How to Polish, Clean, and Restore Leather Boots for Resale



If you follow our blog you’ll know that we have a penchant for buying boots off eBay, polishing them up a bit, and flipping them for a huge profit!  The leather boots shown above are the literal same pair of boots.  Not just the same model, but the picture on the left shows the listing from which I purchased the boots for $2.25.  With 20 mins of elbow grease and better picturing I turned around and sold them for $59.95 + shipping!  In this post we’ll show you how to clean your leather boots and get top dollar for them!

Will this met work for my boots?
Well, that depends on the leather. This tutorial is meant for smooth leathers.  If the leather on your shoes/boots has a fuzzy feel to it it is likely either suede (pretty much inside out leather) or nubuck (leather sanded to a velvety feel).  For these leathers you need specific cleaning and you should not use anything oil based or even wet.


For this how-to I picked up a pair of leather/gore-tex Timberland boots for $9.99 at my local Savers.  (If I was smart I would have donated some non-selling duds and gotten a 30% off but I was in a hurry to share this with you…)

Not too shabby but definitely nothing to write home about.  If these boots aren’t screaming CLEAN ME! to you then you’re probably in the wrong line of business.  So let’s see what we can do to make these shine…


For this project, you’ll need to purchase two products, a cleaner and a conditioner.  We used the following two products because they are cheap and get the job done!  Are there better products out there?  Definitely!  But our purpose here is to clean the boots, do it quickly, and maintain our profits.  You can probably find both of these products at your local grocery store..or you can click the pictures below to buy through us so we can keep the lights on around here! 🙂

If you’re really bringing some leather back from the dead (we’re talking restoring leather boots that are cracking or dried up) then you need to also pick up some form of leather lotion such as (my favorite) Leather Honey.  It will restore the moisture in anything from couches to handbags.  Get it here.


Before you break open the saddle soap, you’ll need to get the majority of the dirt off the boots.  This can be accomplished with either a stiff brush or with water.  For this pair, we knocked off what dirt we could with a stiff brush and then washed the boots in the tub.  This removed 99% of the dirt but just be aware that if you follow this route you’ll have to wait until the boots completely dry before conditioning them.


Saddle Soap is a traditional blend of ingredients which cleans, softens and preserves smooth leather. It contains a fine soap to thoroughly clean away dirt, grime, and even salt stains!

Once your boots are no longer covered with any major grim, take a damp rag, rub some soap onto it, and start rubbing the soap onto your boots!  (We’ve found that a circular motion works best).  After working it over the surface of the boot, wipe it off with a clean damp rag and repeat as necessary.  

When finished with the whole boot, give the boots a good wipe down and then let them sit and dry.  After they’re dry, you can buff them with a soft dry rag.  This is optional but we’ve found that it results in a great shine at the end!


Conditioning Oil contains a rich blend of conditioners that nourish and waterproof smooth leather.  Be aware before you start that if you’re conditioning a very light leather, oiling it may cause darkening.  Not a problem for us here so let’s move on!

If your boots are clean and dry, get a dab of conditioning oil on a rag and wipe a thin coat onto a small working area.  This part takes a bit of patience.  Work the oil into to boot, focusing on seams and creases.  Make sure to wipe off the excess as you go.

Amazing right?  Of course it is!  Just a bit of oil returns the leather to its natural color and luster.  Check our the toes of the boots on the right..

Tip:  Make sure the boots are unlaced to you can get conditioner on the tongue and into every corner of the boot.  Be thorough!  After you have wiped off the excess, let the boots sit for a day or two during which time the color will equalize.  Conditioning can sometimes leave dark spots or unequal color between the boots but some time drying has always solved this problem for us!


Take a minute to step back and admire your fully restored leather boots!  Then get those boots stuffed, take some pictures, and list on eBay!  Although there is no way to know for sure, our cleaning definitely increased the value of these boots at least $20.  How long do you usually spend cleaning boots?

​We can tell you that prepping items is very important for eBay.  If you’re an eBay seller you know by now that looks sell.  If you’re a model, then by all means wear the boots and watch your sales take off.  For the rest of us, we’re relegated to saddle soap and conditioning oil.  Thanks for reading and keep working hard!

***Update*** These boots ended up selling for $79.95 + shipping.  Not bad for a $10 investment and a little elbow grease!

Leave a Comment