No wardrobe is complete without a nice and classy pair of shoes. Besides having regular sneakers and work boots, you must have some bling and shine in your closet. A pair of leather boots can fulfil this.
Leather shoes are well-known for their elegant looks, durability, and supportive construction. However, this is only valid till you maintain them properly. As leather is not entirely water-resistant, it could succumb to cracks and discolouration. But this can be avoided by taking a few steps towards leather restoration techniques.
So, if you want your leather boots to complement your outfits for years, adhere to the following methods and learn how to keep their quality intact.
What Brings Leather Back to Life?
Just like any other fabric, leather is prone to wear and scratches. This could either be due to the time factor or with frequent usages. Nevertheless, you can bring back the leather’s shine and luster through the following ways:
Cleaning the Leather
The primary step in bringing leather back to life is by cleaning it. Your leather shoes might be laded with dirt, grime, and dust particles. It could either be on the outsoles, top surface, and even the insoles.
Start cleaning the shoes by removing the laces. You will have to wash the laces separately. Take a dry piece of cloth and clean the shoes thoroughly. Use Q-tips to reach every nook and corner of the boots. You can also use leather cleaners if the shoes are in terrible condition.
Conditioning the Shoes
After cleaning the shoes, you will have to condition them. This helps in repairing and preventing any further damage.
When leather is exposed to water, it hardens up and loses its shine and suppleness. However, using a leather conditioner can bring back the lost moisture. It keeps the fabric fresh and soft and makes the boots look as good as new.
The leather is not scratch-resistant. If you have a pet, its claws can cause visible scratches on the surface of your leather boots. Moreover, contact with sharp objects can leave your shoes covered with marks and scratches.
You can mask the scratches by conditioning the shoes regularly.
As mentioned earlier, leather is not water-proof. Even the slightest contact with water can dry up the fabric and harden the surface. But you can water-proof your leather boots to restore them.
Oiling your shoes or exposure to moisture can fade or darken leather. This can even cause minor or significant spots on the surface. Such marks can make the boots look unkempt. But you can opt for a repair that can restore the lost color and shade of your leather boots.
Steps to Restore Leather Boots
A little bit of elbow grease is required when it comes to restoring leather boots. But if you are aware of the steps, you can get it done in no time with the best results.
So, take a day out of your schedule and follow the steps mentioned below and restore your leather boots’ integrity.
The first step is cleaning. This will require time and effort, but it is essential for the boots’ maintenance. The restoration process cannot begin without cleaning the shoes.
Start by removing the shoes’ laces. It will be cumbersome to clean the boots with the laces intact. Clean the laces in soap and water. Let the laces dry while you clean the shoes.
Take a dry cloth and remove any dirt or grime stuck on the shoes. Cover all the nooks and corners. If you see dust particles stuck in the seams, clean it with Q-tips.
After the shoes look visibly clean, prepare a mixture of warm water and soap. Mix it thoroughly and dip a piece of cloth in the mix.
Start by rubbing the cloth on the shoes’ exterior. You can rub it in circular motions for better absorption. At the same time, ensure that the shoes do not get drenched in the process.
Clean the insoles, upper surface, tongue, and eyelets to clean the shoes thoroughly. Once all areas are covered, leave them to dry. Place them in a well-ventilated room and not in direct sunlight.
Oiling and Greasing
Do you remember how our skin reacts in winter reason? It gets all dried up and rough. This is due to dehydration or lack of moisture. Leather shoes have a similar mechanism. They could lose moisture over time and get hardened up with the formation of cracks. This can be avoided by regularly oiling them.
Several kinds of leather oils are available, like mink oil, pine oil, etc.
Note: Always clean the shoes before oiling them. If you are using a cleaner, choose the one without alcohol as it could absorb all the moisture from the leather.
After cleaning them, remove some leather oil in a container. Get a clean cloth and dip it in the oil. Start by applying the oil in circular motions. Do not dab the fabric but rather run it smoothly across the surface.
Apply a thin layer. You might see discoloration due to the oil application, but it will fade away soon after.
You can also apply two coatings of oil if required. However, keep enough time gap between the two to let the shoes dry.
Once the shoes are oiled, leave them to dry overnight.
Cream and Polish
Once the shoes are cleaned, conditioned, oiled, and dried, it is time for some polishing. It not only helps in giving a final touch but also helps in restoring the shine.
As leather is prone to cracks and scuff, polishing can hide them.
Wax polishes help give the shoes some extra shine to put you in the limelight in exclusive events.
Polishing is a subjective decision. If you do not wish to polish your shoes, you can skip it and use some boot cream instead.
Apply a thin layer of boot cream all over the shoes. It can help in filling the cracks and hiding the scratches.
Note: As boot creams come in different colors, choose the one that matches your shoes to avoid discoloration.
Let the shoes dry after applying them with cream. As boot creams act as a moisturizer, you will feel suppleness in your leather shoes post their application.
Boots that Require Significant Repairs
Besides the regular touch-ups, some shoes might require substantial repairs that go beyond the exterior looks. You will have to let a professional take care of it.
Most of such repairs might be related to insoles or outsoles. With rigorous usage, the insoles could get undone or wear out.
If there are specific issues with the shoes beyond repair through any techniques, you can either replace them or take them to a repair shop.
Re-sole your Old Leather Boots
Ever so often, you might feel the insoles coming off in leather boots. This can be due to rigorous usage or extended time.
Moreover, sometimes the stitching can come off, leaving the shoes without an intact insole. In such situations, you can re-sole your boots in the following manner:
- Start by cleaning the soles with a clean toothbrush. Remove the dirt and dust particles with it.
- Scrub the soles with sandpaper to get a smooth finishing.
- Apply glue over the sole with a kitchen sponge.
- Let the glue sit for four-five minutes to get the right consistency.
- Clean the new sole with a toothbrush and then brush it with sandpaper.
- Press the new sole in the boots.
- You can tighten the sole by tying an elastic band around it.
- Fixate the sole with tiny nails and a hammer. Be careful while doing it, or it could lead to hazardous consequences.
How to Restore: Roughout vs. Grain Leather?
Leather boots can have variations like roughout or grain leather. You can restore both of them in distinctive ways.
Roughout leather is dyed. It is the fleshy underside of the animal hide. Most of the workboots have a roughout construction. They are preferred over grain leather as they are more durable and resistant.
If your boots have a fuzzy texture, they are made of roughout. On the other hand, if they have a smooth surface, you have grain-leather construction.
Roughout leather only requires cleaning and oiling. But when it comes to grain leather, you can use a shoe-specific detergent to clean and restore its shine and luster.
DIY Methods for Shoe Restoration
We understand that you might not be a shoe expert, but there are certain DIY techniques through which you can restore your shoes.
At times, your shoes can get stained due to ink or grease. If you find yourself in a similar situation, following these steps to get spotless leather boots.
Two methods can remove ink stains from leather boots.
Take a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol.
Consider taking a spot test to prevent ruining the shoes. Apply it on a discreet part of the shoe to check the effects. Let it sit for ten-fifteen minutes to see the results.
Once you are sure of it, dab the cotton ball on the stained area. Rub it in circular motions and avoid scrubbing.
Stop rubbing once the ink begins fading.
Apply some leather conditioner on the affected area to maintain its lustre.
Take nail polish remover and apply it directly to the stains.
Let it sit for a few seconds to permit the liquid to get absorbed in the stain.
Once it has been absorbed, rub the stain with a clean cloth.
Prepare a solution with soap and water and clean the area.
Grease stains can be caused in factories or even at home. Regardless, you can remove those stubborn stains in the following manner:
Take some baking soda or cornstarch and sprinkle it over the stained area.
With a wet clothing piece, rub the area gently.
Let the shoes sit overnight. This will allow the starch to absorb the grease.
Wipe it off in the morning with a clean cloth and let the shoes dry.
You can also use talcum powder to get the work done.
How to Restore Faded Leather Shoes?
Leather can lose its lustrous color and shade over time. But you can restore it with the following steps:
Clean the Shoes
You cannot work on any shoes that are laded with dust particles and grime. So before we get started, ensure that the shoes are cleaned.
You can use a clean cloth to remove any dirt. If required, use a horsehair brush.
Mix vinegar and water in equal proportions. Soak some paper towels in the mixture and rub the leather shoes with them.
Once the entire shoe is covered, dry them with a dryer.
Wax polishing your shoes can bring back their shine in no time.
Coat your faded boots with leather or wax polish. Start with thin layers and build up as per the discoloration.
Focus on the areas that are the most faded. Make sure there is an even application for finessed results.
Buff the Shoes
After polishing your leather shoes, take a cotton cloth and buff your shoes.
Once it is done, let the shoes dry naturally or with a dryer.
Leather boots are an essential investment, and you must not let your money go to waste by not maintaining them. Adhere to the techniques mentioned above, and do not let your boots succumb to any harmful external factor.
That is for the restoration of leather boots. Check out other articles and know more about boots and how to take care of them.
I am a registered professional nurse with experience of 10+ years under my belt. I graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since then, I have been beneficial for various rehabilitative and critical medical situations. I work with Feetfitness.com Team with researching foot problems and assists them by providing my expertise in the best footwear for different medical conditions. I am also instrumental to the group by helping in test, compile, and present the best footwear for professionals & everyday uses