They are one of the biggest investments in a rider’s wardrobe, so it’s vital that you know how to clean riding boots to ensure they not only look smart, but last well too. Whether you have short riding boots or long ones, keeping them clean and supple is as important as proper care of your horse’s tack.
The gleaming riding boots the cavalry wear on parade are so shiny they look patent, but it takes the soldiers four hours. Thankfully, to keep your everyday riding boots in good condition should only take 15 minutes.
How to clean riding boots: step-by-step
Before getting going, gather together everything you need to clean your riding boots: a damp cloth and a couple of dry ones, and a soft-bristled brush (as you would use to polish shoes). To keep the leather in optimal condition, only use products designed for leather. Put together a boot-cleaning kit consisting of a leather cleaner, a leather conditioner and a leather polish. A useful extra is a waterproofing spray for additional protection against the elements. Resist the temptation to use household cleaners even when the boots are caked in mud and grease.
First, remove all the mud, dirt, grease and dust with the damp cloth. Use the brush to clean the zips on long riding boots or elastic parts of the short boots, and remove caked-on dirt from any stitching. For stronger action on more stubborn dirt, apply the leather cleaner.
Don’t forget the soles – you can usually remove the mud with a stiffer brush, then wipe with the damp cloth.
It’s important to clean dirt regularly from the boots because it can dry out the boot making them increasingly prone to the leather cracking or for the stitching to rot.
Now for the polish. Apply the cream or polish to clean, dry leather with a soft dry rag, avoiding the zips or elasticated parts. Give the leather a few minutes to absorb the cream. Then it’s time for the elbow grease to make the boots shine. Use another rag or a soft brush to buff the boots until they gleam.
If the zips are getting sticky, make sure you brush out any mud, dirt and debris. You can use the old housewives’ trick of rubbing a candle up and down the zip to improve its function, or use a specifically designed lubricant, such as Zipper-Ease.
Finally, always store your riding boots in boot trees to ensure they keep their shape. You can get short boot trees or long ones to suit. These prevent wrinkles in the boot, and also help the boot to dry out. Boot bags are great way to store boots, and they keep them safe from damage while travelling, too.
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