Your distressed leather cowboy boots need extra special care to keep them looking and feeling great for years. In this post, we’ll share our expert tips for looking after this particular type of leather and show you a genius way to store your cowboy boots. There is a distinct difference between distressed leather and other types of leather.

First, we’ll share some tips on how to figure out which leather you have because that will determine how you care for your boots. Take a look at your cowboy boots. If the leather is shiny and smooth to the touch, you’ve got what are called smooth leather boots. If, however, the leather on your boots is rough and/or pebbled when you touch it, you’ve got yourself a pair of distressed leather boots.

Still not sure?
Check out the manufacturer’s label or their website to find out.

The process of creating distressed leather is different in that oils are added throughout the tanning process. These oils bring out irregularities in the leather, so what you get is an imperfect, more rustic look. Distressed leather boots have a more aged, lived-in look, which is what gives them their nostalgic appeal. Smooth leather boots are usually finished off with a protective coating, which gives them that nice sheen. That last step is usually omitted with distressed leather. We’ll begin with the basics of distressed leather care, and then move on to treating stains, and finally the best way to store your boots!


This first step is the most basic, and also the most important because dirt, sand, and grime can break leather down and therefore do some serious damage over time. Use a brush to remove any and all dirt. You can purchase a boot brush or any variety of brushes with soft bristles.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the majority of dirt, use a cloth to wipe the boots thoroughly. Distressed leather has purposeful imperfections like creases and wrinkles, so make sure that no debris is stuck in those areas. If your boots have mud on them, you can use a slightly damp cloth to gently remove it. Don’t rub too hard, as you don’t want the dirt to get pushed into the leather. Make sure to flip your boots over and remove any debris that’s caught in the heel.


You’ll need a product that’s made specifically for distressed leather. Read the label to make sure, and to be super certain, do a small spot test to make sure that the conditioner doesn’t do something funky to the leather. Sometimes conditioners can turn the leather a strange color, or darken it so much that you no longer love the color of your boots. And no cowboy boot enthusiast wants that!

Once you’ve chosen the right conditioner, rub it evenly over the entire boot. Pay close attention to the spot where the leather hits the heel. If the leather gets too dry there, it may start to pull away from the heel. Same goes for any rivets and spots around the laces if your boots have them. Let the conditioner sit for a while. You’ll have to gauge if you need another coat depending on how quickly the leather soaks up the conditioner. If necessary, repeat this step. Once the conditioner stops getting absorbed into the leather, you’ll know that you’ve conditioned your boots sufficiently. Gently wipe away any excess conditioner.
Mink oil is also a good alternative for getting your distressed leather nicely moisturized.

You can also use a specially formulated wax on your distressed leather cowboy boots. Follow the product directions, and just as above, pay attention to how much wax is needed by seeing how fast it’s absorbed into the leather. These steps will ensure that the right amount of moisture is getting into the leather so that it stays nourished. That’ll make your boots feel and look amazing, AND make them last much longer. A word on using polish… Experts recommend against polishing distressed leather boots. Polish can substantially darken distressed leather, and if it’s not formulated exactly for distressed leather, it can damage the intrinsic properties of the material.


Distressed leather is similar to other leathers in that it’s a good idea to treat it to protect against water damage and other stains. But it’s even more crucial to do so to your distressed leather cowboy boots because they lack that final protective coating. Get a non-silicone water repellent that’s made for distressed leather, and do the treatment as recommended on the directions when you first get your boots home from the store. You should also repeat this treatment process each time you condition and/or wax your distressed leather boots.


If you’ve gotten your boots soaked in rain or snow, your first instinct might be to rub them dry.
Don’t! If you do this you may push the water deep into the leather. Instead, gently blot, and then let the boots dry naturally overnight.

As tempting as it may be to park them near a radiator to speed up that drying process, keep them away from any direct heat sources. Let the water evaporate on its own because that’ll cause the least amount of damage.
For salt stains, try blotting with an equal mixture of water and white vinegar. Again, don’t rub, as you don’t want to jam vinegar into the leather’s pores. Instead, continuously dab at the salt stains until they lift away.


For day-to-day storage, we highly recommend our Boot Butler boot rack. Distressed leather has a specific, lived-in look, but it’s one that’s been expertly crafted by the boot maker.  You certainly don’t want to add your own creases and wrinkles from the boots slouching about on your floor!

The Butler is also perfect for long-term storage in a closet where you keep seasonal items. With it’s easy to assemble, slender design, it only takes up the same width space as a few garments.

Of course, you can also wrap your boots in an old t-shirt or other cotton items, and store them in the box they came in. Give the boots a good conditioning before you store them so that they don’t dry out while not in use.

Boot Butler Hanging Boot Rack

Boot Butler keeps your cowboy boots looking new, providing efficient, accessible storage and clean organization.

Finally, keep in mind that, while we have focused on boots in this post, you can apply the same techniques to other products made out of distressed leather, from purses to sofas. Distressed leather is also often used on accessories such as belts, gloves and wallets, and clothing like leather vests and pants.

Check out our article on How to Care for Your Cowboy Boots for more tips and tricks for keeping your boots looking AMAZING all year long!