5 Easy Steps to Clean & Polish Horse Riding Boots

How to polish riding boots?

As a horse rider, knowing how to clean riding boots is a skill you don’t want to skip.

Leather riding boots are not well designed to deal with mud and grime from various surfaces, so you need to know the specific tricks necessary to keep them clean.

Proper care not only makes you presentable but also helps the boots last longer in equestrain gear cleaning.

a shiny and polished black leather riding boot

I put together this detailed guide on how to clean leather horse riding boots, so you can get it right the first time.

How to Clean Horse Riding Boots (Step-by-Step)

How to Clean Muddy Cowboy Boots     

Remember, your riding boots are often made out of fine leather, which is relatively delicate compared to the leather used to make saddles.

That means that you need to care for them and give them the TLC they deserve.

Regular soaps, detergents, or any other cleaning agents with harsh chemicals aren’t suitable for riding boots’ leather. Plus boots are expensive, you don’t want to wreck them with the wrong cleaner!

First, here’s my must-have list of supplies for how to clean riding boots quickly:

  • water, a sponge or rag
  • paper towels or an old clean cloth
  • boot polish
  • Leather care products such as Leather cleaner, leather conditioner, or castile soap
  • boot brush
  • bucket of warm water.

Step 1: Fill the bucket or large bowl with water.

I prefer lukewarm water.

Step 2: Add the boot cleaner or castile soap.

I find the best way is to gently massage onto the boot in a circular motion with a damp sponge. Or, apply some leather conditioner on the boot to make it easier to clean without damaging the leather.

Step 3: Dip the old towel or soft cloth in the water.

Use it to wipe off the mud, dirt, and sweat on the entire boot.

Be careful not to soak the tall boots. Also, don’t forget to get in between the stitching and the zipper, as this is where the mud will be most likely trapped.

I like to use a boot brush to gently get rid of dirt or hair in these two sections. My tip is to use a toothbrush to reach those hard to get at crevices.

Step 4: If the boot has a lot of mud, especially on the soles, wait for it to dry first.

Then bang the soles together to get rid of it.

Step 5: Use dry towel.

I always use a dry towel when I’m finished cleaning to remove any excess water, which is damaging to the leather.

Pay attention to stubborn dirt, especially in women’s horse riding boots that have a taller heel. Once you’re confident you’ve removed all the mud, clean with a damp cloth as described above.

How to Polish Horse Riding Boots

Polishing is another way to clean riding boots, and it gives a different kind of shine. Here are some easy steps you can follow:

Step 1: Soak a cloth in lukewarm water.

Step 2: Wipe off the mud, dirt, and sweat.

Step 3: Let the boots dry.

Next, you’re going to want some boot polish and a clean towel.

Step 4: Apply your boot polish with a rag or sponge and let the boots absorb it.

Again, I recommend doing this with a gentle massaging motion.

Step 5: Once it’s absorbed, lightly buff (sweeping) it into the leather using the towel and or a soft brush.

I never use a rigid brush as it can scratch the boots, and we don’t want that.

Additional Boot Care Tips and Tricks

How Often Should You Clean Horse-Riding Boots?

My best practice advice is to always wipe the dirt and sweat off after every ride.

If you leave your boots dirty for long, the leather weakens and even starts cracking.

That is something you don’t want. I’ve fallen victim to this neglect myself, which is heartbreaking if it is your favorite pair of boots!

For daily cleaning, a damp cloth is enough.

an equestrian wiping the dirt on her riding boots

But for thorough cleaning where you use leather conditioners and polishing, it should be at least once a month. With frequent use, I always do it a couple of times a month.

If you don’t use your boots that often, then three or four times a year is usually enough.

Leather conditioners add some moisture to make it easier to clean. But when you use them too frequently, the leather becomes too moist, leading to mildew growth.

On the other hand, polishing too often leads to the accumulation of grime on the boots. I always use my judgment when it comes to conditioning and polishing.

Factors such as environment (dry/wet), will determine how often you need to do this.

ALSO READ: How to Break In Leather Boots Fast

How to Maintain Horse Riding Boots

Below are some of my extra maintenance tips.

  • Always store the riding boots in a cool and dry place after use. Please don’t leave them outside for extended periods. Also, direct heat could damage them.
  • If the boots have absorbed a lot of water, soak some of it by placing a dry towel in them. Always temporarily remove the inner sole before placing the towel.
  • Make sure the storage room has enough ventilation/air circulation.
  • Always store the boots using boot trees to maintain the shape.
  • If it’s too muddy, wear over boots, also known as rubber overshoes, to protect the boots. These have saved many boots for me over the years!
  • Overshoes are also handy for kids horse riding boots since kids may not be cautious when outdoors. Or, you can purchase winter horse riding boots since they’re insulated and waterproof.


What should you use to clean riding/tall boots?

boots with brush and conditioner

You need a cloth, towel, sponge, bucket of water, soft brush, leather conditioner, and boot polish. Avoid regular soaps and detergents as they may contain chemicals that could damage the boots.

How Do You Polish Equestrian Boots?

Start by cleaning the dirt and sweat using a damp cloth. After that, let the shoes dry for some time, then apply boot polish using a towel. Let the boots absorb the polish, then buff with a dry cloth or brush to give the boots a shine.

How Often Should I Clean My Riding Boots?

tall boots standing on the muddy ground

Shake off and wipe the boots with a damp cloth every day after use. If you use them frequently, clean them thoroughly and polish them at least every month. For infrequent users, thorough cleaning twice a year is enough.


That wraps up my guide on how to clean riding boots. As you can see, it’s not that complicated. It is more a matter of getting into the habit of regular maintenance, something that took me a long time to do!

Just use the right boot care products, don’t let dirt or sweat accumulate, and thoroughly clean the boots at least once a month based on how frequently you use them.


  • “Cleaning Leather Horse Riding Boots | Equiclass.” Www.equiclass.co.uk, www.equiclass.co.uk/article/11/how-to-clean-leather-horse-riding-boots/.
  • “How to Clean Show Riding Boots | How to Clean Riding Boots.” Www.youtube.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXk9QqlEOcs. Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.
  • Robeson, Jim. “How Do I Care for Tall Riding Boots?” Expert How-to for English Riders, practicalhorsemanmag.com/lifestyle/how-do-i-care-for-tall-riding-boots. Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.
close-up shot of a brown leather horse riding boots

Do you know other useful tips on how to clean riding boots? Please share with us below!

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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