Blair, Murdoch's Boot Specialist in Bozeman, takes us step by step to condition dried leather boots.
Dry air is hard on your leather boots. The best way to prolong the life of your favorite leather boots is to properly hydrate them with a natural boot oil or leather cream. Leather is like our skin; the pores need to breathe. Natural ingredients in oils and creams – not synthetic silicone – keep leather flexible and supple and may even help them break-in faster.
How to Apply Leather Conditioner
4 Steps to Perfectly Maintained Leather Boots:
- Clean: Start by cleaning your boots. Use a scrub brush to remove the heavier materials, then use a damp cloth for a finer finish. Let your boot dry before applying anything.
- Restore: Next, you’ll restore moisture into the leather. Decide whether you want to use an oil or cream conditioner. This comes down to personal preference, but my advice is to default to a cream conditioner with natural ingredients. After picking your desired product, apply a thin layer to the fore foot of your boot. It could darken the leather, so you may want to pick a spot to test your product first. Again, I like a boot cream because it won’t darken the leather as much as an oil will. Start at the toe. Using circular motions, apply the product evenly, working your way to the heel.
- Double Check: If it’s a heavy work boot or really dried-out leather, more than one coat may be necessary.
- Dry: Let additional product soak in and dry completely. If you have excess cream or oil, wipe with a clean rag. This will also buff the boots, providing a touch of shine.
A good, natural boot cream will repel water, chemicals, manure acid, salt and dust. It will also resist cracking, scuffing, dry rot, mold and mildew. If you seal the leather so it can’t breathe, it is prone to hold in sweat, body acids and salt. Soon, your boots will deteriorate from the inside out.
When it comes to waterproof membranes, silicone or petroleum products are not your friend if you want your boots to last. They’ll keep your feet dry in the short-term, but your boots won’t last as long. A natural cream that contains ingredients like beeswax is best. This will allow the leather to breathe properly while not harming your boots’ waterproof membrane.