Investing in a pair of long leather riding boots can be an expensive purchase so making sure you are prepared to care for the leather to ensure they last as long as possible and remain in good condition, is essential.
Without proper conditioning and care, leather can dry out eventually cracking and falling apart. To protect and care for your boots properly there are four vital steps you need to follow. It is always worth remembering to condition new leather boots before you wear them. This will help to ensure that your boots are best protected from the start, and will save time on future cleanings. Then once worn, follow this four-step guide:
- Preserve or weather-proof
Caring for smooth leather is completely different to caring for suede or nubuck etc. This guide pertains to caring for smooth leather boots and so you should ensure all the products you purchase are recommended for this type of leather and follow the instructions carefully. Protect your clothing, wear gloves, work on top of newspaper and work in a well-ventilated area.
Step One – Clean
Use a soft shoe brush, which won’t scratch the leather, and some warm water to remove dirt from the surface. You may like to use saddle soap or leather cleaner for better result; many types are available including gels, foams, sprays, liquids and creams. After cleaning, let the boots dry for a few minutes and then begin shining with a soft cotton cloth - either a shoe shine cloth, or even an old t-shirt, as long as it's soft and made of cotton.
Step Two – Condition
Some products on the market clean & condition but if you have used a product which cleans only you will need to condition the leather to help soften and moisturise. A good quality Saddle Food is a good choice and will protect the leather from drying out and cracking.
Using a clean sponge or cloth to apply, rub small amounts of conditioner into the leather, until it has been covered. After a couple of minutes, wipe any remaining conditioner off as the leather will only absorb what it can.
Step Three - Polish
Certain polishes contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin and or inhaled so always put gloves on before using shoe polish and work in a well-ventilated area.
Apply the polish to a small, less conspicuous area of your boots to test and be sure the colour is right before you apply to the whole boot. Rub the polish into the boots with a soft cloth, and allow it to dry thoroughly.
After the polish is dry, shine by buffing with a soft cloth or brush made specifically for shining shoes. A Leather Sheen is a great choice.
Step Four – Preserve or Weather-proof
Weather-proofing your leather boots with a product like a Paste Wax will help to protect them from water and other elements that can ruin the finish and shorten the life of your boots. Different weather-proofing products serve different purposes, so you should choose wisely. For example, some products leave a build-up and can alter the appearance of the leather.
When appearance is important, a spray-proofer is ideal, by providing a breathable barrier against wet conditions and dirt, this type of weatherproofing product is virtually invisible on your boots.
Feature courtesy of Abbey England.