August 12, 2012

Leather Cleaning

I'm a leather tack addict.  I love the entire process of caring for leather, love how it can be renewed and revived, and of course, I love the smell and the look.  My Ariat paddock boots are a prime example of why good leather can last forever, I can shine them up to where they look brand new, but broken in, after six years of constant use, thanks to a roughly quarterly regiment of cleaning, polishing and mink-oiling.  Synthetics have their place, but not in my tack trunk. 

Despite loving tack cleaning, I haven't always been the best about tack conditioning.  Because my "temporary" $35 cheapo bridle is not the best quality to begin with, my stirrup leathers from the early 90's are about the same quality as the bridle, and my beloved saddle needs a lot of TLC if I'm going to keep it going, conditioning needs to be more of a priority for me.

The scene of the crime, after I was finished.  All of my tack is either handed down, or was purchased used on eBay.
My usual routine for anything but shoes involves cleaning, but not conditioning.  In the past, before I became a lazy tack owner, I let the leather tell me when it needed conditioned rather than doing it on a schedule so that it didn't get overconditioned.  Last week, I purchased neatsfoot oil for the first time since college, and boy, did it make a difference when used prior to the lederbalsam I typically use.  It's not something to use on a regular basis, but my tack was calling 911 and begging for some moisture.

My tack cleaning and conditioning routine isn't anything special, but I've carefully crafted and perfected my routine for paddock boots and tall boots over the past six years, based on research and talking to military folks. 

Paddock and Tall Boots Cleaning Routine
1. Soap-free clean with just water to remove mud and dirt
2. Shoe polish in coordinating color, applied with soft applicator in circular motion, without pressing down
3. Buff with buffing cloth
4. Buff with pantyhose (for that extra deep shine, especially great for tall boots)
5. Waterproof with mink oil, brush applicator (paddock boots only, typically)
6. Let dry overnight in a warm room
7. Buff with buffing cloth
8. Buff with pantyhose

Does your routine differ?  Are you like my good friend Mary who'd just rather replace the boots than keep up the maintenance?  If you are, I offer free boot cleaning services...


  1. Mine looks like:
    Wipe boots with wet towel
    Show polish
    Buff with brush
    Have hubby look them over to make sure he doesn't see anything i missed :)

  2. using soft bristle shoe brushes, saddle soap to cleanthe shoes and caring the out soles of your shoes from damages caused due to rough surfaces will also increase the life of your work shoes.

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