How to clean leather boots with salt stains? They aren’t suede. They’re bull hide.
Maxine Ward, Columbus, OH
The simplest method for how to clean leather boots uses water and vinegar. Combine two parts water with one part white vinegar and use a soft cloth to wipe the leather with this mixture until the salt stains disappear. Wipe it dry with a clean, soft cloth. Once the boots are completely dry, be sure to apply a leather conditioner.
As a bonus, you can also use vinegar and water on the interior as one of the ways to stretch leather boots so they fit you better. Always spray the inside rather than the outside to prevent damage to your boots.
It’s not unusual to get grease and oil stains on leather work boots. Cleaning oil off leather boots and shoes is just as easy. Sprinkle the spots with baking soda, baby powder, or cornstarch. Gently massage the powder into the surface, then let it sit overnight. It should absorb the oil so that you can wipe off the residue in the morning. Reapply powder if needed.
Add a few sprinkles of baking soda to the interior of your boots to eliminate sweat odor. Allow it to sit for several hours and dump it out. You could also add baking soda to an old sock and place the sock in your shoes overnight for the same effect.
The same vinegar and water solution I mentioned for removing salt stains from shoes also removes water stains from leather. Moreover, scuffs are easy to remove if you rub a tiny amount of white toothpaste into the mark with a soft cloth.
If you have linseed oil on hand, you can make your own leather cleaner. Mix two parts of linseed oil with one part white vinegar and put it in a resealable bottle or container. Spread that on finished leather and let it work for twenty minutes. Use an old soft cloth to buff the surface to a nice shine.
Also, lemon juice and cream of tartar work well to clean finished leather and get rid of many different kinds of stains. Again, finish up with a leather conditioner to protect against wet weather and dirt.
Should you ever need to clean suede leather and get salt off suede boots, use a suede brush or an eraser. Using a lot of liquids on suede often has disastrous effects, but a light sprinkle of water and a suede brush can get rid of water stains easily.
For more tips and other ways to clean leather see our leather shoe cleaning page here.