How To Clean Leather Boots With Household Items? Step-By-Step

Cleaning your leather boots last minute can be a hassle. You may find yourself scrambling for random items that you think can clean your boots. But we know how to clean leather boots with household items the easy way. Grab a toothbrush to dry clean dirt, use a damp cloth if too dirty, and go for a soapy water mix if you must. 

Rub with a dry cloth to remove any wetness. Always let your shoe air dry. A coat of Vaseline can condition your shoes if you don’t have any shoe products. That’s the best use you can get out of household items. 

However, read our step-by-step guide to get exactly how you can get the best cleaning results with household items. 

How To Clean Leather Boots With Household Items? Easy Process To Get The Best Results

Our simple guide on how to clean leather shoes with household items or products will not only include cleaning but also conditioning your leather for maximum benefits. While you’re at it you can also polish your leather with the right shade of shoe polish. Let’s get into the process.

How To Clean Leather Boots With Household Items Easy Process To Get The Best Results

1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

You will need a few different things to start cleaning. Before beginning assemble the following items.

  • Old toothbrush
  • Damp towel
  • Mild dishwashing liquid or soap
  • Water
  • Dry rag

Other Dirt Removing Agents You Can Try:

  • Vinegar
  • Alcohol
  • Water and baking soda

If your shoes are only lightly dirty, there’s a good chance you don’t need to wet them at all. The rule is to keep leather as dry as possible. So, you should always start by brushing your shoes with a hard bristle brush.

2. Dry Cleaning Your Shoes

Your old toothbrush is good for this job. All you need to do is brush at the exterior of your shoes. Go back and forth while scrubbing. Loose dirt should fall off your shoes. However, there’s a good chance some dirt will stay caked to the leather. In that case, move on to the next step.

However, if this much cleaning is enough, move on to conditioning in step 6.

3. Clean with Damp Towel

Make sure the towel you use isn’t too wet, just a bit damp, so water won’t drip down your shoes. Use the towel to rub on your shoe’s leather. You may need to rub a bit hard if a particular patch of dirt is too dry.

However, this should clean a lot of the dirt. If your boot isn’t covered with a thick layer of mud or something like that, this much should be enough to clean it. But move on to the next step if you still need more cleaning. Or else, it’s time to condition.

4. Use a Cleaning Agent

If your boots are seriously dirty, this step is essential to get the dirt out. Try not to get your shoes wet. But it’s best to take out the insole before you start.

Our guide on how to clean leather boots at home doesn’t expect you to have saddle soap at hand, which is usually a very good leather cleaning agent. You’ll be fine with a regular soap or use a few drops of dishwashing liquid to get the water soapy. Dip your toothbrush in the solution.

Make wide circular motions all over the leather to get the leather off. Rub with a damp towel. Do another round with your brush, then the towel if needed. 

If you don’t want to use soap water, you can use vinegar or alcohol or water and baking soda solution. Apply a bit of one of these liquids on your boot with your brush and leave it in for 10 minutes to soften the mud. Then just brush as you would with soap water. 

5. Dry Your Boots

You need to now allow your clean boots to dry. Never skip this step as wet boots can get moldy and that would ruin your nice shoes. 

Take a soft dry piece of cloth that you can wipe your shoes with. This will soak up additional moisture from your boots. Rub well to remove any scuff marks. Usually, a soft bristle brush is used to remove scuffs but you may not have one around. In that case, you can try a dry sponge for this job.

Let your boots air dry after you’re done rubbing. Don’t apply direct heat with your hair dryer or leave them in direct sunlight. Be patient, it will dry soon. Put your insoles back in once dried. 

6. Apply a Homemade Conditioner

Conditioning is great for your shoes. After cleaning, the conditioner has a chance to penetrate even deeper into the leather as there are no dirt particles blocking its way. You may not have a conditioner at hand, that’s why we came up with this simple homemade boot oil recipe for you. This balm works great.

However, if you want to keep it simple, just use Vaseline for conditioning. 


  • 1 part beeswax
  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 2 parts almond oil


Take the ingredients in an aluminum foil bowl and place it in a pan. Add water to the pan so the bowl is floating in water a bit. Start up the stove and let the water boil. Heat will melt the oils completely. Give it a stir before turning off the stove. 

Pour the oil into a container and let it cool. The oil will convert to a balmy texture.

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Take a dry and clean rag to dab on some of the balm. Rub the balm into the leather of your shoes in small circles. Thoroughly cover the entire exterior of your boots. The leather will darken a bit. But your boots will feel extra supple and smooth.

7. Give Them Polish

You may not have a polish at home and in that case, you can totally skip this step. This just adds to the finishing touches and gives your boots an almost new look so we had to mention it.

You’ll find that polish sits well after conditioning. So take a creamy polish that matches your boots’ color and get to work. Dab on a rag to rub the polish onto your shoes or use a soft brush or sponge instead.

Your shoes should look squeaky clean at this point.

How To Clean Leather Cowboy Boots?

The process for leather cowboy boots is the same as any other leather boot. We go through a three-step process of cleaning, conditioning, and polishing in our article on how to clean leather cowboy boots.

How To Clean Leather Cowboy Boots

However, we do recommend some shoe products like- lanolin-based conditioner and polish that do a great job of restoring your shoes as well as saddle soap to clean your boots when extremely dirty.

Saddle soap is great at getting out dirt from the pores in your leather. In fact, it shrinks the pores a bit and strips them from oil and wax. That’s why we only recommend using this soap on leather that has abundant oil and wax.

You need to use an oil-based conditioner and creamy polish to make up for the lost oil when you clean with saddle soap. That way, your shoes get all the cleaning they need in a relatively faster process without any damage. So, don’t skip conditioning when using saddle soap.

How To Prevent Your Leather Boots From Getting Dirty Again?

Leather protective products are your answer. They create a protective top layer and cover all the micropores in your leather to protect against moisture and dirt from seeping in. 

How To Prevent Your Leather Boots From Getting Dirty Again

These products come as wax, soap, and the best-of-all sprays. We highly recommend using a spray over other forms as it is very efficient and easy-to-apply. 

Here’s how to apply leather protector spray to get the maximum effect.

  • Make sure your shoes are clean. You want the spray to penetrate into the pores of your leather and build a hard outer coating on top to prevent dirt and moisture from getting in.
  • Apply the spray directly onto the leather. There’s no need to apply the excessive product so that it runs down your leather. You just need an even coat all over your boots. 
  • Let the product dry. There’s no need to speed up the process. Wait to air dry.
  • For pigmented leather, the first coat is enough. But apply a second coat for aniline leather. Let the second layer dry as well after getting an even coat.
  • Next, you need to use a buffing cloth to rub the leather a bit to buff your leather. Use a gentle hand during this step. It will make your leather shine and pop while dispersing the product evenly.

That’s it. Your shoes are protected for a good while.

Some of The Best Leather Protector Sprays – Our Top Recommendations

Here are some of the best leather protector sprays in the market you can try. We’ll tell you exactly why we love them and things to look out for.

Some of The Best Leather Protector Sprays - Our Top Recommendations

1. Bickmore’s Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent Spray – Best For Quick Drying

Bickmore’s spray creates a very fine mist that is great for even application. Each coat takes about an hour to dry, which is fast for a protector spray. Moreover, the color of your leather won’t change. For the first you minutes, you’ll notice the color getting darker but as it dries, the natural color is back.

However, each 5.5 Oz. can lasts about 4 coats when applied on adult-sized boots. As the product is also priced higher than the competitors, this brand is comparatively expensive even though highly effective.

2. Kiwi Select All Protector – Best Bang For Buck

Kiwi is a great brand when it comes to shoe care. A 7.7 Oz. can of Kiwi Select All Protector is more affordable than the Bickmore spray of a smaller size. So, this brand definitely gets the price advantage.

When it comes to performance, this one is no less than a magic potion. Although it doesn’t dry as fast as Bickmore, you get a very fine mist and easy direction. You can apply it to different types of materials like leather, suede, fabric, and nubuck, which makes it a very versatile option. 

You just need to be careful of applying the spray outdoors as it has a very pungent, nauseating smell that you want to avoid. 

3. Cadillac Shield Water and Stain Spray – Best For Versatility

This Cadillac spray works with all kinds of materials like:

  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Fabric
  • Synthetics
  • Nubuck
  • Canvas
  • Nylon
  • Polyester

It offers great protection against water and dirt. The best part is that it doesn’t contain silicone and is aerosol-free and environment-friendly. When it comes to performance, dirt will just brush off the protective surface created by this spray, dries fairly quickly, and doesn’t change the color of your leather. 

Tips To Take Care of Your Boot Leather

Here are some tips when it comes to taking care of your boots long-term. Lather needs to be taken care of if you want it to last long. 

Tips To Take Care of Your Boot Leather


Storage is important when it comes to shelf life. You can’t choose a spot that’s too dark and damp, that can be a breeding ground for molds that will ruin your shoe. Direct sunlight will also ruin your leather by cracking it. So, choose a moderate temperature, breathable space for storage.


Condition twice weekly for regular-use boots. You don’t need to take forever to do this. Just rub the conditioner in evenly with a dry cloth. This will add months to your boot’s life.


You can apply a thin film of Shoe Goo and let it dry to get a solid layer on your shoes that protect against dirt and is definitely waterproof. It takes more patience than the protector sprays we mentioned. But you can apply it on internal and external parts of your boots for all-around protection. Plus, it lasts longer. 

Final Words

How to clean leather boots with household items? Grab your old toothbrush, damp towel, dishwashing liquid or soap, water, and a dry rag to get started.

Dry cleaning with a toothbrush will remove the loose dirt. Next, a damp towel works to remove more heavyset mud and dirt. Lastly, if that fails go in with some soapy water and your toothbrush to gently remove the remaining dirt and stains. 

You can also use vinegar or baking soda and water, or alcohol instead of soapy water for this step. Just leave any of these in for 10 minutes before brushing the dirt off. Air dry and finish with a minimal conditioner or Vaseline and some polish. 

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