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Can Cowboy Boots Dry Rot? And How To Prevent It

Can Cowboy Boots Dry Rot? And How To Prevent It

Lately, when I pull out my cowboy boots from the box, it looks horrible! Honestly, I don’t remember when was the last time I wore them. I even forget how their hay day looks.

My boots now, of course, no longer shine. They turn darker and even show powder when I try to scratch them. You guess it right, they dry rot now! I think it’s time to say goodbye to my longtime friends. It’s such a pity…

How about your cowboy boots? They are still fine now? I hope you won’t repeat my mistakes.

To avoid this, I will share some tips for you to recognize and prevent the dry-rotting problem from the beginning.

Will cowboy boots dry rot with time? Why and how to handle it?

Yes, cowboy boots can dry rot.

Cowboy boots naturally have oils with adequate moisture. That’s why they are soft, flexible and shiny.

When you use them for a long time, or don’t give them proper care, they may dry out and lose their oil. Lack of oil and moisture makes the leather shrink and harden.

dry rot cowboy boots appear with cracks and fade color

You can recognize this problem immediately just by looking and touching the leather. It gets darker and dull with some cracks. You can feel it brittle and not pliable. In the worst case, scratching the leather results in powder all over the surface. How bad is it?

The sad news is, you can’t resolve this problem. Yes, no way to restore your boots once they dry rot. But if it just happens in a small area, you can stop it from spreading over entire cowboy boots.

I know you’re regretful now, let’s think back to what you did wrong?

What are the causes of dry rotting in cowboy boots?

Here are the three common cases that lead to dry rotting problem in cowboy boots:

  • Forget the existence of cowboy boots

When was the last time you put on your cowboy boots? Did you just place them too long in one place and never pull them out?

It’s so careless of you (and me neither)! It’s maybe because you have too many pairs of cowboy boots and just forget them. Or you carefully hide them too long and never remember them anymore.

three pairs of dry rot cowboy boots

Your cowboy boots over time can build up moisture, or dry out, depending on the weather and storing conditions. And once you remember their existence, they can get moldy, dry, cracked or worse, dry rot!

  • Store cowboy boots improperly

Where did you store cowboy boots? Is it on the shelf? Or the plastic box? Does that place have enough ventilation? Is that place way too dry? Did you pay attention to the temperature there?

dry rot cowboy boots that are not stored properly

As I said in many previous articles, cowboy boots need to have a certain amount of humidity in the air to retain the leather quality. If not, chances are cowboy boots lose moisture, get dried and cracked, thus facilitating the dry rotting process.

  • Don’t condition cowboy boots often

Before putting cowboy boots in the closet, have you conditioned them? What is the last time you condition your boots?

Important as it is, some may forget to condition their dear boots. Conditioner is just a wonderful companion in any preserving occasion. They cover the boot surface with a protective film and restore moisture to leather.

With no conditioner applied, your cowboy boots are more prone to dry and crack, and do not have enough moisture to nurture the leather. Then, the boots turn drier, darker and weaker, and dry rot eventually.

How to prevent cowboy boots from drying rot?

As there is no way to cure dry rot, it’s better to prevent it from the start. Here are some common ways to help you:

Always keep cowboy boots clean

You can totally destroy your cowboy boots by leaving them in the corner after a long day of working or using them for a trip without wiping the dirt or mud out of them.

Cleaning wide moldy spots on leather cowboy boots

Use a clean cloth to get rid of any dust, dirt or mud sticking on the surface. Also, pay attention to the stitches! Clean them too.

After a while of using them, don’t forget to clean the inside of cowboy boots too! This is essential to have a clean and chase away the awful smell of sweat and moisture buildup in the lining.

Hygiene is crucial for a healthy pair of boots. It also helps you wear them comfortably and don’t forget their existence ;).

Oil cowboy boots

You can moisturize the leather of cowboy boots with oils. This is the best method to give essential moisture to cowboy boots.

oiling cowboy boots

Specifically, you should oil cowhide cowboy boots twice a year, which means every 6 months. For exotic leather, you will have a specific different frequency of oiling. We have a very thorough article on how often you should oil cowboy boots here.

Condition cowboy boots before storing

Conditioning is always the ultimate step in maintaining the quality of cowboy boots. It helps store moisture and protect the boot surface.

A bag of Tecovas leather cleaner and leather conditioner with a cloth

Leather Cleaner and Conditioner | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

If you have lizard boots, they require special conditioning. You can find the detailed process here.

In this process, don’t forget to condition the inside of cowboy boots too! It’s essential to give them comprehensive care.

Use boot trees and boot shapers to absorb moisture 

This is the perfect tool for storing any footwear including cowboy boots.

Mens boot tree from Tecovas

Men’s Boot Insert | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

Boot trees or boot shapers absorb moisture in your boots while retaining adequate humidity and keeping them away from mold, bacteria and any fungus. They also help in deodorizing cowboy boots.

Other household ways you can use to absorb moisture in your cowboy boots are to stuff them with a desiccant pack, or newspaper, or spray powder in their lining.

Store cowboy boots in a cool and ventilated place

You should avoid using plastic boxes, or at least don’t store cowboy boots too long there. Sometimes, remember to pull them out and let them have some fresh air. Cowboy boots and their leather need to breathe and have enough ventilation.

Choose a place with adequate humidity and ventilation, neither too hot or dry. That is the best condition to store cowboy boots. Actually, we have a very detailed article regarding this matter here.

Don’t forget to wear cowboy boots often

Nothing can destroy one as being forgotten. Your cowboy boots will be buried under a pile of dust, stay idle and make friends with mold and fungus. How horrible it is!

Let your cowboy boots perform the role of protecting your legs! Cowboy boots, just like watches, need to be on your body to work well.

woman legs wearing roper boots

If you can’t wear them outside, you should wear them to go around the house or your garden.

Your cowboy boots with quality leather can last for a very long time, it is regret if you do not preserve them well and have them end their life just a few years after use.

The Closure

Cowboy boots are a longtime friend for you. They can last a decade due to their expensive material and sophisticated craftsmanship. Don’t let them turn bad, I’m sure you don’t want it!

Remember, there is no way to cure dry rot other than throwing them away and buying new ones. But prevention is better than cure, always care for your cowboy boots the right way, and you can live happily ever after with them.