Your amazing closetful of boots is made of fine leather because you like your boots beautiful and durable. But, what happens when your leather boots catch a tough stain that refuses to go away and don’t let them shine in all their glory? Leather shoes become dirty from elements such as accumulated salt on the streets in winters or a liquid bottle discarded on sidewalks and dirty puddles in the monsoon. Since real leather is a porous material, it absorbs these elements that create a patch on the exterior of the shoes. Moreover, when light-colored leather gets stained, it can be bigger eyesore than a dark leather stain, for obvious reasons. Not all stains are the same. Different types of stains require varying methods of cleaning. Knowing how to clean leather shoes can come handy at this point and it will make sure that you preserve the leather for years.
For Darker Spots
Things You'll Need
- Soft cotton cloth
- A small, soft-bristled brush
- Distilled Water
- Mild Dish soap
- Isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle, in 1:1 ratio
- Shoe trees or any object that can be used as a stand
3% hydrogen peroxide
First, remove the dark spots from your leather boots by scrubbing the area the brush or the soft cloth, using mild dishwashing soap. Dampen a soft cloth with water and add a squirt of dish soap. Rub the cloth over the leather until the ink disappears. For tougher stains like dark mildew stains, use isopropyl alcohol and water spray solution. Rub the alcohol solution into the mildew stain using a piece of soft cloth until the mildew dissolves.
For dark stains caused by water, first, allow the boots to dry naturally and then blot up as much of the water as you can with a soft cloth/sponge/blotting paper. Place shoe trees in the shoes to help them keep their shape and prevent shrinkage. To remove dark blood spots on leather, you’ll need to rub the demarcated area with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on a damp cloth.
For Other Stains-
At first, remove the laces. You don’t want your perfectly matched laces to get dirty or wet during the cleaning process. If the laces are already dirty, run them through the washing machine or replace them. It is ill-advised to keep using dirty laces on leather boots.
The next step is to clean all the loose dirt and debris. For this, use a soft cloth or a brush to remove any grime that may be stuck to the shoe’s leather surfaces. As scary as it sounds at first, apply mild soap in moderate quantities is safe when mixed with warm water and put on a soft cloth. Wipe off the soap and dry the area out with a towel. Lastly, condition the leather by applying a leather conditioner to protect from future stains and to add a nice shine. You can buy a leather conditioner.
Grease or Oil
Sprinkle half teaspoon baking soda or cornstarch or talcum powder on the stained spot. Rub it in gently, with a warm damp cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight if you notice that there’s no improvement in the affected area. The soda or starch in the ingredients will absorb the oil. Wipe off the powder with a soft dry cloth.
Dip a cotton swab in a good quality nail polish remover or better to use rubbing alcohol if you have it handy, to lightly blot the stain. Pat, don’t rub. Blot gently until the stain is gone. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry with a towel. You can also use a hairspray alternatively, to remove the ink.
Easier to remove, you can simply use a drop of toothpaste to clean leather. Squirt a dab of the non-gel paste on the scuffed area. Rub with thin and soft cotton cloth.
For any other stains like road salt or something else that you don’t know the cause of, mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar into a paste. Apply to the stained area and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Use a damp warm cloth to wipe off the paste. Lemon juice and cream of tartar have a mild bleaching effect, so only use this on light-colored leather. You can also use 1 tablespoon of vinegar and water to clean the road salt stains instead of lemon juice. The vinegar solution will also restore shine!
More tips to protect your boots
Protect your leather boots with a stain and water repellent to prevent deep-set staining.
If possible, apply any cleaning products following the direction of the texture on your leather boots and work from the outside of the stain towards the center.
Treating the stain immediately is your best bet for any chance of removing the stain.
For more stubborn or serious grease stains, a leather degreaser can be used.