There’s good reason leather has stood the test of time as one of the oldest (and best) materials for rugged workwear. Leather is naturally durable, and leather items can be expected to last much longer than cloth or other variants.
Another benefit of leather? With proper care, It can actually get better with time! In order to take full advantage of its longevity, it’s important to know how to restore old leather boots that have withstood the elements (like dirt) and rough wear over the course of several months or years.
Let’s look at 3 ways on how to restore leather boots:
Method #1: Deep Cleaning Old Boots
Cleaning leather boots is a prerequisite step for any restorative method you apply to your boots. But you’d be surprised at how much extra mileage you can get from cleaning. Specifically, you should begin all restoration projects by cleaning leather boots carefully with appropriate soap and a soft bristled brush or damp cloth.
According to a Masterclass on cleaning leather, you should:
Steer clear of DIY solutions, like vinegar or baking soda, which can be harmful to leather.Use saddle soap or another cleaning agent appropriate for the kind of leather you’re cleaning.Avoid over-application of water or cleaning agents, as these can cause other blemishes.
Depending on the extent of wear, a deep clean may be all you need for leather care, and you are on your way to a restored boot.
Method #2: Repairing Wear and Tear
In some cases, especially for worn-out work boots that have been through a lot of rough wear, a simple cleaning will not be enough to restore them to their former glory. For example, you may have issues like tears or separation (aka “talking” shoes), which can’t be cleaned away.
One of the most common repair issues plaguing older leather boots is damaged soles. Taking them to a cobbler for resoling is one option, just make sure they are competent in the specific type of work that you do. Professional shoe care help is ideal for these kinds of issues.
Method #3: Restoring Leather Surfaces
Finally, the last step of a leather boot restoration process is applying appropriate oils and creams to restore leather’s natural shine and other qualities. Regular wear and tear, and even cleaning, can dull the qualities that make leather so attractive to begin with.
To restore the life inherent to leather items, you’ll want to apply:
A leather oil, such as mink oil, to restore the natural shine.A treatment to restore supple softness, like leather conditioner.A wax-based waterproofing agent to protect against future damage.
No pair of boots will last forever. However, treatments like these will not only help to remove some of the damaging effects that regular wear will have on your boots. They’ll also extend the lifespan of your pair, prolonging restoration and eventual replacement.
When You Need to Replace, Instead of Restore
No matter how diligently you take care of your leather boots, and no matter how strong your restoration skills are, there comes a point where every pair needs to be replaced. The threshold is different for every pair and every wearer, but there are some telltale signs to look out for.
How often should you replace your work shoes? For safety leather boots you use for work, you’ll need to replace them as soon as any safety functionality stops working or is compromised. But for more casual leather boots or shoes, like the ones you wear out to dinner or around the yard, it can be less obvious when it’s time to retire them. A good rule of thumb may be, it's time for a new pair of boots when the restoration tactics no longer work or make sense.
Where to Find Your Boot Restoration or Replacement Needs
Whether you’re looking for leather care products to clean or protect your leather boots, or shopping for a new pair to replace your forsaken ones full of scuff marks and leather cracks, Boot World is your first and best option. Not only have we revolutionized the footwear game by focusing on boots for men, women, and children; we also carry a variety of shoes in a variety of leather shoe styles from all your favorite brands.
Shop great regular and discount prices on boots and accessories, including free shipping on orders over $100. Grab what you need for restoration, or get your new favorite pair today!
Masterclass. Fabric Guide: Learn About Leather. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-leather#what-is-leather
Masterclass. How to Clean Leather: 8 Tips for Cleaning Leather Properly. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-clean-leather#8-tips-for-cleaning-leather-properly
Nicks Boots. How To Restore Leather Boots After They've Gotten Beat Up With Work. https://nicksboots.com/blog/post/restoring-work-boots-after-heavy-use/
One Country. The Easy Way To Bring Your Old Boots Back To Life. https://www.onecountry.com/lifestyle/save-your-old-boots/
Work Gearz. How to Restore Old Leather Boots: Easy & Quick DIY Ideas. https://workgearz.com/how-to-restore-old-leather-boots/