Bringing Back the Boot
November 25, 2009 6:03 AM   Subscribe

When I buy used boots, how do I best clean and restore the leather?

Settling in on a winter work uniform of skirts with boots, I've been buying some cute used boots. It's getting ready to snow and I've never conditioned leather before. Do I need to clean the leather first? Are there any standout products to use? Do I treat black, brown and tan differently?

posted by readery to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is what I do for smooth leather (NOT sude, which is completely different and will likely not appreciate my methods): clean it with saddle soap, which will clean any color of leather and condition it. If the boots need stretched a little, I stuff the toe box with newspaper after cleaning with saddle soap, while the boots dry. You can buff the boots once they're dry and then be done, but if you want to waterproof your boots, you can use mink oil on them. Be aware, however, that mink oil is made from mink, and it will likely darken the leather some. Mink oil smells kind of odd -- if you can, you might want to check it out before buying it. I am able to find both these products at shoes stores and stores like Wal-Mart or Meijer.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:14 AM on November 25, 2009

Sigh. All right, all right. I will go get coffee so I'm more coherent.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:16 AM on November 25, 2009

Is it shineable leather? If so, don't use mink oil if you want to continue to shine them.
posted by electroboy at 6:21 AM on November 25, 2009

Smaller items, I usually clean ith a touch of dish soap and water then use Brooks Proofide on it. That has kept my shoes and wallet happy for ages and ages.

Proofide isn't cheap, so larger stuff like car seats I use Lexol on. Also an awesome product.
posted by paanta at 6:56 AM on November 25, 2009

Saddle soap and boot cream. It comes in a variety of colors. If you don't want to keep polishing them, or they need to be waterproofish, mink oil.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: Is it shineable leather? If so, don't use mink oil if you want to continue to shine them.

For real? I had never heard that! What happens? I'm trying to think if I've ever done this, but I usually use polish on black shoes and mink oil on my weird shades-of-brown-red shoes, so i don't think I've ever mixed them (coincidentally). Does the polish not stick?

to the OP: I've found this summary of shoe products and how to use them to be helpful.
posted by aimedwander at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: It's possible I'm doing it wrong, but in my experience mink oil soaks into the leather and makes it sort of soft and pliable and more or less unable to be shined.

So, for men's dress shoes you'd stick to saddle soap and polish only, but for something like a leather bag you'd use mink oil. So, you'd use polish on something like this, but mink oil on something like this.
posted by electroboy at 10:56 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: Obenauf's LP is a fantastic leather conditioner. Check out how the folks at Russell Moccasin use it to restore janky old boots. It's available online and at most places that sell leather boots, including many army-navy surplus stores.
posted by dersins at 5:05 PM on November 28, 2009

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