored in the original box on their sides and keep in a dry place. A shelf in a closet is better than on the floor of the closet. Do not stuff items into the boots that will restrict air flow as you will be inviting mildew inside of the boot. If the soles get wet, allow them to dry on their sides rather than standing up. This will allow the soles to dry more throughly.
Step-By-Step Boot Care
• Brush off dirt or dust from your boots with a damp cloth or soft brush.
• Apply a leather conditioner in very thin layers. Do not over apply this product.
• Apply a neutral or matching cream-based polish, such as Meltonian brand to your boots and buff with a soft cloth.
• Never use oils or wax based polish on your boots.
• Never use Mink Oil, Saddle Soap or similar type product.
• Be sure to store boots so that they can breathe.
• Keep them away from light, which can fade the color, and damp.
If your boots get wet…
• Soak up excess moisture with a clean towel.
• Allow the leather to dry naturally.
• Do not use a heat source to speed up the process.
• After the boots are completely dry, restore them with a leather condition in thin layers.
• Use a nail brush to remove dry mud and scuff marks from the outsoles and heels. Be gentle and use delicate strokes.
More Helpful Tips
• Use edge dressing to make outsoles and heels look new.
• Do not store in cold or damp places; mildew can destroy a cowboy boot.
• Care for your boots with boot trees to help maintain the foot shape.
• Use boot shapers to keep the shape of the tops of your boots.