How To Care For Leather Hiking Boots


It’s for obvious reasons that we choose leather boots for hiking over other types of shoes. With them and gaiters on, you don’t have to worry about your feet getting wet, or getting injured while exploring the rocks.

But like many hikers, you probably have this habit too – getting home all tired and exhausted and throwing your hiking boots in the backyard until the next backcountry trip.  And when you actually need them, they are all dirty, cracked, and looking awful.

You want your leather hiking boots to be a store of memories, a good place to get started when telling your kids about your outdoor experiences when you were young and vibrant. Thus, you want them to last long and still look good, right? Then this guide on how to clean leather boots and care for them is all you need.

Maintaining Your Boots The Right Way

Leather boot care may seem demanding but it’s worth every second. The best care routine involves cleaning, conditioning, drying, and storing the boots. You will need to invest in a few things to make the process successful:

  • A soft cleaning brush
  • Cleaning detergent; don’t use bleach.
  • Leather Conditioner
  • A sponge or old cloth

1. Cleaning The Leather Boots

Before you even get started, you have to prepare an appropriate cleaning area if your boots are all messy and covered with mud or dust particles. If you are going to clean them in the house, you can lay a piece of cloth or newspapers on the surface of your carpet to avoid having an extra duty in the end. If you are working from outside, then there is no need for all that.

Whether your hands are sensitive or not, it is important to have a pair of gloves on before you even start doing anything. You can grab a pair from your first aid kit and remember to make a replacement.

Place your dirty boots on a flat surface, remove the shoelaces, and put them aside. Dust the outside of the shoes using a soft brush. The essence of this is to remove the dust particles or any form of dirt that may have settled on the surface. This will make the penetration of water into the outer areas of the shoes easier enhancing maximum cleaning.

Soak a piece of cloth in water (which we assume already has the detergent of your choice) and then scrub the surface of the boots gently and thoroughly. Rinse the soap off with clean water. You may choose to use running water to ensure that the rinsing is perfect. Leave the boots to air dry for about 15 minutes.

2. Conditioning Your Leather Boots

Apart from dirt, there is also something else that is threatening your boots; drying and cracking!

It is normal for moisture to escape from the leather surface as soon as you leave them to dry. This leads to cracking and, without a doubt, looking ugly. The worst part is, once the cracks are already there and visible there is nothing you can do about them, your boots are now permanently damaged!

So, the most important thing is prevention and the best thing to do is to apply some conditioner as soon as you are done with the cleaning.

Apply as instructed on the packaging of the product you are using in a circular motion and leave it for 10 minutes. Later, use a dry cloth to wipe off any excess product. This whole thing will keep your leather flexible and prevent water penetration that causes the cracking.

3. Drying Your Leather Boots


Now that you know how to clean leather boots and condition them, it’s now time to dry them up and store them away. You can stuff old newspapers in the boots for them to hasten the process. Ensure you change the newspapers often or as soon as they start getting dump.

You can as well leave them to dry at room temperature. Don’t be tempted to use any form of heat on them. The latter may force-dry the leather and cause the boots to crack and get damaged.

4. Storing The Boots

Before putting your boots away, take a keen look at them to see if there are any repairs needed. If any, then this is probably a good time to give your cobbler a call.  Don’t do the repairs yourself if you are not sure how to go about it.

You can ask your buddies if they know anyone who can do it perfectly. If you live close to a military base, it’s guaranteed that you will get someone who is experienced enough for the job.

Store your boots in a well-ventilated room that has a low temperature. Do not leave them in the garage inside the car.

Globo Surf Overview

How to clean leather boots is as easy as stated above. It doesn’t take much time and if it does, we are sure it’s better than having to go back to your retailer to get a new pair. We believe this is more expensive and having to break in your hiking boots again is even boring.

But the problem is, you can follow all the steps mentioned above but still get messed up by cheap products. Be warned! We don’t want you to lose your expensive leather boots to some cheap conditioner or cleaner.

Get your cleaning products right from the word go. You can ask your retailer for the best cleaner, conditioner, and probably the best polish to use on your boots.

When it comes to cleaning, you can do it at least every time you use them; it’s important. But if you wear your boots daily you can consider cleaning and conditioning them at least once a month but wipe them daily. For polishing, you can do it daily.

Making your boots a responsibility is one way of being assured of using the same pair over and over again until they become part of your memories.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. How to make your leather boots last forever,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!