How To Clean Cowboy Boots?

Cowboy boots need proper care in order to enjoy a full lifespan. Cleaning is a big part of the maintenance of your boots. How to clean cowboy boots? Use a damp cloth or a soft brush to gently clean up any dry dirt or mud on your boots.

Without proper cleaning, dirt will stick to the microfiber of your boots and dry them out. Your boots will get cracked and ruined without regular cleaning. Moreover, you can also clean your leather boots with household items.

But keeping your boots dirt-free isn’t enough. To take full care of them, you need a three-step action process where you clean, condition, then polish. Keep on scrolling to learn all about taking proper care of your cowboy boots.

How To Clean Cowboy Boots? Step-By-Step Process

Here’s our step-by-step guide on cleaning leather cowboy boots. Don’t replicate the process for suede and distressed nubuck.

How To Clean Cowboy Boots Step-By-Step Process

1. Prepare The Necessary Items

You will need the following things. Gather everything together to get started.

  • A moist towel 
  • Toothbrush
  • A soft bristle brush or a dry eraser
  • Dry cloth or sponge
  • A lanolin-based leather conditioner
  • Leather polish


  • Soapy water

2. Remove Dirt Particles From Your Shoes

After a day’s worth of work, you will surely notice mud and dirt on your boots. Some are going to be more stubborn than others. Start by taking a damp towel and rubbing on your boots. Make sure the towel isn’t too wet. 

Use a hard bristle brush or an old toothbrush for more stubborn dirt that won’t go away. Dry dirt will usually get scrubbed off your boot when you brush it this way. 

After that, use a soft bristle brush to give the finishing touch. You can also use a whiteboard eraser for this job. Give a good scrub with the brush or eraser to remove scuff marks.

3. Deep Cleaning To Remove Stubborn Dirt

If your boots are particularly dirty and even a hard brush isn’t getting all the dirt out, it’s time to bring out the soap and water.

Apply soapy water on the area where the dirt isn’t getting removed. Make sure that water doesn’t run down to other parts of your boots. Keep your boots as dry as possible.

Wait 5-10 minutes for the dirt to soften. Instead of soap water, other ingredients can also work to soften the dirt. For example:

  • Vinegar
  • Alcohol
  • Water and baking soda

After the dirt has softened, use your toothbrush to scrub the dirt. This time the dirt should easily come off. Rub your boots with a damp towel to clean the dirt off and make them look fresh.

4. Let Your Boots Dry

Air dry your boots if they’re only slightly damp. However, if they’re looking wet enough for water to seep inside the boots, you need to remove the insoles. Use a dry piece of fabric to rub the boots inside and out. This will dry out the excess moisture.

Don’t use a hair dryer or other sources of heat to dry your boots. This may cause your boots to crack. Instead, wait for the water to evaporate naturally through air drying.

5. Condition Your Boots

After drying, you need to move on to conditioning your cowboy boots. This will keep your shoes looking fresh for a long time. A lanolin-based conditioner is our favorite as it helps the color and finish of your cowboy boots to hold for a long time. 

However, if your boots are dark, you can also go for an oil-based conditioner. They darken the shoe every time you apply it. In the end, you get a dark, oil-polished finish.

To apply, use a sponge or dry cloth. Dab the conditioner onto the sponge and start rubbing the boot. Begin at the bottom of your boot and work the conditioner in a circular motion.

Wait for the conditioner to get into your boots’ fiber. When well-conditioned, your boots should feel plump. If they’re still dry, apply more conditioner.

6. Polish Your Boots

Now, it’s time for the shoe polish. It is a big question that does shoe polish protect leather? The answer is – Yes. The process is the same as applying a conditioner. Use a sponge to rub the polish onto the leather. Start at the bottom and keep going in a circular motion.

When you’re done, your shoes should look squeaky clean, plump, moisturized, and polished.

How To Clean Your Cowboy Boots With Saddle Soap?

Although originally marketed as a product to clean horse saddles, today saddle soap is quite popular as an option for cleaning your boots.

How To Clean Your Cowboy Boots With Saddle Soap

However, it can be stripping of oil and is known for drying out the leather. That’s why, you should only use it on oily and waxy leather. Suede or rough-out leather is not well suited to be cleaned with such a strong soap.

That being said when your boots are especially dirty and stained, saddle soap is a great option to clean cowboy boots. Don’t use it unless absolutely necessary. Here’s what to do.

  • Start by dry cleaning your boots with a hard brush. Use a damp cloth to remove additional dirt.
  • If that doesn’t help much, take your brush and dip it in water. Apply some saddle soap on it and rub to let the foam lather. Scrub your boots gently for a while. Let the soap break into the grease and dirt.
  • With a dry towel rub off the excess soap and dirt. Your boots should look cleaner than ever. 
  • Allow your boots to air dry.

Don’t overuse saddle soap. Only clean your boots with them when they get too dirty and stained for regular cleaning.

How To Take Care Of Your Cowboy Boots? Tips & Tricks To Keep Your Boots Looking Fresh

Taking care of your boots is a must if you want to keep them going strong for a long time. The more careful you are while using them, the better your boots’ lifespan. Keep the following tips in mind to get your cowboy boots shining for a long time.

How To Take Care Of Your Cowboy Boots? Tips & Tricks To Keep Your Boots Looking Fresh

1. Cleaning Suede

Suede is harder to take care of than leather. Use a special suede brush to clean the dirt. Moreover, you can use a protective spray for your boots to keep the suede free from dirt and other staining material. 

2. Keep Boots Dry

Keeping your boots as dry as possible is very important. After every cleaning, never skip drying. If your boots get soaked, make sure to remove the insole ( some insoles are non removable ) and use an absorbent fabric to dry as much as possible. Let your boots completely air dry.

3. Protect From Heat

Don’t let your boots dry in direct sunlight or use any other heat source like your hair dryer or the stove. This can crack the leather.

4. Proper Storage

Storage is very important. When it comes to cowboy boots, you don’t want a damp and dark storage space. Neither do you want a hot storage space with only dry air. Both result in shoe deterioration. Instead, go for moderate temperatures and proper ventilation when choosing a storage space. 

5. Brush Your Boots Regularly

You can’t thoroughly clean, condition, and polish your boots every day. That’s fine. But after each day, when you get home, use a dry brush to rub away the loose dirt on your boots. 

This one-minute act can save your boots from cracking prematurely with dry dirt absorbing all the moisture away from your boot fibers. 

6. Fixing Your Shoes’ Damaged Soles

The sole of your boots has it the hardest. Scuffing and discoloration are normal after some use. Sole edge dressing can be a lifesaver in such cases. Use a brush to apply edge dressing to stain the sole.

 Make sure that your strokes are even and quick to get a good finishing. Rub the excess stain away with a piece of cloth. Let the product air dry. Your soles should look as good as new.

The Difference Between Polishing & Conditioning Your Cowboy Boots

Polishing and conditioning aren’t the same. There are many differences you have to understand here. Let’s take a look. 

PurposePolish works on the surface level. Its purpose is to make the leather of your boots shinier so that they look as good as new. Polish keeps the conditioner locked underneath as well. Conditioner repairs your boots on a deeper level. It penetrates your leather upper’s pores and conditions it deeply as a repairing agent. 
Method of applicationWhen you’re conditioning and polishing, polish is always the outer layer. Otherwise, it will act as a barrier for anything you apply over it. Conditioner goes underneath the polish. Use long and even strokes to condition your boots. Make sure to add a layer of polish for locking the conditioner in place. 
Frequency of useThere’s no limit to how often you can polish your boots. You can apply daily if you love shiny boots.Condition once after every three polishing sessions. You don’t need to condition your boots regularly.

Best Conditioner to clean Cowboy Boots

Choosing a good conditioner for your shoes is key to taking good care of them for a long time. Here are our top recommendations. All of these products do a phenomenal job of protecting your leather boots.

Best Conditioner For Cowboy Boots
  1. Cobbler’s Choice Leather Conditioner – Best For Breaking-In Shoes

While other leather conditioners hide their ingredients, Cobbler’s Choice is quite open about theirs. Their formula is petroleum-free, silicone-free, as well as alcohol-free. All this while keeping the color of your boots mostly the same. 

Since it softens up the leather when used, you can use it during the break-in period of your boots. It also adds a protective layer against the weather while ensuring total conditioning. 

  1. Obenauf’s Leather Conditioner – Best For Reviving Boot Color

This one is good for older boots that are becoming discolored as the formula is very good at reviving leather colors. 

Like Cobbler’s Choice, Obenauf’s is also made of natural ingredients. It’s good at rejuvenating your shoes’ supple leather and protecting them from the elements. Your boots will become resistant to sand, soil, and oil. Works on scuffs and prevents cracking and tears. 

  1. Venetian Shoe Cream – Best For Use As Polish Base

The formula of Venetian shoe cream is a secret but whatever they use, it works. The cream adds a nice layer of shine and softness to your leather. You won’t notice any significant darkening as well.

With an affordable price, this is a lot of boot lovers’ favorite. Moreover, this stuff doesn’t feel too thick and works as a solid base for any type of polish. So, if you want to give your boots the royal treatment, this shoe cream has the perfect liquid and light formula for it. 

Final Words

Taking care of your boots starts with cleaning. So, how to clean cowboy boots? You start by dusting off all the loose dirt with a dry, hard brush. Then, if it’s still dirty, go in with a damp cloth. Rub till the dirt comes off.

Now, most times that’s all the cleaning you’ll need. But sometimes you’ll need to use soapy water. Use a brush or cloth to rub in the soapy water on your boots. If the stain or dirt is particularly bad, use saddle soap as long as the leather is waxy and oily. 

Rub with a dry cloth. Air dry, condition, and polish. Your shoes should look shiny, clean, and gleaming. 

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