Cowboy boots may have fancy, decorative stitching of contrasting colors and designs on the shafts and foot. Further, decorative inlays made of leather or exotic skins may be added on boot pulls, boot toes, and even on the foot or shafts of boots to make a very attractive and creative boot design.
Boots of this nature should be preserved so the color of the threads in the stitching and the contrasting or complementary colors of the lizard or snakeskin inlays remain bright, and do not become dull with dirt, age, or wear.
If you usually care for cowboy boots by using traditional paste wax, you're not alone. However, any type of wax should not be used on boots made with exotic skins and/or that have inlays. Even neutral-colored wax is not appropriate for application on stitching thread or non-leather inlays. For stitching, the wax actually attracts dirt and dust like a magnet, which will make stitching become dull and dark. For lizard or snake inlays, wax can build up in the intricate scales that make the inlays so distinctive.
To keep fancy boots in their best shape, follow these suggestions:
1. Clean them off when you take them off: simply rub a damp cloth over them to remove surface dirt. It is amazing how much dirt gets onto boots by just wearing them. Taking time to remove the surface dirt every time you wear them will go a long way toward their long-term preservation.
2. Apply leather conditioning products, not wax. A leather conditioning product has emollients such as lanolin in it which are designed so it will not clog the small pores of leather, and adds moisture back to the leather to seal it and keep it from drying out.
3. Some leather conditioning products that are available on the U.S. market include:
Note: all leather conditioning products are toxic. Do NOT allow someone who likes to lick boots try to lick boots that have been treated with such toxic products.
|4. Skins such as crocodile, snake, and lizard are different from traditional cow or calf leather. Exotic skins have special membranes that keep the scales together. Because of these special membranes, the skins should be cleaned and conditioned more frequently than products made of traditional cow/calf leather, however the procedures are the same. Place a little bit of the leather conditioner onto a damp cloth or sponge and rub it onto the area to be treated using a circular motion. A little bit goes a long way. More is not better.|
5. After treating boots with the leather conditioning product, let them dry in a place with good ventilation but out of direct sunlight. They will be good to go again in a couple hours.
6. Never get the scales of lizard or snake wet. If the scales become wet, they will curl. The scales will not uncurl when they dry out.
7. Store all boots, but especially those made with exotic skins, in a cool, dry area with good ventilation. Shelves made of wire are best, but anywhere up off a floor is best. Keep boots away from direct sunlight, which can cause scales to dry and curl, and leather to fade.
8. Treat exotic skin boots with conditioner two to four times each year, depending on how frequently the boots are worn and if the boots are exposed to the elements – such as rain, snow, or dirt/mud/sand. The more the boots are worn and exposed to the elements, the more frequently they should be conditioned. Be careful not to “over-treat” boots with exotic skins. A little bit of conditioner goes a long way, and lasts a long time. In this situation, more is not better.