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How to care for your cowboy boots

Cowboy boots are generally not overly difficult to care for. Wipe off all mud immediately while still damp and sponge off dry dust with a damp cloth. Allow them to dry naturally to avoid dehydrating the leather, and keep well away from radiators. Saddle soap can be used to help restore a very dry boot, but should otherwise be avoided, as it can spoil the finish. The same can be said for hard wax polish; shoe cream or leather conditioner is preferred. With age the foot part of the boot will most probably scuff and fade (compared to the decorated shaft). This is normal and to some extent seen as a ‘badge of pride’.

The relative expense of cowboy boots is difficult to pinpoint as, such as with other shoe-types, price depends on the grade of the particular brand, be it high end or budget. Price also varies according to whether any, or all parts of the boot, are hand made. A middle-of-the-road pair of cowboy boots might cost around $200.00, whilst it is not unusual to see them advertised for $2000.00.

Cowhide cowboy boots are strong, sturdy, and wear extremely well. They are smooth to the touch yet perhaps the toughest of all the boots, and usually dark brown or black. To care for cowhide leather, brush off loose dirt or dust, then clean using an approved leather conditioner. Remove loose dirt or dust with a brush, clean thoroughly with leather conditioner or balm, apply thin coat of matching colour shoe cream, then brush cream into leather and buff with a soft cloth until lustre is obtained.

Roughout or suede cowboy boots are also very durable yet feel softer to the touch. They are often sold in pale brown or tan shades. To care for them you should ensure your boots are kept away from mud. Clean with a nylon brush, and treat often with a stain protector.

Alligator skin cowboy boots are can be dyed to suit the wearer. Dark colours are usually preferred. To keep them in good condition remove loose dirt or dust with brush or rag, apply Reptile Conditioner with a soft cloth, let them dry and then buff the leather, followed by thin coats of conditioner as often as needed.

Ostrich cowboy boots have a unique grain, especially full quill. Smooth ostrich leather has reduced indent contents and thus is far more fluid to the touch. Both forms of this leather are very strong and versatile. The skin is soft, conforms well to the foot, and feels luxurious on the feet. Care for this leather as you would alligator skin.

Snakeskin cowboy boots are somewhat smoother and more delicate to the touch. To keep them healthy you should wipe against the scales to remove dirt and dust. Apply a coating of matching cream polish - ensuring that you polish with the grain of the scales. Apply reptile conditioner with soft cloth with the grain of scales. The yellowing of snakeskin is a by-product of exposure to the sun and the age of boots, and can not be reversed by cleaning products.

Matte Python has the same unique markings as glazed python but is filled with oil or wax for a softer hand. Some colours are bleached first to take out the markings. A matte finish give skin supple glove feel. Python Snake leather also has unique markings and scales, and is a subspecies of python from Asia. Subspecies with faint markings are bleached back or bellycut.

Other "exotic" leather cowboy boots (such as elephant, lizard) are cared for by brushing off loose dirt or dust, then cleaning with a leather conditioner. Afterwards, apply a thin coating of matching wax polish then buff with a soft cloth.

Generally speaking, cowboy boots are most expensive when made from rare, exotic materials such as elephant and lizard skins. Prices remain high for those boots made from snakeskin, ostrich leather, and alligator skin, especially compared to the more economical cowhide or rough out leathers. Their superior popularity is most probably influenced by their lower prices (often hundreds of US dollars cheaper) and by the ease with which they can be found and purchased.


Boots by Sheplers

Cowboy Boots are an American icon but have there roots in Britain and Germany. Read more about the history of cowboy boots here.

What's a roper, packer or a lacer? Learn all about the different styles of cowboy boots here.

What are your cowboy boots made of? Is it leather, alligator or even exotic ostrich? Regardless of the type of material, read more about how to care for your cowboy boots

Not sure what you are looking for in a cowboy boot? Click here for tips on buying cowboy boots.

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