How to clean and protect winter boots

Winter and boots go hand in hand, but at the same time nothing harms fine leather footwear more than snow and salt. Before you head out into the elements there are a few things you should know in order to keep your boots looking great for years to come.

Caring for your boots is composed of 3 main areas

Prevention steps

Ben Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. That certainly holds true when it comes to taking care of your boots in the winter. Follow these steps to get your boots ready for the season:

Note: You should always avoid slush and ice as much as possible. If you know you will be subjecting your boots to these conditions then we recommend that you protect them with a pair of our Swims Classic Overshoes.

  1. Remove the laces

    The very first thing you should do is remove the laces from your boots, this will allow you get at the hard to reach places where dirt and grime tends to collect. It will also prevent the cleaning agents from collecting on the laces.

  2. Clean your boots

    Clean your boots with a slightly damp, soft cloth. A small amount of moisture in the rag helps prepare the leather to accept the conditioning. Eliminate any excess dirt and debris.

  3. Saddle Soap

    On casual and distressed leather boots like the Normandy, Higgins Mill or Long Branch, saddle soap can be used for initial cleaning prior to the use of a conditioner. To use, work a small amount of soap into a lather with a soft damp cloth and apply to the boot in a circular motion.

  4. Applying Leather Lotion

    To keep the leather soft and supple, begin by applying Allen Edmonds Leather Lotion. Work the conditioner over the entire upper part of the boot. To apply a single even coat, use a small amount of lotion, about the size of a dime, and work it into the leather in a circular motion. Continue until the entire upper has received an even coat.

    Tip: To remove any remaining conditioner in the perforations without scratching the leather, use a soft cloth over the tip of a paper clip.

  5. Carnauba Wax
    1. Carnauba wax is recommended for dress styles boots like the Dalton, First Avenue and the Liverpool (except suede). This wax works best with vegetable tanned calfskin leather. To achieve the high polish shine desired for dress styles, apply an even coat of Allen Edmonds Carnauba Shoe Polish to the boot's upper.
    2. Buff with a soft cloth or horsehair brush to produce the desired finish.
    3. To help keep water and cold air out, apply generously along any stitching and the seam where the upper meets the sole but remember, nothing will make a fine leather boot completely waterproof.
    4. To protect suede and nubuck boots apply Allen Edmonds specially designed spray.


No matter how careful you are your boots will probably get wet and salt stained at some point. Never fear, with proper care, most of the season's unwanted gifts can be repaired without too much difficulty. When it comes to boot leather troubles, winter weather has two main culprits, moisture and salt. Each has its own remedy:


Let them dry naturally at room temperature. To aid the process, stuff the shoes with newspaper which will absorb some of the moisture. While they are still wet, do not use cedar shoe trees as they are not designed to absorb excessive amounts of moisture. Once they are nearly dry, condition and protect the leather following the steps under Prevention. When dry, insert cedar shoe trees.

Salt Stains

Apart from leaving an unsightly white stain, salt damages the leather by stripping it of its moisture. To remove the stain, the boots should be cleaned immediately with a slightly damp cloth. Let them dry. Sometimes that is enough to remove the stain. If so, then condition and protect the leather following the steps under Prevention. To get out tough salt stains apply Allen Edmonds Salt and Stain Remover.


When the season ends and it's time to trade in the boots for a pair of loafers, make sure you store them properly to guarantee they'll look great when winter rolls around again next year. For best results first clean and polish your boots as mentioned under Prevention.

Shoe Trees

Next, place a pair of cedar shoe trees in your boots which will naturally absorb moisture and keep the shape of your boots. To keep them dust-free put the boots in cotton flannel bags. If space is a concern you can keep them out of your way throughout the summer with an Allen Edmonds cedar shoe rack.

Finally the boots should be kept in a cool, dry place protected from summer's heat and humidity.