Leather boots are a stylish and durable footwear choice. However, after seasons of wear, even the best leather boots can start to look faded, scuffed or dusty. If you’re looking to revive and refresh your favorite leather boots, some simple cleaning steps using common household ingredients can get them looking great again.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Clean leather boots at home by mixing a solution of warm water and mild dish soap, scrubbing dirt and grime off with a soft brush, wiping off the soap with a damp cloth, then applying a leather conditioner like mink oil or leather polish when dry.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to deep clean leather boots at home. We’ll cover how to prep boots for cleaning, make a leather-safe cleaning solution, use brushes and cloths to gently remove dirt and stains, properly dry boots after cleaning, and condition the leather when done.

Supplies Needed for Cleaning Leather Boots

Mild Dish Soap

One of the essential supplies you will need for cleaning your leather boots at home is a mild dish soap. This is a gentle yet effective cleaner that can help remove dirt, grime, and stains from your boots without causing any damage to the leather.

Make sure to choose a dish soap that does not contain any harsh chemicals or additives that could potentially harm the leather.

Soft-Bristled Brush

A soft-bristled brush is another important tool for cleaning leather boots. This type of brush is gentle enough to remove dirt and debris from the surface of the leather without scratching or damaging it.

It is recommended to use a brush with natural bristles, such as horsehair, as they are soft and won’t cause any harm to the leather.

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are excellent for cleaning leather boots because they are soft, absorbent, and won’t leave any lint behind. These cloths are ideal for wiping away excess moisture, applying cleaning solutions, and buffing the leather to a shine.

They are also reusable, making them a practical and eco-friendly choice for cleaning your boots.

Leather Conditioner

After cleaning your leather boots, it’s essential to condition them to keep the leather soft, supple, and moisturized. A good quality leather conditioner will not only restore the natural oils in the leather but also provide a protective barrier against water, stains, and cracking.

Look for a conditioner specifically designed for leather boots, and follow the instructions on the product for best results.

Preparing Boots for Cleaning

Remove Shoelaces and Insoles

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to remove the shoelaces and insoles from your leather boots. This will allow you to clean every nook and cranny of the boot without any hindrance.

Plus, it will make the cleaning process more effective, as you won’t have to work around these parts. You can simply remove the shoelaces by untying them and pulling them out from the eyelets. As for the insoles, gently lift them out from the boot and set them aside for cleaning separately.

Inspect Boots for Stains and Damage

Once you’ve removed the shoelaces and insoles, take a moment to inspect your leather boots for any stains or damage. Look closely at the surface of the boots and check for any scuffs, scratches, or discoloration.

This step is crucial because it will help you determine the appropriate cleaning method and products to use. If you spot any deep stains or significant damage, it may be best to consult a professional leather cleaner for assistance.

However, minor stains and scuffs can often be easily remedied with DIY cleaning methods.

Brush Off Loose Dirt

Before applying any cleaning solutions to your leather boots, it’s vital to brush off any loose dirt or debris. Using a soft-bristle brush, gently sweep away any dirt, dust, or mud that may have accumulated on the surface of the boots.

Be sure to pay extra attention to the seams and crevices, as dirt tends to get trapped in these areas. Brushing off the loose dirt will not only make the cleaning process more effective but also prevent the dirt from spreading and causing further damage to your boots.

Making a Leather Cleaning Solution

Mix Dish Soap and Warm Water

One of the easiest and most effective ways to clean leather boots at home is by creating a simple cleaning solution using dish soap and warm water. This solution is gentle enough to not damage the leather but strong enough to remove dirt and grime.

To make the cleaning solution, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water in a bowl. Stir the mixture until it becomes frothy and well-combined.

Pro Tip: It’s important to use mild dish soap as harsh detergents can strip away the natural oils of the leather and cause it to dry out.

Once you have the solution ready, dip a clean cloth or sponge into it and wring out any excess liquid. Gently wipe the surface of the boots, making sure to pay extra attention to any stained or soiled areas.

Fun Fact: Did you know that dish soap is not only great for cleaning dishes, but it can also work wonders on leather boots?

Optional: Add Baking Soda or Vinegar

If your leather boots are heavily soiled or have stubborn stains, you can add baking soda or vinegar to the cleaning solution for some extra cleaning power.

Baking Soda: Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto a damp cloth and gently rub it onto the stained areas of the boots. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive, helping to lift away dirt and grime.Vinegar: Alternatively, you can add a small amount of vinegar to the cleaning solution. Vinegar is known for its stain-removing properties and can help break down tough stains on leather.Caution: Before using baking soda or vinegar on your leather boots, it’s important to spot test these ingredients on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure they don’t cause any discoloration or damage.Expert Tip: For an extra touch of freshness, you can add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree oil, to the cleaning solution. This will leave your boots smelling amazing!

Remember to always wipe off any excess cleaning solution with a damp cloth and allow your leather boots to air dry naturally. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources as this can cause the leather to crack or warp.

For more information on cleaning leather boots and maintaining their quality, you can visit www.leathercleaningrestorationforum.com. They provide valuable insights and tips on leather care.

Cleaning the Leather

Keeping your leather boots clean is essential to maintain their appearance and prolong their lifespan. Regular cleaning will help remove dirt, stains, and oils that can accumulate over time. Here are some steps to effectively clean your leather boots at home.

Apply Cleaning Solution with Brush

Before you start cleaning, make sure to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of your boots. You can use a soft-bristle brush or a clean cloth to gently brush away any dirt. Once the surface is clear, it’s time to apply a leather cleaning solution.

There are many commercially available leather cleaners, or you can make your own solution using a mild soap and water. Apply the cleaning solution to a soft cloth or sponge and gently rub it onto the leather in circular motions. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the boots.

Gently Scrub Stained or Dirty Areas

If you notice any stained or dirty areas on your leather boots, you’ll want to give them some extra attention. Using a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush, gently scrub the stained or dirty areas in a circular motion. This will help to loosen and remove the dirt or stain.

Take care not to scrub too hard, as this can damage the leather. If the stain persists, you may need to repeat the process or consider using a specialized leather stain remover. Remember to always test any cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area of the boot first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.

Rinse Off Soap with Damp Cloth

Once you have finished scrubbing and cleaning the leather, it’s important to remove any remaining soap residue. Take a clean, damp cloth and wipe down the boots to rinse off the cleaning solution. Make sure to wring out the cloth well, as you want it to be damp, not soaking wet.

Continue wiping until all the soap residue is removed. Finally, allow your boots to air dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Regularly cleaning and maintaining your leather boots will not only keep them looking great but also help to prevent the buildup of dirt and stains. Remember to store your boots properly when not in use and consider applying a leather conditioner periodically to keep the leather moisturized and supple.

With proper care, your leather boots will continue to serve you well for years to come.

Drying the Boots Afterwards

Once you have successfully cleaned your leather boots, the next step is to ensure they are properly dried. Drying leather boots is crucial to prevent any damage or mold growth. Here are a few simple steps to follow:

Blot Away Excess Moisture

Firstly, use a clean and dry cloth to blot away any excess moisture from the boots. Gently press the cloth onto the surface of the leather, absorbing as much water as possible. Avoid rubbing the leather vigorously, as this can cause damage to the material.

Stuff Boots with Paper While Drying

To help maintain the shape of your boots as they dry, it is recommended to stuff them with crumpled newspaper or plain white paper. This will not only help them retain their shape but also absorb any remaining moisture.

Make sure to fill the boots evenly, paying extra attention to the toe area and any creases in the leather.

Allow Boots to Air Dry Completely

After blotting away excess moisture and stuffing the boots with paper, it’s time to let them air dry. Find a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources, as excessive heat can cause the leather to crack.

You can place the boots on a clean towel or a shoe rack to allow proper air circulation. The drying process may take several hours, so be patient and resist the temptation to speed up the process with a hairdryer or other artificial heat sources.

Remember, patience is key when drying leather boots. Rushing the process can lead to irreversible damage. By following these simple steps, you can ensure your leather boots dry properly and maintain their quality for years to come.

Conditioning the Leather

One of the most important steps in cleaning leather boots is conditioning them. Conditioning helps to keep the leather soft, supple, and moisturized, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Here are a few steps to effectively condition your leather boots at home:

Apply Leather Conditioner

The first step is to apply a good quality leather conditioner to your boots. Leather conditioners are specially formulated to nourish and protect the leather, restoring its natural oils and preventing it from becoming brittle.

To apply the conditioner, start by cleaning the boots with a soft, dry cloth to remove any dirt or dust. Then, using a clean cloth or sponge, apply a small amount of conditioner to the entire surface of the boots. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying time.

Let Absorb then Buff Shine

After applying the leather conditioner, it’s important to let it absorb into the leather. This allows the conditioner to penetrate the pores and moisturize the leather effectively. Depending on the product you’re using, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes or even overnight.

Once the conditioner has had time to absorb, take a clean, dry cloth and gently buff the boots to a shine. This will help to remove any excess conditioner and bring out the natural luster of the leather.

Consider Waterproofing Spray

In addition to conditioning, it’s also a good idea to consider using a waterproofing spray on your leather boots. Waterproofing sprays create a protective barrier on the surface of the leather, preventing water and other liquids from seeping in and causing damage.

To apply the spray, simply hold the bottle about six inches away from the boots and evenly coat the entire surface. Allow the boots to dry completely before wearing them.

Remember, regular conditioning and waterproofing can help extend the life of your leather boots and keep them looking great for years to come. By following these simple steps, you can easily clean and care for your leather boots at home.


With the right supplies and techniques, you can restore the rich color and supple feel of leather boots at home. Be sure to properly prep boots, use only leather-safe ingredients, gently scrub away grime, fully dry boots after cleaning, and condition the leather afterwards.

Follow these steps and you’ll add years of wear to your favorite leather boots!

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