Boots that are properly cared for last many years.

How to Moisturize Old Leather Boots

by Melissa King

Leather boots are naturally tough and can often withstand the rain, dirt, snow and hot sun. However, your leather boots may look tired and dry after years of wear. To prevent your favorite leather boots from withering away, carefully wipe and then apply conditioner to regain soft and supple leather. With regular cleaning and conditioning like this, both you and your boots will be back in action!

Wipe loose dirt off of your boots before conditioning them. If the dirt is dried or caked on, dampen a towel with lukewarm water and wipe it away. A stiff bristle brush also works for removing stubborn debris. Never scrub your boots, as doing so will only rub dirt deeper into the leather.

Remove the laces from your boots so they don't get stained while conditioning.

Allow the boots to air dry completely before conditioning. Don't use heat to dry your boots; it may cause the leather to dry out too much.

Put a nickel-size amount of lanolin-based leather conditioner onto either a sponge or cloth.

Rub conditioner on each boot with the sponge or cloth. Apply the conditioner to all leather surfaces. If the boots still look dry after one application, rub some more conditioner into the leather. The conditioner will soak into the boot as you apply it. Stop applying the conditioner when the leather's surface feels damp.

Allow the conditioner to soak into the boots overnight. If the boots still feel dry, apply another layer of conditioner and let it soak in again.

Wipe any excess conditioner off the boots with a towel.

Apply a dab of leather polish to the boots, if desired. Use a soft cloth to buff the boots until the leather looks shiny. This is an extra protective step that will help prevent further damage to the leather.

Items you will need

  • Towels
  • Bristle brush (optional)
  • Lanolin-based leather conditioner


  • If your boots get soaking wet, stuff them with pieces of crumpled newspaper. The newspaper will absorb the water and help the boots dry faster.
  • Waterproofing products designed for use on leather will protect boots from moisture damage.


  • Don't use wax-based conditioners, as they can make leather look dull. You should also avoid oil-based conditioners, such as those made with mink or other animal oils. Oil-based conditioners darken leather and attract dirt. The oil can also go rancid and attract bacteria.
  • Conditioners may darken light-colored leather.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images