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Can You Use Shoe Polish on Cowboy Boots? (For Regular and Exotic Boots)

Can You Use Shoe Polish on Cowboy Boots? (For Regular and Exotic Boots)

Shoe polish can be applied to most cowboy boots. The reason is that most of them are made from cowhide, you can easily polish this material and find products to polish them in the market.

Polishing cowboy boots is always good, as it can restore their attractive color, moisturize, and protect them from water, dirt and more.

Cowhide isn’t the only material in the cowboy boots world! The rise of exotic leather has made cowboy boots more diverse than ever.

That’s where the problem begins, not all cowboy boots can be polished. Some exotic leathers don’t like to have this shine.

What kind of leather are those? What should I keep in mind when using shoe leather for cowboy boots?

Let me explain it to you in today’s post!

Is Shoe Polish A Good Idea For Cowboy Boots?

According to an overview article on how to care for exotic cowboy boots, depending on different types of leather, cowboy boots should be cared for in different ways.

Those differences can come from how often you should condition them, how you should take care of them, etc… Also, which leather should be polished and which not?

In addition, a few cowboy boots with too many stitches can also cause you a lot of trouble in the polishing process.

Well, so what should you do?

Cowboy boots with lots of stitching

In fact, you can still use shoe polish on cowboy boots with lots of stitching. You just need to know one of two things, wrap the stitches, or choose to clean them (or restore the color) after polishing.

Basically, you should use painter tape to cover up the stitches throughout cowboy boots, then apply polish as usual. When you’re done, just peel the tape off. I have a very detailed tutorial here.

Or if you accidentally stain stitches with polish, you can use colored pencils to restore the color. Spending your time painting each line one by one. You can find more details here!

Cowboy boots with many stitching

Cowboy boots with different materials

Most cowboy boots are made from cowhide, so you can polish them all if you want.

But as mentioned above, you need to be very careful if you want to polish exotic boots. Some leathers such as stingray or elephant skin don’t like to be polished at all due to some of their inherent properties.

For some types of leather such as ostrich, lizard, goat, elephant, or shark, sometimes you just need to condition them. Conditioners are good enough to make sure the color of these leathers stays strong.

I made a very detailed table for you below, please take a look!

Types of cowboy boot leatherCan you use shoe polish on them?Notes
  • Just do it!
  • A thin coat is okay
SnakeskinMostly yes
  • Go for natural colors, stay away from artificial ones
  • No need to polish rattlesnake leather
  • A thin coat is okay. This leather is already shining and smooth
  • Do as usual
  • You should focus on the space between scales, too. Cream or wax will be better
  • It already shines
  • Polish to prevent creases
  • Polish will make it lost unique natural beauty
SharkNot necessary
  • Polish will hide their amazing textures, wrinkles and cracks
  • Don’t use wax to polish

It can be said that almost all cowboy boots can be polished with shoe polish. However, shark, stingray, rattlesnake, and elephant leathers should not be polished. The main reason is that polishing can obscure the natural beauty of their colors and textures.

In addition, when polishing, the color of shoe polish is also very important. Certain types of leather like snakeskin should be polished with a natural color rather than an artificial one.

Some leathers like ostrich or goat leather may only need transparent shoe polish, mainly to make their original color richer since their original textures are already nice.

Here are some notes for you.

  • Cowhide boots

There is no need to worry about polishing cowhide boots with shoe polish. It does no harm to these boots.

Just remember not to use cheap shoe polish products.

  • Snakeskin boots – python and rattlesnake

men wear yellow snake cowboy boots

The first is snakeskin, if cowboy boots are made from python, you can feel free to polish them but remember to only use natural colors and stay away from artificial colors.

That will enhance the natural and unique beauty of snakeskin boots.

However, if your cowboy boots are made from rattlesnake leather then you should not polish them. This leather is inherently self-shining and is able to keep the original look very well. Polishing them is unnecessary!

  • Ostrich boots

As for ostrich boots, you don’t need to polish them too much either. The color, natural creases, and bumpy surface of ostrich leather create their flawless look.

A thin coat of polish enhances their finish without sacrificing their original beauty.

Man wear The Duke Boots

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | The Duke Boots

  • Caiman boots

The thing to keep in mind when polishing caiman boots – very expensive boots – is that you will have a hard time polishing the space between the scales.

Using scream and wax will allow you to polish this area easier. These 2 products can penetrate into the nooks and crannies of boots pretty well.

The Dillon caiman belly boots from Tecovas

The Dillon cowboy boots from Tecovas | #CommissionEarned | Click the image for more info

  • Stingray boots

This type of boot natively shines because its surface is like a collection of thousands of different black pearls. So polishing these boots can make them lose that interesting look.

Instead, you should pay more attention to conditioning them than polish.

  • Lizard boots

You may not need to polish lizard boots too often because their surface is already very smooth and shiny.

Use a polish that makes them waterproof during the rainy season. Or a dust-proof polish is also a good choice.

The Nolan Cowboy Boots

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | The Nolan Boots

  • Goat boots

This leather is also very comfortable, you can take care of them like cowhide. Polishing them with shoe polish is a perfect choice.

However, considering color, I like to use neutral polish to only darken goat leather. Because its natural color, texture, and wrinkles are already wonderful.

The Cartwright goat boots from Tecovas

  • Kangaroo boots

Kangaroo leather is an extremely durable leather but very easy to wrinkle. Therefore, shoe polish is necessary to limit or hide wrinkles.

  • Elephant boots

Elephant leather is very rare and bootmakers can only make boots from the skins of elephants that have died naturally.

The natural texture of elephant leather is so unique that you shouldn’t hide it under shoe polish.

This leather is very durable, dry, and rough, so it still has a great wild look without shoe polish.

  • Shark boots

Shark leather is extremely water-resistant, so shark cowboy boots are often used as work boots. Therefore, they do not need shoe polish to enhance that ability.

In addition, sharkskin is not like wax. The appearance of shark leather with cracks and wrinkles is also very interesting and attractive. Polishing them doesn’t seem really necessary.

A man wears The Quintin cowboy boots

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | The Quintin Boots


In summary, most cowboy boots can be polished with shoe polish.

But as mentioned above, there are still some types of leather that should not be polished as this will obscure the original beauty and harm them. These include rattlesnake, stingray, shark, and elephant leather.

Besides, you should also pay attention when polishing cowboy boots with many stitches. And learn how to cover the stitches before polishing or how to clean them after the process.

The color of the shoe polish is also very important, it should be in sync with the original color of the leather. Otherwise, choose colorless polish, it will make your boots darker but will look bolder and more attractive.

Good luck!