Leather is soft and supple when originally tanned, but even well-cared-for leather can lose its pleasing texture and flexibility over time. Conditioning oils applied by the manufacturer eventually dry out and disappear, leaving a favorite pair of boots brittle or disastrously cracked. Despite waterproofing, exposure to heat and rain, and even simple heavy use can all contribute to the loss of moisture in a boot. Restore your boots to their original supple texture with the application of a leather conditioner.
Clean the boots thoroughly. Wipe off all visible dirt with a dry cloth. Go over the boots again with a stiff dry brush, then a wet sponge. Brush the leather with the grain, not against it.
Apply saddle soap to a sponge and rub it firmly into the leather in a circular motion to create a lather. Saddle soap both cleans and conditions leather. Wipe off the lather with a damp sponge before it dries, then wipe the boots down with a clean dry cloth. Let them air dry.
Choose a leather conditioner in the closest possible color to the boots, or select a transparent variety. If desired, create a homemade mixture by combining 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1 teaspoon of lemon oil, or 1 teaspoon of vinegar with 1/2 cup of linseed oil.
Apply a small amount of the conditioner to a clean cloth and work it deeply into the leather, just like shoe polish.
Wipe away the excess conditioner with another clean cloth. Let the boots air dry completely before wearing.
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- Apply leather conditioner to scuffed or color faded boots, as these signs indicate drying.
- Too much conditioner weakens leather and leaves a sticky residue.
- Conditioning leather without an initial cleaning will simply trap the dirt under a protective seal.
- Consult the boot manufacturer's care instructions before applying any product.
- Certain conditioners should not be used on some leathers.
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