Nothing's worse than realizing that your favorite pair of leather boots is damaged or covered in grime, but do you know how to repair leather boots? Professional boot restoration can be expensive, but there are plenty of tips for DIY ways to fix up your boots at home. You'll only need to pick up a few supplies and follow some simple steps to skip the repair shop and avoid spending money on a new pair. Bring old leather shoes and boots back to life with our simple shoe care tutorial.
How to resole boots
It's one of leather shoes' most infamous problems: a sole comes loose from the body of the shoe and starts flapping around or wears through with holes. It feels like it should be a lot of work to fix, and like you should seek out a professional, but... how much to resole boots yourself?
Clean your boot, especially the area where the sole is pulling away, and make sure there's no grit between the sole and upper. You can use an old toothbrush to scrape out dirt from hard-to-clean cracks. Use sandpaper to smooth the part of sole you'll be attaching, then use a kitchen sponge to spread leather glue evenly over the sole (either the whole thing for a replacement or just the part you want to reattach) and the part of the upper you'll be attaching to. Let the glue dry into a thick consistency, about 5 minutes. Press the pieces together and use a few rubber bands or spare hair ties to press the sole and upper together and let dry for a few hours. You can double-secure the repair job with shoe hobnails.
How much does it cost to resole boots? If you take your boots in for shoe repair at a cobbler, it will probably cost between $80 and $150 to get your boots resoled. Do it at home to save a bit of cash.
How to fix scuffed leather boots
Leather boots are great because they're long-lasting: you don't want to ditch them just because of one little scuff. Learn how to fix scraped leather boots to keep them looking amazing for years to come. (Just make sure to clean your boots before any repairs!)
Buffing out light scuffs is easy. Just heat the area with a hair dryer set on low to make it more workable. Rub a clean cloth over the scuff in a circular motion to soften the edges and spread the dye from the surrounding area. If the scuff hasn't disappeared yet, apply petroleum jelly or color-matched leather balm (for particularly bad marks). Once the scuff is gone, seal your work with leather conditioner. Then, treat with our Balm Proofer™ Water and Stain Repellent for extra protection.
How to repair leather boots with cracks
Got some cracks in your leather? There are a few ways to repair your cracked leather boots, depending on how bad the cracks are.
Light, shallow cracks: Clean your shoes with a mild soap and a soft cloth. Apply leather conditioner to the cracks (make sure to test it for reactions on a hidden area of leather first!), using the back of a spoon to smooth down the cracks. Wipe away excess oil and let the product soak in overnight. If the cracks aren't gone in the morning, repeat the process.
Deep cracks: Clean your shoes with saddle soap, a lanolin-based leather cleaner, for a combo of cleaning and preserving power. Stuff your shoes with something to keep the leather stretched: we like rags or newspapers. Apply mink oil to the whole shoe to moisturize it, paying special attention to the cracks. Then use a shoe dauber to rub shoe cream polish into the cracks, using a circular motion. Buff your boots with a clean cloth.
Wide or large cracks: Use saddle soap or leather cleaner to get all the excess grit out of the cracks in your leather boots and let dry. With a 600-grit sandpaper, gently rub over cracked leather surfaces until they feel smooth when you touch them. Apply leather filler to your shoes with a broad, dull knife or spatula, and repeat until the cracks seem filled. Let dry as redirected, then repeat filling as needed if the leather filler shrinks. Sand the area flat and smooth, then spread on a thin layer of leather dye and dab with a sponge, letting dry and repeating until the color is satisfactory. Finish your leather repair job off with leather sealer.
Leather boots often crack because the boots are dry or dirty. To prevent further cracks, clean your boots regularly and treat them with leather conditioner. Protect them from sun damage with a UV leather treatment spray.
How to restore leather boots after dirty work
Work boots like our Women's TiTAN 6" Alloy Toe Work Boot are made to take on the worst, and that includes messes. But caked-on grime and dirt can damage your boots, besides not being great to look at.
Start by wiping off whatever dirt and grit will come off using a damp cloth. Break up deep grime with a water and vinegar mixture, using one tablespoon of white vinegar for every cup of water. Gently rub your boots with a cloth or paper towel soaked in the mixture. Make sure to pay special attention to the creases, where dirt can get trapped. After you've got the worst of it off, use saddle soap and a clean damp cloth to wipe away the rest of the mess and let the saddle soap dry. Then, treat with a leather conditioner and add our Balm Proofer™ Water and Stain Repellent on top to help prevent future stains.
Our Renewbuck™ Foaming Cleanser is gentle enough for suede and nubuck work boots.
Boot repair doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Use these hacks to keep your Timberlands (and other leather boots) going, even when they seem too damaged. While our leather restoration tips and tricks can help keep old boots out of the landfill, check out our other dedications to sustainability and responsible creation.