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How to Clean and Protect Winter Boots

BY: Editors | Nov 13, 2017

It's a familiar scenario: you invest in a brand new pair of leather or suede boots, only to recoil in horror the first time you trudge across a a slushy, salt-encrusted walkway. We're often so excited to don our new boots that we forget to take the necessary precautions to ensure they make it through the season intact. Luckily, they are some simple steps you can take to ensure your favorite winter boots become your favorite next winter boots as well.

To learn how to best care for boots, we turned to Gene Lyzun of Lyzun's Shoe Service in Downers Grove, IL. a 40-year veteran of the show maintenance business (Gene's father first opened the business in 1962), Gene has seen and helped thwart his fair share of footwear disasters, and gave us some helpful advice for making it through the cold-weather season.

How To Protect Your Boots

  1. Apply protectant regularly. And not just as the beginning of the season. You'll want to reapply protectant several times throughout the season. How often depends on weather conditions and the frequency with which you wear the shoes.
  2. Reapply protectant once every three to four weeks. Lyzun recommends this especially for shoes that are worn often, but don't be shy about applying protectant more regularly if the shoes are starting to look weather-beaten.
  3. Tackle stains as soon as they appear. "It's like with any other stain in carpeting or clothing," Gene said, meaning that the longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove any stains.
  4. Consider a conditioner. All boots, not just leather and suede, benefit from a protective conditioner, but it's especially important for boots soft materials (such as UGGs).

Click here to shop all leather conditioners and protectants.

How to Polish Leather Boots

  1. The cadence. If you're wearing leather dress shoes or boots three or four times a week, try and polish them once a week. If you're only wearing them about once a week, shoot for every two-and-a-half to three weeks.
  2. The product. Lyzun recommended using a paste of cream polish. "Liquid polish is definitely a no-no," he said. "I don't even sell any liquid polish. It just stays on top of leather, … doesn't soak too good into the pores."
  3. The process. In general, take your time. "Don't be in a hurry with polish," Lyzun said. After you apply the polish, wait 15–30 minutes so the polish can dry and penetrate into the material before using a brush or soft cloth to buff the shoes. Waiting will keep the polish from rubbing right back off when you go to buff the shoes and will also give them a long-lasting shine.

How to Remove Salt Stains From Boots

Our shoe pro Gene recommends the strongest protection available from salt stains: rubber overshoes. "It just makes common sense to go another step to protect your shoes," he said. "If you're going to invest that amount of money, care for it."

If you do get the dreaded salt stains and you need to know how to clean leather boots, try this popular internet remedy:

  1. Mix one cup cool water with one tablespoon distilled white vinegar.
  2. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and wipe over leather boots to dissolve stains.
  3. To finish, buff the treated areas with a clean, white cotton cloth.

This article was originally written by Groupon staff writer Rachel Matuch in 2013. It has since been updated.