Boot Conditioning Tips : How to Condition Leather Boots

Boot Conditioning Tips How to Condition Leather Boots

One of the things you need to learn is to condition your leather boots, because it will make the difference when it comes to prolonging its life. Leather is like human skin that requires nourishment, but leather depends on you to provide this. In this guide we will show you how to properly condition your leather boots.

Materials You Will Need

  • Leather boots
  • Leather conditioner
  • Bristle brush or toothbrush
  • Wet paper towel
  • Warm water

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Check your boots for signs of damage, rot, stains or scratches. Repair any damage before conditioning. If the boots are new, determine if it requires waterproofing.
  2. Take the laces off and soak them in warm water for a couple of minutes. Let it dry naturally.
  3. Remove the sole and use toothbrush or a bristle brush to clean off the dirt.
  4. Use lint free cloth or a dry drag to remove dirt and dust on the leather boots. Be thorough around the upper and tongue as that is where dirt tends to accumulate. If necessary, use a damp rag to remove the dirt and dust.
  5. Use a bristle brush to buff the boots. For stubborn dirt, apply leather cleaner with cloth and buff with a bristle brush. Clean it up with a damp cloth.
  6. Apply conditioner. There are several options including mink oil, leather oil, leather conditioner and boot creams. Mink oil softens leather, so be careful when using that. Most conditioners work on different types of leather, and your boots should indicate what type of conditioner to use.
  7. Coat your boots, or apply two coatings if they’re really dirty. Use soft cloth to apply the conditioner and a soft bristle brush for buffing.
  8. Depending on the boots, you may need to apply waterproofing as well. If that’s the case, put the boots over some newspapers and apply the waterproofing solution. Spray only in a well ventilated area.
  9. Let your boots dry overnight. After 12 or 24 hours, rub with a dry rag to get rid of any excess moisture and oil. You may also polish the boots after conditioning, but it’s not required. The extra polish however, can ensure the conditioning is maintained for a long period.

Tips for Leather Conditioning

  • Some leather conditioners darken leather, albeit in varying amounts. The darkening effect is most obvious in the first few days after conditioning, after which it wears off. For dark leather boots this isn’t an issue. If you’ve got light colored leather boots, spot test the conditioner on a small area to see how dark it gets.
  • Rub in a circular motion, and there is no need to push very hard. Just make certain you cover the entire surface.
  • The amount of conditioning a leather boot needs vary. This isn’t an exact science, but you will learn how much is needed depending on the boots’ condition. If they’re heavily used and haven’t been conditioned in a while, a double coating will be needed. A single coating will do if your boots are well maintained.
  • Do not set rules on how often your boots need to be conditioned. Don’t wait for the right time to condition. If your boots have deep creases or discoloring, it’s a sign conditioning is required. Don’t wait any longer because those creases could turn into cracks.
  • Leather boots are most vulnerable in hot and dry environments. If you work in this kind of place, condition the boots more often.

Types of Leather Conditioning and Cleaning

  • Soaps: some soaps are ideal for leather boots, but you have to make sure the ingredients are suitable for the leather. Suede for instance, is very sensitive.
  • Conditioners: this is a general term used for leather boot maintenance. The substance is absorbed by the leather, which helps keep it soft and flexible.
  • Polish: polishes are made from wax-like substances that make a boot’s surface smoother. While conditioners work mostly in the interior, polishing provides protection for the boots’ surface.Polishing however, does not provide as much protection when it comes to strengthening. Polish also doesn’t make boots more breathable.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Question:How often should I condition my boots?

​Answer: ​You will know it is time to condition them when the leather feels dry or has a chalky appearance. That’s the sign your boots need conditioning.

Question:What types of boots need frequent leather conditioning?

​Answer: ​It is not so much the type of leather but how you use those boots. Boots that are always exposed to severe heat are going to need more conditioning than the typical leather footwear.

Question:Why should I clean my boots prior to conditioning?

​Answer: ​Dirt and dust are likely to get stuck on the boots if you condition first. Conditioning will not clean the boots, as it is more about maintaining ad restoring the leather’s integrity.

Question:When do I stop applying the conditioner?

​Answer: ​​When the conditioner no longer soaks and starts to wet the boot’s surface, it’s a sign to stop.

Question:How long does leather conditioning take?

​Answer: ​It depends on how chalky the boots are. It could take a few minutes or more than half an hour.

Question:What is the best way to apply leather conditioner for boots?

​Answer: L​int free clothing is ideal because it won’t leave marks or scratches on the leather.

Question:Why is it important to condition my leather boots?

​Answer: ​Conditioning makes leather boots stronger, and it helps prevent cracks from appearing.

Question: ​Is it necessary to condition and polish at the same time?

​Answer: ​Conditioning comes first, but there are some products which work on both levels. Read the product description if the conditioner needs polishing afterwards.


Leather boots come in in all shapes, sizes and colors, but what they all share in common is the need to be conditioned. As we have shown here, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to do this, and what you get in return is a better looking and durable pair of boots.