Discover How To Restore Leather Boots In 5 Easy Steps

If your leather boots have taken a beating, you probably need to restore them. If you find a pair of leather boots that are beat to heck on the used market, you'll probably need to restore them.

The great thing about quality leather boots is that they can always be brought back to life, unless catastrophic damage - like a tear in the leather, for instance - makes it impossible.

There may also be only so much you can do, as some restoration and repairs must involve the professionals. However, you'd be amazed at how much you can do to restore leather boots or shoes with minimal materials and a bit of elbow grease.

In fact, here's how you can do it in 5 easy steps.

Resole Or Rebuild Leather Boots As Needed

restoring leather work boots

The first step is to start the boot off at square one if needs be by having the boots or shoes resoled or rebuilt if parts of the upper are beginning to loosen.

This is partially up to you.

If you're just addressing your boots slight decline into funkiness and have plenty of life left in the tread, don't worry about it. If the soles are obviously worn, or if you bought used boots that you're making a project of, it's best to start with a clean slate and have them resoled.

After that, time to restore the leather to its former glory.

Clean Your Leather Boots

The first step is to clean your leather boots.

Start by brushing away as much of the dirt, mud, dust, much and grime as possible. Get it as clean as you can. The upper is easy, but for the welting - where the outsole meets the upper - the best thing to use is an old toothbrush that you don't use anymore.

Get your leather boots or shoes as free of dirt and debris as you can. After you're done, hit those boots with some saddle soap.

Saddle soap, if you aren't familiar, is a leather cleaning compound that uses totally natural ingredients to clean but also hydrate and nourish leather products. It's the default cleaning product for leather because it just works too well.

Work up a lather on the saddle soap with a damp cloth or sponge. Clean your leather boots in a circular motion until all the dirt and debris is cleaned off. Wipe away the excess with a clean cloth.

Get Creases Out Of Your Leather Shoes Or Boots

Usually, a heavily used or old pair of leather shoes or boots will develop some creases. These are caused by the leather flexing as you walk.

Some people don't care about this step, but it's a good thing to do if you want to preserve the aesthetic qualities of your boots or shoes.

The best practice is to use cedar shoe trees if you can. These vaguely foot-shaped devices are inserted into the shoe or boot and press the upper outward to their original shape. If you can't get them, stuff your boots with balled-up newspaper.

After saddle soaping, your boot leather will have been hydrated a little and softened. What you do here is to heat up the leather so it can take the shape of the shoe trees or newspaper reinforcing the boot's shape.

The best practice is to use a heat gun. Don't get it close enough to scorch, but close enough to heat and soften the leather. Make some nice, slow, even passes and heat up the creased section of the upper.

After it cools, you'll notice the creases have either greatly diminished or disappeared.

Condition Boots With Leather Oil

The next step is to rehydrate, nourish and condition the leather with some leather oil. Doing so puts some moisture back in the leather, and puts a bit of material on top of the leather to protect it.

If your boots are dry, cracked and beaten like they owed somebody money, it's likely they weren't oiled or given any leather conditioner for quite some time. Leather shouldn't feel dry; it should feel a bit moist to the touch.

Basically, just wipe the boot down until the entire surface has a good even coat and let it sit for a few hours. Then pick them up and have a look and feel. Do they feel dry? You need to repeat the process.

What you'll notice is that the leather will darken, as it has gotten wet. That's normal. However, once the leather has a slightly tacky feel to it, it's time to move on.

Grease Or Polish Your Leather Boots

The next is to either grease or polish your leather boots. Which you'll want to do depends on the boot as well as what you're doing with it.

If you have a pair of more casual or heritage boots, then you'll want to use shoe polish on them. You can either polish to a high mirror shine or stick to a more matte-like appearance. That much is up to you.

If your boots are rough-out leather or otherwise are working footwear, meaning a pair of work boots that you're going to use as work boots, then don't bother with polish. In that instance, use boot grease. Apply like you'd apply oil, wipe off the excess, and let them dry overnight.

For polishing, we recommend applying a cream polish to start as an extra layer of nourishment and to fill in creases and cracks in the leather. Add in a swirling pattern and evenly coat the whole boot.

After creaming, apply an even layer of wax polish over the boot in a swirling motion until evenly coated. For a matte finish, buff the polish with a horsehair brush or buffing cloth.

For a high mirror shine, use a lightly damp towel, wrapped tight around the index finger, to make small swirling circles around the whole boot. You don't shine the leather; you're making the wax polish shine. Then use a buffing cloth on the toe cap and heel for that high shine.

Let them dry overnight, and then put them on and enjoy!