The Facts About Cowboy Boot Care and Storage

  • Sumo

Cowboy boots: Always stylish, always fun. To keep them at their best — and thus you looking your best in them — follow these tips.

Leather Boots

When New: Apply a waterproofing spray before you wear them. Let the spray dry, then reapply and let it dry again. (If you’ve skipped this part and want to get rid of existing water stains, use a simple solution with equal parts water and white vinegar solution to gently rub away the stains. Once the boots have dried, do a couple rounds of waterproofing spray before you wear them again.)

To Clean and Shine: Get rid of loose dirt with a rag or brush. Rub in a leather conditioner or cream with a cotton cloth (or one made with natural fibers). Follow the directions on the bottle on how long to let the product set, then gently buff.

For an extra shine, rub a neutral shoe cream into the leather till it shines.

Suede Boots

When New: Apply a waterproofing spray just like with leather boots, but make sure that spray is non-silicone.

To Clean: To get rid of loose dirt, use a nylon brush. Avoid leather conditioners on suede as these may discolor the leather. You’ll also want to avoid mud and lots of water, as these can discolor the suede and the stains may prove challenging to remove.

Suede Boots

Patent Leather

When New: These can be worn straight out of the box.

To Clean: Use a soft, damp cotton cloth to get rid of dirt or mud. Once the leather is dry, buff it with a dry cloth.

Oil-Impregnated Leather

When New: No need for a waterproofing spray straight out of the box as this type of leather is meant to do exactly that.

To Clean: Oil-impregnated leather has extra oils added in the tanning process. But these oils do evaporate over time, so you’ll need to regularly apply thick coats of leather conditioner or leather oil. If your boots get soaked in water or snow, wipe off excess moisture as soon as possible and apply a heavy layer of product. Let the boots dry naturally, taking care to avoid artificial heat sources.

Exotic Leather

When New: Use a non-silicone waterproofing spray if desired.

To Clean: Brush away loose dirt with a rag. You’ll need a leather conditioner specifically designed for exotic leather; use thin layers and follow the product directions. This leather will need frequent conditioning. Once the conditioner is dry, you can add an extra sheen with a neutral cream polish.


Now it’s time to figure out the challenge of boot storage.

One option is boxes, which can work if you have a lot of closet space. Make sure you keep the insides of the boxes clean and well-ventilated so that your boots don’t come out of them dirty and unfresh.

If you’re looking to maximize closet space, and have your cowboy boots be more accessible, consider a hanging boot rack. You’ll save a bunch of space, and your boots will be better cared for. A good boot rack will support your boots in such a way that the shaft remains erect and open. That’s best for the material, and allows for air to circulate throughout the boot — an important feature if you’ve been wearing them or riding in them all day.

Choose a model that is sturdy and well-made to support the weight of your boots.