DIY Natural Leather Protector

When you spend the cash to invest in a decent pair of shoes you’ll want to take good care of them. That’s why I recently learned how to make a DIY natural leather protector.

What is leather?

Leather is the hide from an animal, usually a cow, that has been cleaned and preserved for use as shoes, belts, purses, jackets, saddles, etc. Leather is incredibly durable and has been used for centuries.

Why does leather need protecting?

When exposed to the elements leather can take a lot of wear and tear. Water and especially salt (think icy sidewalks in winter) can damage or discolor leather. A protective layer on leather can help prevent scratches, scuffs, and other wear.

This is going to sound gross but let’s be real here, leather was once skin. Like our own skin, leather softens when it is conditioned and cared for. This can make the leather look better for longer and also be more comfortable to wear. Okay did I creep you out on that one? Because I creeped myself out. It’s still true!

how to clean and polish leather rough and tumble farmhouse
The dirty boots! Sounds like a good name for a pub.

Ingredients and Supplies for a DIY Natural Leather Protector

For this batch of leather conditioner/polish/protector I had all the ingredients on hand.

  • Beeswax
  • Nut Butter – I used shea butter but avocado, mango, etc. would all be options
  • Castor Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil – Avocado oil or similar would also work
  • Storage Jars
  • Double Boiler
  • Clean cotton or microfiber towels
all natural leather protector rough and tumble farmhouse
Butters, oils, and beeswax in the double boiler.

If you want to go as simple as possible here, you can gently rub a hunk of beeswax on your leather goods and work it in with a towel or your fingers. This will give you a water resistant coating but it won’t do anything to soften and condition the leather.

The great part of all these ingredients is they would be perfectly safe and beneficial to use on your own skin!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.

How to Make Leather Polish/Protector

This recipe whips up in less than fifteen minutes.

Start with a double boiler. This can be made by taking a small stock pot with 2 inches of water and placing it on the stove. Place a bowl on the top of the pot. The bowl should be small enough to sit down in the pot a little, but big enough that it doesn’t reach the water.

Please do not microwave beeswax. It is highly flammable.

Combine the following ingredients in the double boiler:

  • 2 Tablespoons Beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons Shea Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Castor Oil

Allow the ingredients to melt down. Give it a stir with a disposable stick of some kind. Once the oils and wax have all combined, pour them in to a small storage container. I found that a 4oz half pint jar worked perfectly.

Allow the leather balm to cool, then place a lid on top for storage. This should keep indefinitely.

leather balm rough and tumble farmhouse
Here the balm is cooling.

Steps to Clean and Protect Leather

Clean the Leather

Before adding the conditioner/polish/protective layer, the leather should be cleaned first. If you have a new pair of kicks then you can skip this step.

I’ve been traipsing around in my boots already so they needed a good cleaning.

First brush off any visible dirt.

Next, mix equal parts water and vinegar in a small cup. Using a cotton cloth or microfiber cloth, dip it in the solution and squeeze it out so the cloth is only damp.

how to clean leather boots rough and tumble farmhouse

Clean a small area of the leather, then wipe away the moisture with the dry cloth. A little “Wax on, wax off” action.

Once every nook and cranny is clean, let them dry for few minutes before applying the polish.

Apply the Leather Balm

Dip the end of a cotton or microfiber cloth in the freshly made leather balm. Start with a small amount because just a dab will do. Work it into the leather in small circles. Repeat until the entire surface is covered. You can apply a second coat if you think it really needs some extra attention.

polishing leather rough and tumble farmhouse

How Often Should I condition Leather?

This all depends on the item and the conditions. A leather wallet probably needs cleaning once a year. A purse, maybe twice a year.

Shoes like the boots I worked on could do with a cleaning and refresh of leather polish every 1-3 months, especially in the winter.

Keep an eye on your leather item and judge based on its wear. For my boots if they seem to be less water resistant or the leather is having any discoloration starting then I will know for sure that it is time to clean and coat them again

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