How To Clean Leather Boots & Condition Suede? [Guidance and Recommendations]

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How To Clean Leather Boots

The most popular concern among boot wearers is “How to clean leather boots?”. Having a pair of boots will bring you a lot of playful and exciting experiences. This specific material provides your feet with protection from hazardous and dirty conditions at work.

That’s the reason why your boots deserve an effective clean inside out and good care afterward. While there are many techniques, we would go into detail the most effective and common ones, including its features and things to notice. This way, you can opt for the most suitable solution for your leather boots to get the best result.

Here’s the most important part of this article:

How To Clean Outside Leather Hunting Boots?

Remove the laces

Remove the lace of leather boots

The first thing to do before getting your hands on cleaning is to remove the laces from your boots. This makes it easier for you to clean and conditions the nooks as well as crevices of the shoes.

Then wash the laces to rinse off dirt and grime. Once they are clean, set them aside to avoid getting lost or tangled. If your shoes come with zippers, you should open the zippers and clean the leather behind them too.

Clean loose dirt and debris

Clean loose dirt and debris

To prevent the leather from getting scratched, gently clean the boot’s feather surface with a soft-bristled brush or a soft cloth. This helps to remove debris, dirt, and stains from the shoes.

Apply soap

Apply soap

Most leather cleaners have soap forms such as saddle soap. To clean with this cleaner, use a damp cloth and rub it over the soap. Then rub the sides of the cloth together to create a light lather.

One thing you need to remember is lifting the tongues or flaps to approach the little crevices, ensuring all the remaining grime is removed.

Pay extra stress on areas that need more scrubbing. Keep in mind that you just have to do this for stubborn stains only. Also, wearing plastic gloves is essential if your skin is sensitive. This way, you can prevent the lather from affecting your hands.

Wipe off soap

Wipe off soap

After rubbing your boots with soap, use another clean, damp cloth or soft-bristled brush to wipe off the soap. Move across the leather surface of your shoes in circular motions.

Condition leather

Condition leather

Conditioning leather is an important step that keeps your boots from being dried out and adding shine. You can either get a commercial conditioner or DIY by creating a mixture of vinegar and linseed oil with a portion of 1:2 respectively.

As soon as you’ve finished cleaning your shoes, put some liquid conditioner on a dry cloth. Then rub the conditioner onto the leather surface until it’s shiny. The process may take around 15 minutes.

In addition, this step is not suitable for suede shoes. This is because they can’t handle normal leather cleaners, including conditioners. You can resolve this problem by using a protector spray instead, which is designed for suede footwear.



Leave your boots in the open air to get dried. Don’t put them in direct sun or near the heater as this will result in fading or cracking leather.


How to remove stains from leather?

Stains are a common issue that happens to leather boots as they are mostly used in conditions full of dirt, dust, and even grime. While there are many types of stains, we would recommend you some useful ways to remove some popular stains from leather:

Grease or Oil

Baking soda is famous for its cleaning functions, which is applied for household items, clothes, and even the human body. And leather boots are not an exception, especially for stains in the form of grease or oil.

To do this, first, you should sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda onto the stain. Then rub it gently with a damp, clean cloth, and leave it for a few hours. The soda, as well as starch, are useful for absorbing the oil. Finally, using a dry, soft cloth to wipe off the powder.


To remove ink, what you need to do is to dip a swab in the nail polish remover or rub alcohol and blot the spot.

And keep in mind this:

Rubbing is not allowed as it causes the ink to spread. Be patient and blot gently till the stain is faded and gone. Finish by wiping with a damp cloth and drying with a dry on.


Scuffs on leather boots come in different types. Fortunately, most of them are easy to clean by using household items and some specialty cleansers.

So, how can we do it?

Grab the toothpaste and squirt a dab on the scuffed spot. Leave it for a few minutes and rub it with a towel. This technique is perfect for stubborn scuffs due to the high abrasiveness of toothpaste.

For easier scuffs, you can use less abrasive methods such as a shoe brush, pencil eraser or magic eraser to protect your boots from damage.

Other stains

A combination of lemon juice and tartar would be amazing for other types of stain. Put that mixture into a paste and then apply it to the stained spot.  Let it sit for half an hour and remove it with a cloth.

Now, let’s move to the second consideration:

How To Clean Inside Leather Hunting Boots?

Soap and water

Soap and water

It may surprise you that leather boots can be cleaned with soap and water without causing any harm as long as they are done in the right way. Before using this method to clean inside the leather hunting boots, you should take into account some important information below:

Both certain and laundry detergents are not recommended for leather as they affect the essential oil in the leather that needs replenishing. Also, using these detergents can damage the color of some types of leather.

In addition, neither a washing machine nor a laundry machine is good for your boots as they can be mixed and crashed with each other as well as the machine itself. Instead, it’s better to wash your boots by hand in a bucket to avoid scuff and agitate stain spots on to the leather surface.

More importantly, do not use hot water. While hot water is known for fostering the removal of dirt and bacteria, it can also cause adhesives in the boots, leading to over-drying issues of the surface and shrinkage.

Another consideration is the soap you will use. Mild soap such as castile soap, saddle soap, or even facial cleansers is helpful when you need to wash the leather gently. Additionally, saltwater is a good choice for boat shoes but can result in salt stains as it dries.

What we like most is acne wash that not only gets rid of the oil from the leather but also harbors the helpful bacteria that are the reason for foot smell.

Drying the shoes

Drying the shoes

After washing your boots with soap and water, you need to dry them in the open air. Using a hairdryer or fan heater is not recommended. Instead, a room fan is ideal and harmless, which will make the drying faster.

Also, moisturizing the leather is an essential step to keep your boots in good condition and get a shiny look. To do this, you can use either a leather conditioning cream or body moisturizer. For leathers which contain mink oil, moisturizing may bring back the waxy look of your boots.

One thing you should consider is that vegetable oil like coconut oil is not suitable for your shoes as it can become rancid after several uses. Also, it is an ideal food source for the growth of bacteria, causing a lot of problems in the first place.

Fighting bacteria between washes

Fighting bacteria between washes

A spray-on disinfectant is a great process to do between washes as it will get rid of most fungi and bacteria, and minimize foot odor issue. However, this may also leave a non-leathery smell that is not preferable by most people.

While vinegar helps to kill bacteria and fungus, it has an unpleasant smell to most users. In addition, baking soda absorbs odor but it can’t remove the bacteria which emits odor later. Be careful if you have black cloths as any white powder would be a disaster anyway.

Another way that you can try to fight against the bacteria is by using hand sanitizer. It’s easy to use for the insides of your boots and known for killing the odor. However, overusing may result in insoles, making the shoes unglued as the main ingredient contains ethyl alcohol. So you should highly focus when applying this method during washes!

How To Clean Inside Suede Hunting Boots?

Moist, soapy towel

First off, use the moist, soapy towel to wash the loose debris inside the boots as much as possible. If your shoes come with a lining, it could be challenging to do. However, this is an important step before moving to the next one.

A Nubuck Cleaning Kit

A Nubuck Cleaning Kit

Then, read the instructions for your kit carefully and use the sponge to put the Nubuck Cleanser into your boots. You should ensure the cleanser gets through the lining of your shoes so that you won’t leave any crevices behind.

Dry cloth

After the cleaning process, wipe off the liquid with a dry cloth and let the boots sit until they dry completely. The last step to clean inside suede hunting boots is freshening up any areas of exposed suede using a Nubuck cloth. It can work on light spots with no requirement of an extended time to get dried.

How To Clean Leather Hunting Boots With Household Items?

Baking soda

Baking soda

Again, baking soda is one of the most ideal choices when it comes to cleaning leather hunting boots. To do this, you just have to sprinkle it onto stained and dirty areas of your shoes. After that, dip a cloth into the water to make it wet. Use it to rub the surface where you sprinkled the soda in circular motions.

Remember that you shouldn’t rub too hard as it can damage the leather material. The final thing to do is leave it to sit overnight. In this way, the soda can have enough time to absorb grease, or stain, therefore bringing the boots a thorough cleaning experience.

Saddle soap

Saddle soap

Besides baking soda, saddle soap is also a popular household item considered as an effective cleaning agent. This is especially useful when your boots come with a lot of soil.

Saddle soap can be used after every shift. One important you need to keep in mind is that the accumulated dirt should only be wiped with a nylon brush or a damp cloth. This helps to minimize the effects and damages on the leather surface.

As being said, allowing the boots dry naturally after cleaning is highly recommended. Additionally, if you plan to clean your boots with the aid of the washing machine, consider using a mild shampoo as an alternative. It has the same functions as soap and can be used for washing hands as well.

Hair conditioner

Hair conditioner

Hair conditioner is another powerful cleaning agent that you can use for your leather boots. Same as how it benefits your hair, the condition will also do a wonderful job when treating your boots.

This is because it includes great wax properties that provide you with great assistance, giving your boots a quick clean. More important, hair conditioner is beneficial for retaining the condition of the leather surface for a long time.

Fortunately, using an expensive conditioner is not necessary. Just expensive ones can do your boots wonders. That’s why it’s widely considered as a cost-effective method in making your boots shiny and durable.

Talcum powder

Our top pick for removing grease from your shoes is talcum powder. It’s not only an affordable but also convenient cleaning agent. All you need to do with this powder is pouring some onto the greased areas, leaving it for a least an hour, and then wiping off with a cloth. Easy, right?

One feature that we like with this technique is its safety to your boots as well as your health thanks to the all-natural ingredients. Talcum powder is definitely a powerful natural cleaning agent that works effectively in dealing with grease.

Dish soap

Dish soap may sound strange to you, but it’s a possible solution that you can consider to treat your boots. Just one thing you need to be careful with biogenic is that the material is not compatible with water.

Before applying the soap, you have to take the laces out to make it easier to clean. Then rub the soap directly on the leather surface gently with the aid of a towel or cloth. After that, wash the remaining areas with water to remove residues and prevent them from coming inside the boots.

Can you wash leather boots?

Obviously yes. You can clean either the outsides or insides of your leather boots as long as you follow the instructions carefully. There are many techniques that range from household items to specific soap that you can apply.

Most of them help to remove dirt, bacteria, and killing the fungus that causes foot odor. However, if not used in the right way, they may result in some counter effects, including damaging the leather surface and fading its color.

Can you clean leather boots with soap and water?

The combination of soap and water is a recommended solution when it comes to cleaning the insides areas of leather boots. As long as you wash and dry them in the right way, it will not cause any harm.

Also, you need to take into account some important factors to avoid any unexpected issues to your boots. Those factors include detergents, the way you wash your boots, soap, and even water. Wisely taking advantage of these factors following the directions will bring your boots an effective clean, making it shiny and durable.

What is the best leather boot cleaner?

Regarding the household items that play as cleaning agents for leather boots, baking soda is our all-time favorite.

Not to mention how amazing it is for removing dirt from your shoes, baking soda is also known for fighting against bacteria between washes. The soda absorbs odor that is the main cause of bacteria.

Besides great features, there are still some setbacks with this method. The most significant one is its effect on the leather color, making it fade over time.

Speaking of commercial boots cleaners, our top pick is ShoeAnew Cleaner Kit. This is because the cleanser can remove the bacteria inside your boots without damaging the leather. Additionally, it can be used for any type of leather, including the hard, soft, split, suede as well as top-grain Nubuck. What more can you ask for?

Final Thoughts

Other than going through several ways to clean the insides and outsides of the leather boots as well as suede boots, this article also provides you some with recommended household items as effective cleaning agents for your shoes, making the clean much easier.

Also, we have a FAQ section with some common questions that you may ask. If you have any further considerations about this topic, don’t hesitate to leave your comments below. We will be in touch soon!

To ensure your leather boots have great condition, shiny look, and overall durability, do correctly as instructed and wisely apply these techniques as we mentioned in this “How to clean leather boots” article.

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