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BASIC BOOTBLACKING TIPS FOR LEATHER FOOTWEAR

First, you need to know what type of material you have. To keep things simple, we are going to break the leather down into 3 categories: Oil Tanned Leather, Polished Leather and Exotic Skins. If you aren't sure what you have, please check with a knowledgeable person first.

OIL TAN

For the most part, this type of leather is generally easy to clean. For basic cleaning, you can use your soap of choice as long as it is labeled specifically for leather cleaning. Some of the more popular brands are Lexol Soap or Saddle Soap.

Remove laces if there are any and wipe off excess dust. Make sure to clean out the tongue area. Clean boot well, using water and soap. Thoroughly wet the boot and apply soap. Using a wet cloth (or use your hand, whichever feels more comfortable to you), loosen the dirt. And with a semi-wet cloth, wipe away the dirt and soap from the boot. It is very important to make sure the boot is wiped clean.

After cleaning, you will need to apply a good leather conditioner. Some favorites of bootblacks are Huberd's Shoe Grease, Chelsea Leather Food or Lexol Conditioner. Apply a thin layer on the leather, wipe off any eyelets or metal on the boot.

If required, a Heel and Sole Edge can be used for a finishing touch. Do not use this on rubber soles. Kiss boot and you're done.

Some people prefer to apply polish to their oil tanned boots or shoes. If this is desired, several layers of polish generally need to be applied. See the next section on polishing instructions. If you polish oil tan boots, you can either skip the conditioner stage or wait a couple days before polishing. Keep in mind, it is possible to turn an oil tan boot into a polished boot but it is not possible to turn a polished leather boot into an oil tan boot.

POLISHED LEATHER

Follow the same instructions as above except for the conditioner. After a good cleaning, use your hands or a good horse hair polish brush to apply an even layer of polish (match color of polish to color of leather or use a clear polish for unusual colored leather) across the leather. Be sure to pay close attention to any creases or scratches. Fill them in with a thicker layer of polish.. It's not a big deal if you get polish on any metal items but keep it away from any different colored stitching. If you happen to get polish on stitching, remove it immediately with a clean toothbrush and some soap and water.

There are many different polishes that can be used such as Kiwi, Angeles or Meltonian. Please do not buy cheap polish from dollar stores!

After polish has been applied, use a good horse hair shine brush and brush the polish into a nice shine. To bring out a better shine, there are many different opinions on what is best. Some use old stockings, cotton cloths (old cotton t-shirts cut up) or soft buffing cloths. Whatever you choose, make sure it is lint-free cotton. You don't suddenly want to have to pick fuzz off of your boots. Clean off any eyelets or metal pieces and replace laces if there are any. Kiss boot and you're done.

EXOTIC SKINS

Until we are able to find the time, please refer towww.FantasiesInLeather.com for several different types of exotic skins.

©The Leather Girls