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How Do I Keep My Cowboy Boots from Cracking? Detailed Instructions

How Do I Keep My Cowboy Boots from Cracking? Detailed Instructions

Leather and suede, if not properly maintained, are susceptible to cracking and breaking, which is particularly concerning since these materials form the core components of cowboy boots.

In fact, if cowboy boots aren’t crafted from genuine leather, they lose their authentic essence. Therefore, it becomes crucial to learn the correct methods of protecting and preserving your beloved cowboy boots.

We’re here to guide you on this fascinating and essential topic that extends beyond just cowboy boots.

The techniques we’ll share can be applied to other cherished leather possessions in your household, such as bags and sofas. So, let’s dive in and get started on this insightful journey!

1. Keep cowboy boots clean

The first step is to keep cowboy boots clean, so they will stay in a good quality state over the long term.

Cowboy boots that have been in a dirty or moldy condition for too long can cause them to crack.

To clean leather cowboy boots, you need a horsehair brush with a leather cleaner, some warm water, and a dry rag.

Leather care kit from Tecovas

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

  1. Spray a thin layer of warm water on the leather surface, and use a horsehair brush to pre-clean the cowboy boots (rub directly on the surface)
  2. Apply the leather cleaner on horsehair brush or surface leather cowboy boots
  3. Scrub the cowboy boot surface thoroughly with a horsehair brush, and pay close attention to seams and welt areas.
  4. Use a dry rag to wipe residue and excess leather cleaner. It’s done!

Cleaning suede cowboy boots requires a suede brush, eraser, a little warm water, and suede cleaner.

Tecovas suede cleaner, brush and eraser

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned

  1. First, use the suede brush to clean suede cowboy boots (you can coat a thin layer of warm water). Scrub the suede surface of suede for precleaning.
  2. Use an eraser to continue cleaning cowboy boots. The eraser works to remove colored stains (stains from mud, and soil) on suede boots.
  3. Apply suede cleaner to the surface of suede cowboy boots, then continue to use a suede brush and eraser to scrub that surface, pay attention to scrub thoroughly at stitching and welt.
  4. Rub until you’ve seen suede cowboy boots are completely clean. And that’s it!

2. Condition cowboy boots

condition leather cowboy boots with wax, brush and cloth

I think this is the most important step to prevent cowboy boots from cracking, the conditioning step is to keep your boots moisturized.

If cowboy boots are too dry (especially the lizard boots), they will quickly deteriorate and in the worst case, get cracked.

You should condition cowboy boots periodically. If you use cowboy boots regularly, condition them every 2 to 3 months.

But if you don’t use them regularly, you still need to condition them at least every 6 months so that they can retain good moisture.

For lizard cowboy boots, the interval time may be shorter.

A pair of black lizard boots

There are many conditioners on the market for leather and suede, do your research and choose a suitable type for your boots.

Do you know how to properly condition cowboy boots? Here is the process!

  1. Clean cowboy boots (as described above)
  2. Spray the leather conditioner directly onto the surface of the cowboy boots or on a brush (horsehair brush or suede brush).
  3. Use a brush to scrub the surface of the cowboy boots evenly, this ensures the conditioner penetrates evenly and deeply into the cowboy boots. Done!

Conditioners will restore the moisture and color of cowboy boots, keep them last longer, and newer and ensure no cracks!

3. Keep cowboy boots in shape

Keeping cowboy boots in shape is the next factor to prevent cracking. Don’t let your boots fold and break, keep them straight, that’s the point!

There are many ways to hold cowboy boots in shape to avoid cracking, which includes using a boot stand, boot rack, boot trees, or boot shapers.

Womens boot tree from Tecovas

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

These methods will retain cowboy boots in top shape at all times: straight and solid form.

We have an article that thoroughly explains how to keep in shape cowboy boots here!

4. Keep cowboy boots dry

You must keep “suitable” moisture for cowboy boots, not keep them wet. It is no exaggeration to say that water is the number 1 enemy of leather cowboy boots.

When exposed to a lot of water, the natural waxes and oils of the leather boots will be washed away. That causes cowboy boots to crack.

Make sure to store your cowboy boots in a dry, well-ventilated place, so they will retain the correct moisture level, not getting wet or attacked by water.

I usually use boot trees or boot shapers with good moisture absorption.

As a cowboy boot fanatic, I also have a boot dryer to dry multiple pairs of cowboy boots at the same time during winter or the rainy season.

Boot dryer

Check out the methods of drying cowboy boots here!

5. Polish cowboy boots

Polishing cowboy boots may not be as effective as conditioning them, but buffing cowboy boots can help cover small cracking marks.

Due to the ruthlessness of time, cowboy boots appear with many tiny cracks, which affects their longevity and durability. Use polish to conceal those flaws and seal cracking marks.

In addition, leather polish also creates a good protective layer on the boot surface. This minimizes water damage or outside heat that causes the boots to crack.

All you need to do is prepare the horsehair brush and polish. And make sure the cowboy boots are clean and have been conditioned.

Apply polish to the brush and then polish the surface of the cowboy boots with a circular motion.

man is polishing a cowboy boot

Buff the surface of the cowboy boots so that the polish can spread evenly and penetrate better.

Covered with 2 to 3 layers of polish, your cowboy boots will hide the cracking marks and come back to life.

In addition, the polish protects the cowboy boots from water, dirt and time attack! But remember, you can only polish cowboy boots made of smooth leather, not suede boots.

6. Waterproofing cowboy boots

Keep cowboy boots dry, but what if it suddenly rains while you are wearing them?

To help cowboy boots from getting wet (which is the main cause of cracking), you should know some methods of waterproofing cowboy boots.

To do that, you can use a polish, conditioner, mink oil, waterproof liquid, or leather protector. You can read more details here!

7. Break in new cowboy boots

Many people, after receiving the cowboy boots, rush to use them for heavy jobs and skip the break-in process. This is not a good habit, as cowboy boots don’t have enough time to adjust themselves to fit your feet, and this could result in cracking immediately.

Note that new cowboy boots won’t have the best softness, stretch, and fit, so you need to wear them for 2 to 3 weeks.

glossy toe box of new cowboy boots

After that wear-in period, cowboy boots can completely fit your feet with enough softness and elasticity, they will be more durable, stronger and not crack even if hard use.

2 to 3 weeks are too long? We have prepared for you some methods to help break in cowboy boots in just 1 week here!

8. Use cowboy boots for the right purposes

There are many cowboy boots that are preferred for fashion rather than function. For example, cowboy boots with high heels over 3 inches are difficult to follow you to the farm, they may break the heel and crack easily.

When you work on the ranch or farm, low-heeled cowboy boots are ideal choices (about 1 inch to 1.5 inches). High-heeled cowboy boots tend to be designed for function rather than fashion.

A woman wears jeans with cowboy boots on the ranch

You can find western work boots, roper, stockman boots, etc. These cowboy boots have high durability due to their solid structure, they will be difficult to crack when used for heavy-duty jobs.

In short, choose the right cowboy boots for the right job!

9. Limit the use of household items to take care of cowboy boots

There are many methods of using household items to care for cowboy boots such as coconut oil, vaseline, etc. But we don’t really appreciate these methods in reality.


Use specialized products to care for leather, that will keep the cowboy boots last longer, keep the original color and of course, avoid cracking.

Before you leave

To ensure your cowboy boots remain crack-free, here are 9 essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep them Clean: Regularly clean your cowboy boots to remove dirt and grime. This simple practice helps maintain their overall condition.
  2. Moisturize with Care: Keep your boots properly moisturized using a quality leather conditioner. This helps prevent the leather from drying out and cracking.
  3. Polish for Protection: Give your cowboy boots a regular polish to not only enhance their appearance but also provide an additional layer of protection against external heat and elements.
  4. Stay Dry: It’s crucial to keep your boots dry and avoid excessive moisture. Dampness can lead to damage and cracking, so be mindful of wet conditions.
  5. Store Properly: When not in use, store your cowboy boots in a cool and dry place. It’s best to keep them upright to maintain their shape and prevent unnecessary pressure or distortion.
  6. Waterproof for Weather: Consider waterproofing your cowboy boots, especially during rainy or winter seasons. This protective measure safeguards them from moisture and extends their longevity.
  7. Break them in: Before putting your new cowboy boots through heavy use, take the time to break them in gradually. This allows the leather to adjust and reduces the risk of cracks forming.
  8. Choose Wisely: Ensure you’re wearing the right pair of cowboy boots for the specific job or activity. Different boots are designed for different purposes, so select accordingly to minimize wear and tear.
  9. Use Specialized Products: Opt for specialized products specifically designed for cowboy boot care. Avoid using household items that may not be suitable and could potentially damage the leather.

And lastly, don’t forget to express your gratitude. Thank you, and good luck in keeping your cowboy boots crack-free for many adventures to come!