It was a sad day when my favourite pair of leather ankle boots that I bought while studying abroad in Italy finally gave into the salt-covered streets last winter. I made the grave mistake of not cleaning them properly and before too long, the salt stains wouldn't come out. This winter, I will not be making the same mistake with the rest of my leather pairs.
Once I came across the right tips to keeping my boots as good as new, I had to share them now that winter is quickly approaching. With just a handful of products, a few of which are already in your home, you'll never question again how to make your leather boots last for seasons to come.
Read on to learn how to protect leather boots in seven essential steps.
What you'll need
Step 1: Assess your damage
Do you have salt stains potentially damaging your boots? Maybe you have general dirt that’s built up? Or perhaps your boots got wet walking around in the rain. There are different methods of cleaning leather boots depending on how dirty they are.
Step 2: Cleaning
No matter which type of damage your boots have withstood, the best thing to do is to clean them off as soon as you get home before your boots dry off. This will prevent your stains from setting in and any future damage.
For salt stains, mix white vinegar and water in equal parts and wipe off the stains with a soft cloth. For general dirt, use a saddle soap and wipe off the dirt with a damp rag.
Step 3: Let them dry off
Though this is self-explanatory, your boots really do need to dry off completely after a cleaning but before taking away scuff marks. One important thing to note is to let them air dry out in the open somewhere warm but without direct heat on them.
Step 4: Removing scuff marks
Taking a soft cloth, dab with water to dampen and then dip into baking soda. Rub off the scuff marks until they're all gone and then wipe the boot clean.
Step 5: Conditioning
Applying the conditioner is super simple—you'll just need a clean cloth, any one will do. Dab it with your conditioner or leather oil and be sure to spread it all over your boots so that it touches every inch and corner of the leather, including the seams and stitches.
Step 6: Protective spray
It's a good idea to spray your boots with a protective barrier after every time you clean them off and when you start wearing them each season. Use waterproofing spray on your boots when you first get them before you start wearing them and after you've cleaned them each time (only once they're dry).
Step 7: Storage
Leave your boots out to dry after cleaning them in a warm place. Avoid any harsh or direct heat on them, as it will damage and may ruin the leather. You need to let them breathe. Avoid storing them in a plastic bag and instead leave them out in the open somewhere safe, like on a shelf.
Now that you know all the tips and tricks to keeping your leather boots spotless and long-lasting, shop a few pairs we're lusting after this winter.
The slim cut of these over-the-knee boots means they'll look super chic worn with a maxi dress. We love the mushroom colour.
Slouchy '80s-style boots are all the rage, and we love them. Worn as styled here with a wrap dress and a roll-neck, you've got the perfect workwear look.
The combination of black, brown and snakeskin has never looked sleeker. Wear with boot-leg dark denim and a chunky knit for an on-point, off-duty look.
Every wardrobe should own a pair of over-the-knee boots this winter. This green pair is a welcome change from the usual black.
Bring back the fashionable '90s with these sleek, clean-cut and grunge-inspired lace-up boots in shiny leather.
Make any outfit stand out with these flecks of colour.
The softer grey colour of these boots is a welcome change. We love the buckle detailing.
Wear with casual separates at the weekend.
In case you hadn't heard, leopard print goes with everything, so you'll be needing these.
Chic, modern and unashamedly sleek. We heart the playful detailing on this pair.Now you know how to take care of your shoes, why not take a peek at our edit of best ankle boots?
Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.