Fall screams pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, huge sweaters, and a refreshing shift away from 90 degree weather. But cold weather unfortunately equates to slim pickings in the footwear department, and you have to choose between boots…or boots. Before you bust out your favorite leather riding boots this fall and wear them excessively until March, give them the spring (er, fall?) clean that they rightfully deserve to make them look brand spanking new.
Once you get a new pair of leather boots, you should always spray them with a water or leather protectant spray. Some leather shoe brands, like Frye, even have their own specific kind of leather waterproofing spray or conditioning cream. But, sometimes you get so wrapped up in the excitement of buying new shoes that you forget this step and proceed to wear them ASAP. Rookie mistake, but we’re all guilty of this. Here’s what to do if you want to get any scuffs or stains off your beloved boots, whether you’ve sprayed them or not.
Leather boots can get a lot of wear and tear from salt and snow in the winter, so your favorite pairs might have seen better days. To get those light, powder-looking scuff marks off your boots, Good Housekeeping advises to make a solution with equal parts water and either vinegar or moisturizing soap. Dip a rag or cloth into the solution and dab it over the salt-stained areas. Grab another towel and soak it in water so that it’s slightly damp, wipe it on the shoes, and then dry them with a clean towel. Let the boots air dry overnight, and voilà! No more salt rings for you, my friend. You can also buy shoe desalters to get the job done just as well. To prevent new salt stains from forming in the first place this winter, immediately wipe your boots with a wet cloth or sponge when you first get inside.
For any non-salt scuffs, take a gentler approach to removing them. Turn to baking soda and water for this cleaning trick. Dip a water-soaked damp cloth in baking soda and carefully dab away at any spots or scuffs. You can also use mild dish soap and water to clean away scuffs, but perform a small spot test on finer quality leather boots to see how this solution will react. Either way, once you’ve rubbed the spots out, wipe the shoes with a clean, damp cloth. For any grease stains, WikiHow advises using cornstarch. Cover the entire stain with it, then let the substance soak for a few hours. Wipe the cornstarch off with a slightly damp cloth or towel.
To give your boots an overall brand-new look, consider investing in a leather cleaner. Once you remove any scuffs or stains, use this product on your shoes for the finishing touch. You can get leather cleaners from Frye, Walmart, and Cole Haan. It’s definitely worth having on-hand for future leather purchases, and most usually don’t cost a fortune.
Moral of the story—spray your leather shoes immediately after buying them to save yourself the hassle of constantly cleaning and removing scuffs. You also want to avoid cleaning your boots too much because it can dry out the leather, so a nice protective spray from the get-go can help preserve your shoes in the long run. You’ll thank yourself this come fall and winter, and you’ll have pristine leather boots to last you until spring.