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A Complete Guide to Cleaning Leather Cowboy Boots

A Complete Guide to Cleaning Leather Cowboy Boots

During my years of wearing leather cowboy boots, I’ve realized that cleaning cowboy boots is actually not as simple as you think.

There are quite a few invisible factors that cause cowboy boots to lose durability over time, including an inappropriate way to clean cowboy boots.

Do you think that just diligently using the horsehair brush and the leather cleaner is enough? No no, it’s not!

Today’s article will bring you the most detailed guide on how you should clean cowboy boots while pointing out the mistakes that many people often make.

Let’s check it out!

Key Takeaways

  • Cowboy boots need to be cleaned in the right way. You need to know that regular cleaning requires different products than deep cleaning.
  • Applying products of regular cleaning to deep cleaning and vice versa will not bring about the expected effect but cause some side effects.
  • After each deep clean, you need to moisturize cowboy boots afterward as leather cleaners tend to sweep away the natural oils and waxes of the boots.
  • You should use specialized tools to clean cowboy boots so as not to cause damage to the boots.

2 important steps to clean leather cowboy boots

One of the things that people often think is that as long as they regularly use leather cleaner to clean cowboy boots, the boots will stay in good condition.

However, the reality shows that when you abuse leather cleaner on leather cowboy boots, it will sweep away their natural oils and waxes, leaving the boots dry and cracked.

To avoid that, you should clearly distinguish between regular cleaning and deep cleaning. You can regularly clean cowboy boots to keep them away from dirt. Whereas deep cleaning can be done periodically (after a longer interval) for a comprehensive protection.

If it’s a regular clean, it is recommended to use cleaners made up of detergents and oils. These properties will restore the lost oils of cowboy boots during cleaning.

At the same time, the regular cleaners should also have light soap (not too heavy). That’s why saddle soap is a great choice  leather cleaner.

saddle soap and horsehair brush

Saddle soap consists of mild soap that is safe to clean new and light stains on leather surfaces. Meanwhile, it also contains some oils and waxes such as mink oil, neatsfoot oil, beeswax, etc.

It seems enough for the theory. Let’s practice now! I will show you how to use saddle soap effectively below.

Regular clean

First, you should choose the popular saddle soaps used by many people. Some of the types that we (and cowboy boot fans) recommend are Bickmore and Fiebing.

apply saddle soap on cowboy boots with a horsehair brush

Other cleaning tools include a soft towel or horsehair brush (recommended, because they are soft and do not damage the leather surface).

Bickmore Saddle Soap Plus - 2.8oz - Leather Cleaner & Conditioner with Lanolin - Restorer, Moisturizer, and Protector
Fiebing's Saddle Soap 12oz - Yellow - Clean, Polish and Maintain Saddles, Shoes, Luggage, Handbags - Thoroughly Cleans & Restores Natural Preservative Leather Oils to Maintain Suppleness & Strength
3 Pieces Horsehair Shoes Polish Brushes Kit Leather Shoes Boots Care Clean Polish Daubers Applicators
Bickmore Saddle Soap Plus - 2.8oz - Leather Cleaner & Conditioner with Lanolin - Restorer, Moisturizer, and Protector
Fiebing's Saddle Soap 12oz - Yellow - Clean, Polish and Maintain Saddles, Shoes, Luggage, Handbags - Thoroughly Cleans & Restores Natural Preservative Leather Oils to Maintain Suppleness & Strength
3 Pieces Horsehair Shoes Polish Brushes Kit Leather Shoes Boots Care Clean Polish Daubers Applicators
Bickmore Saddle Soap Plus - 2.8oz - Leather Cleaner & Conditioner with Lanolin - Restorer, Moisturizer, and Protector
Bickmore Saddle Soap Plus - 2.8oz - Leather Cleaner & Conditioner with Lanolin - Restorer, Moisturizer, and Protector
Fiebing's Saddle Soap 12oz - Yellow - Clean, Polish and Maintain Saddles, Shoes, Luggage, Handbags - Thoroughly Cleans & Restores Natural Preservative Leather Oils to Maintain Suppleness & Strength
Fiebing's Saddle Soap 12oz - Yellow - Clean, Polish and Maintain Saddles, Shoes, Luggage, Handbags - Thoroughly Cleans & Restores Natural Preservative Leather Oils to Maintain Suppleness & Strength
3 Pieces Horsehair Shoes Polish Brushes Kit Leather Shoes Boots Care Clean Polish Daubers Applicators
3 Pieces Horsehair Shoes Polish Brushes Kit Leather Shoes Boots Care Clean Polish Daubers Applicators

Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This ensures that you can clean the boots pretty well and maintain their quality.

Step 1:

First, dampen a towel or brush to pre-clean your cowboy boots. This causes some of the larger stains to fall off, making it easier for the saddle soap to clean the entire surface. At the same time, saddle soap’s oils and waxes can penetrate and nourish the leather better.

To keep the boots moist, you should put a little warm water on the saddle soap to make it mushy to easily get a moderate amount into the brush. Or, you can moisten the brush or towel with warm water to take the saddle soap out.

Step 2:

Now, use a brush and saddle soap to create foam and scrub it on the surface of cowboy boots. Try to thoroughly scrub every nook and cranny of your cowboy boots.

Step 3:

Finally, rinse the brush with warm water, then squeeze the brush to keep them only damp. Then use the brush to clean all the residue.

You can completely repeat this process until the boots are clean. Don’t forget to dry the boots after that.

Deep clean

In fact, if regular cleans are effective, you should wait for a longer time to deep clean your boots. This is necessary because as explained above, cowboy boots will dry out more quickly if you continuously deep clean them with leather cleaner.

deep clean cowboy boots with leather cleaner

The leather cleaner I recommend is from Bickmore, a product that is very popular in the cowboy boot world.

If your boots are made of exotic leather, there are also Bickmore exotic cleaners to serve you.

Bickmore Exotic 8oz (2-Pack) - Specially Formulated Leather Spray Used to Clean Condition Polish and Protect Exotic Leathers & Reptile Skins
  • SPECIALLY FORMULATED FOR EXOTIC LEATHERS AND REPTILE SKIN: The special ingredients found in Bickmore...
  • CLEANS, SOFTENS, AND PRESERVES: Bickmore Exotic penetrates deep into the pores of exotic leather,...
  • CARES FOR ALL TYPES OF EXOTIC LEATHER: Alligator, Crocodile, Caiman, Snake, Lizard, Ostrich,...

Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I usually deep clean cowboy boots every 4 or 6 months. Here is the process:

You need to prepare two things, a leather cleaner and a horsehair brush (or soft towel).

Step 1:

Pre-clean cowboy boots with a damp cloth or brush, then scrub the surface thoroughly to help large stains like mud fall off and keep cowboy boots moist.

Step 2:

Now, it’s time to apply the leather cleaner. You can apply it directly to the surface of the boots, or to a damp brush. In general, leather cleaner is easy to apply because it is usually foamy.

Next, use the brush to thoroughly scrub every nook and cranny of cowboy boots in the areas such as Goodyear welts, pull straps and stitches.

Step 3:

Clean the brushes with water, keep them moist and wipe away any residue left on the surface of the boots.

Overall, the method is very similar to using saddle soap. You can repeat the process if needed, and don’t forget to dry the boots afterward.

The important thing to remember is to use a leather conditioner to moisturize your boots after each time you deep clean them because most leather cleaners do not have oils or waxes to keep the boots moisturized.

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  • POWERFUL LEATHER CONDITIONER: Leather Honey penetrates deep to protect new leather and rejuvenate...
  • RESTORE ALL TYPES/COLORS OF LEATHER: Soften leather furniture, moisturize leather car interiors &...
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Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can see more effective methods and products here!

Besides, keeping cowboy boots dry to avoid mold is also one of the important things in the boot care process. You can see more methods here.

Before you leave

Distinguishing and doing the right cleaning of cowboy boots will ensure they retain the necessary moisture and retain their best original properties.

Most cowboy boots aren’t cheap. If you care for them properly, they will stay with you for a longer time.

Cowboy boots are very durable, but not invincible, you can completely extend their life by 3 to 4 times (from 3 years to 15 years) if you maintain and care for them in the right way.

Good luck!r