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How to Clean Cowboy Boots (5 Ways)

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No doubt you are proud of your cowboy boots as they give you the confidence to keep moving even in the unlikeliest of places.

After a day of hard work, you might look at your boots and see dust and dirt all over them.

How can you clean the boots so that they can stay beautiful and shiny?

Read this article to learn five ways of cleaning your cowboy boots.

Pair of cowboy boots outside barn

How to Clean Cowboy Boots

Note that the method to clean the boots depends on the materials used to make the boots. Here are some ways to clean your cowboy boots:

1. First Identify the Type of Boot Materials

There are several materials used to make cowboy boots. If the boots are made of leather, there are still diverse types of leather. Before you start cleaning your boots using an assortment of products, you must first know what they are made of. The material used to make the boots will determine what you clean them with and how you clean them.

You can check the label or package of the boots to learn the material used. Also, you can get useful cleaning tips from the package.

2. Gather the Necessary Materials

Depending on the type of boots, here are some things that you might need:

  • Every type of boot: It does not matter what type of boot that you have, you should have a brush such as a toothbrush to clean off sticky mud and dirt.
  • Regular leather boot: You will need a horsetail brush, conditioner, polish, and a cloth. Leather boots should not get wet so that they do not go bad.
  • Suede boot: You can apply a damp cloth on suedes, so you will need water, a cloth, a brush, and polish if necessary.

After gathering everything that you need, it is time to start cleaning the boots.

3.  Remove Dirt and Mud From the Boots

Cowboy with mud dirty boots

After a hard day’s work, you will surely see every type of mud, dust, and dirt on your boot. While some can brush off easily, others are stubborn and need extra care to remove them.

The first thing to do is to remove as much mud and dirt as you can by using a toothbrush or any hard brush. After that, make use of a damp cloth to remove the dust from the surface of the boot if it is suede.

For leather boots, you can remove the dust by using a dry horsetail brush. There are more steps you will need to take before your boots become clean.

4. Make Use of Soap and Water for Stubborn Dirt

Some dirt can be so stubborn that even if you use a hard brush, it will not leave your boot. If your boots have those types of dirt, you should dampen the dirt a little with soapy water.

If the boot is a leather boot, be careful to ensure that the water stays around the dirt and does not flow to other parts of the boot.

Within 5-10 minutes time, the dirt should be soft. When the dirt is soft, you can make use of the toothbrush or any other hard brush to remove it. Aside from soapy water, other products that you can use to soften dirt are:

  • Baking soda mixed with water
  • Vinegar
  • Alcohol

Remember that the liquid should not flow to other parts of the boot.

5. Condition and Polish the Leather Boots

man cleaning the shoes

When your boot is free from dust and dirt, you are almost done with the cleaning process. If it is a leather boot, the next step is to remoisturize the boot. This can be done by conditioning it and making it more beautiful and shinier by polishing it. You should condition the boot first and leave the boot in the sun. Wait a few minutes and then polish the boots.

Conditioning is not always important, especially if the boot is new or it has not been a long time since you last conditioned it. However, it is good practice to regularly condition your leather boots as it helps them to last longer.

Continue reading to learn how to maintain your cowboy boots.

Tips for Maintaining Your Cowboy Boots

Here are some useful tips to maintain your cowboy boots:

1. Ensure That the Boots Are Always Dry

Boots that get wet ruin quickly, so you want to keep your boots dry. Do not use boots to walk on wet terrains unless you need to.

Also, if you walk in wet or flooded places, always wait until the boot is dry before you use it again. Just make sure that you do not walk with wet boots.

2. Examine the Boots for Holes and Tears

Person standing against iron gate wearing dirty worn-in jeans and cowboy boots.

Before cleaning the boots, you want to check them for tears and holes. Check if there is any part that is peeling off the boot.

If there are holes, you need to repair the boot first so that it does not go completely bad. If the boot is free from peeling, holes, and tears, you can proceed with the cleaning.

3. Have Multiple Boots

To help a boot last longer, you need to have multiple boots so that you do not need to wear the same pair over and over again. You should have two or three so that two can rest while you work with the third one. Your boots can be of different materials and colors just in case you want to be fashionable.

Related Questions and Answers

Got any extra questions? Here’s your answer:

1. Can Cowboy Boots Get Wet?

Your suede boots can get exposed to a minor level of moisture, but you should never expose them for long. Regular leather boots can quickly go bad when they are wet because water spoils the quality of leather.

So, it is best that you do not get your leather boots wet. Ensure that it is really important if you need to use them in wet environments.

If you must clean your boots with a wet rag, ensure to keep the boots in the sun until they are completely dry before you take them indoors. Also, wait until your boots are dry before you wear them again so that they do not spoil quickly.

One wet cowboy boot stepping on the water in the mountains

2. What Is the Difference Between Conditioning and Polishing Leather?

Here are some differences between conditioning and polishing leather:

  • Usage: The use of conditioners is to maintain the quality of your leather as conditioners can penetrate the pores of the leather and act as a repairing agent. The use of polish is to shine the leather so that it is more beautiful on the outside. Polish also helps to keep the conditioner in the leather.
  • Application: You apply conditioner to the boot first before you polish it. If you polish first, you can no longer apply the conditioner because the polish will block the leather pores.
  • How often you use them: You can polish your boots as often as you want to. As for conditioning, do so every two or three times that you polish the leather.

Now you know the difference, right?

3. Why Is Mold Growing On Your Boots?

Mold will grow on your boots when you expose the boots to moisture for a long time. Also, if you do not clean your boots, mold will grow on the surface.

Another reason is when you wear wet socks and fail to clean the boots afterward. Mold signifies that there are fungi trying to decompose the boot.

It is especially important that your boots stay dry. Furthermore, ensure that you condition and polish the boots (if they are leather) so that fungi cannot penetrate the pores of the boots. You can remove the mold with a brush but remember to polish the shoes afterward.

4. Can You Use Petroleum Jelly to Polish Cowboy Boots?

dry hands holding a petroleum jelly tub, finger scooping the petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly is a great and readily available product useful for polishing boots. While this product does not have as many properties to maintain the quality of boots as regular polish does, you are sure to get shiny shoes if you use petroleum jelly.

This product also dries quickly from the boots. So, you will likely have to polish your boots more frequently if you use petroleum jelly than with regular polish.

If you run out of polish and you need to shine your boots immediately, you can make use of petroleum jelly to shine the boots.

5. How Often Should You Clean Your Boots?

It depends on how often you make use of the boots. If you go out often and always make use of the same pair, you may clean the boots weekly or even two times per week. However, if you do not use the boots often, you may clean them monthly or once every two months.

Have you found the answer to your question? Congratulations!


Cowboy boots are easy to clean. You first of all should determine the type of boot and then gather everything that you’ll need. When cleaning your boots, especially those made of leather, remember to limit your use of water in the cleaning process so that you do not spoil them while cleaning them.