How to Care for Leather Boots Ruined by Snow

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Stylish leather boots are not the best choice for trudging through snow.
Stylish leather boots are not the best choice for trudging through snow. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Leather boots keep your feet warm in chilly winter weather, but the material's natural porousness means they absorb moisture from snow and sleet. Although you can treat leather with water-resistant spray, you still should keep your leather boots as dry as possible. Too much moisture from exposure to snow can ruin the leather on your boots by discoloring the areas that got wet -- and salt can stain them, too. You can breathe new life into leather boots and make them wearable again by evening out the color to reduce the appearance of damage from snow.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Newspaper
  • Bucket
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • Natural-bristle scrub brush
  • Clean cloths
  • Leather conditioning oil

Set your wet, snow-damaged leather boots on a towel, away from direct heat sources. Stuff the insides with newspaper to absorb moisture and hold the shape as the boots dry. Allow the leather to air-dry completely.

Crumpled newspaper keeps boots standing tall as they dry.
Crumpled newspaper keeps boots standing tall as they dry. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Remove and discard the newspaper.

Mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar in a bucket with 1 cup of water. Wet a natural-bristle scrub brush with the solution, allowing the excess moisture to drip back into the bucket.

Scrub the entire leather surface to ensure even color when the boots dry. The leather should be wet but not soaking wet when you scrub it. Apply more vinegar solution as needed to clean and neutralize the snow damage on the leather.

A soft brush cleans leather without scratching it.
A soft brush cleans leather without scratching it. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Wipe the boots with a clean cloth to remove moisture from the surface. Crumple newspaper and fill the boots again to prepare them for drying. Allow the leather boots to air-dry.

Replenish lost moisture and counteract stiffness in the leather by rubbing leather conditioning oil into the surface. Pour a quarter-size amount of oil onto a clean cloth. Buff the leather, applying more oil as needed to moisturize the entire surface.

Allow the leather conditioning oil to soak into the leather for one hour. If the leather boots still look dry and feel stiff, repeat Steps 6 and 7 until the leather feels soft and pliable without being greasy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save your leather boots for dry weather. Wear rubber or other water-resistant boots when walking through snow, sleet or rain.
  • When your boots get wet, dry the leather as quickly as possible to avoid absorption of moisture. Use cloths or paper towels, but never put your leather boots near the heater, as the heat can cause the leather to dry out.

References

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