What to Expect and How to Take Care of Leather Boots

by David Hagerty

What to Expect and How to Take Care of Leather Boots

 

Breaking in your Pair of Leather Boots

You opened the box, and that marvelous smell of full grain leather permeates the air.  You look at the smooth shiny boot and wonder if the sole is made of wood as its layered leather looks like grains of wood.  But no, they’re not wood as you bend the toe.  Next with a bit of excitement you think, “I hope they fit, as I did order ½ size smaller as recommended.”  You put your foot in and they are a little bit tighter than what you’re use to.   

If the leather boots don’t fit snug, then they’re probably too big for you.  The leather will stretch, and you want to use this to your advantage as it makes for an amazing fit.  If you’re not careful it can create blisters, though.  For that reason, we highly recommend wearing your boots inside the house for a couple hours before you take them out for a spin.  Even wearing them while watching TV will help do the trick.  If it’s too tight, it’s most likely not an issue.  See below at how to stretch your leather boots.     

7 Tip on Keeping your Leather Boots in Good Shape

  1. Use a soft bristle brush to remove loose dirt and debris

This is something you should do regularly.  I have my brush by where I keep my boots and give them a cleaning whenever I see they need it.

  1. Keep your boots hydrated! Wipe down with a natural oil, Unscented Lotions or our Natural Leather Balm

Get a bowl and mix two parts oil with one part water or lemon juice. Any natural oil will work fine and many people like the smell of coconut, olive, or even walnut. The oil will help to hydrate your leather, while the lemon will remove any dirt or grime. Apply the mixture to your leather until it is damp and then buff it with a microfiber cloth.

 

Use our natural leather BalmIs nature’s original leather conditioner traditionally made from all-natural beef tallow. Tallow is PH balanced for your leather because it is the original fat of the leather. We use full grain cowhide leather; the same place tallow is from. Tallow and leather go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, ham, and cheese...well, you get the picture! Tallow absorbs beautifully into the fibers of your leather and acts as a water repellent. (Every tried to mix water and fat? Not going to happen....) Tallow is still often used in the tanning process called "fat liquoring," so Colorado Leather Balm really is replenishing the fats lost in tanning and over time as your leather dries out.

Note: If you are just interested in polishing your leather, then you can apply the oil directly to the leather. Make sure to keep the coating light or you could stain it.  This is a good way to darken your boots as well.

  1. Buff out marks with an eraser

For scuff marks, an eraser can help to rub away the transferred color.

  1. Get rid of tough stains using rubbing alcohol or Vaseline

Apply a small amount of the rubbing alcohol or Vaseline to paper towel or clothe. After 15-20 seconds, wipe the area dry with a cloth. Repeat this process a few times if the stain persists.

  1. Cleaning your boots with water and a bit of soap.

Ensure the cloth is only damp by ringing it out. Use very little non-detergent liquid soap on the damp cloth. Wipe the boot down. Leather boots are not actually waterproof. It’s best to use as little water as possible to clean and never wear them for long periods of time in soaking wet conditions as this can change the shape/ integrity of your boot.  They can get wet, just don’t go puddle jumping in them!

  1. Buff the shoes with a soft polishing cloth. Again, wipe in small circular motions to remove any excess water. To make sure that the shoes dry thoroughly after cleaning, set them out for at least 24 hours at room temperature.
  1. Use a vinegar rinse.Create a 50-50 distilled water and white vinegar mixture in a bowl. If you are just doing a light clean, lower the amount of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar can be a substitute as well, just if you aren’t interested in sanitizing the leather. Wipe the solution over your leather until it is damp.

Make sure to mix the vinegar with water, as straight vinegar can be too acidic for leather.

THE BEST WAY TO STRETCH YOUR LEATHER BOOTS?

 

  1. Wear the shoes around the house for a short period of time

The easiest ways to stretch out a pair of shoes is to wear them.  Go figure! Try wearing them for about an hour at a time, but if you can't wear them that long at first, that's okay. Depending on how tight they are you might consider wearing a thick pair of socks to help stretch your shoes even more.

  • This technique is best if the boots are only a little too tight.
  • If the boots rub or pinch your feet, don’t wear them for long periods of time as you can develop blisters.
  • As your shoes stretch, gradually increase the amount of time you wear them. Once they’re comfortable enough to wear for several hours at a time, they’re ready to take out of the house!
  • Lather up the boot with unscented lotion or leather balm before wearing them to speed up the process.
  • Repeat this process a few times if needed.
  1. Getting serious: heating boots with a hair dryer for a fast stretch.Put on those thick pair of socks, then force your feet into the boots. Set the hair dryer to medium heat and blow each shoe for about 30 seconds, moving the nozzle around as you do so. As the shoe heats up, try to move your foot and toes to help stretch the shoe. Continue wearing the shoes as they cool down.
  • Heat softens the leather, helping it shape to your foot. If needed, repeat this process a few times.

Replace the sole of your boots and make them new again!

Unlike most boots, Atitlan Leather’s Boot can have the soles replaced because they are made using the goodyear welt construction method!  Long story short, you’re able to remove the sole from the body of the boot and replace it. 

Below is an image of a pair of Atitlan Leather Boot without the slip resistance rubber sole, exposing the handcrafted leather sole.  After a lot of use and especially if used on concrete often, the rubber it will wear at the balls of your feet, and you will need to get it replaced eventually.  Even if you don’t get it fixed right away and create a hole in the leather sole you can get that replaced, too.  Just take your boots to your local cobbler and ask what kind of soles they have available.  They’ll be able to replace them for you and you’ll have another good couple of years left of your boots!    

Leather Boot without the slip resistance rubber sole

David Hagerty
David Hagerty

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