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Footwear Cleaners/Treatments

Top Picks

How we choose: The best footwear cleaners/treatments highlighted here were selected based on 18 reviews of 11 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a footwear cleaner/treatment that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP

user rating: 5 of 5 (5 reviews)

Ok, this stuff is the deal.

Reasons to Buy

  • Effective
  • Protects
  • Extends boot life
  • Waterproofs

Reasons to Avoid

  • I didn't find it 30 years ago

This stuff was invented by a North Idaho forest fire fighter. That's where I was and what I was doing when I discovered this stuff back in 1996. In the five years I fought wildland fire I tromped through fire, ash, planted trees in spring rains, crossed creeks and slogged through knee-deep mud and as long as I wasn't actually working in the creek all day, my feet stayed pretty dry and gave me no blisters. Some guys used boots with WPB liners and cheap boot grease and my leather logger boots with LP stayed dry longer.  Today I use it on work and leather hiking boots.  I grew up in the Seattle area trying really hard to keep my feet dry with very little success.  I have used mink oil (terrible), pure lanolin (not bad), sno-seal, pure bees...

Read more: Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP reviews (5)

Gear Aid Aquaseal+SR Shoe Repair Adhesive

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This is an easy-to-use shoe glue for repairs such as detached soles. It dries overnight and holds securely even after severe abuse.

Reasons to Buy

  • Dries overnight
  • Holds securely

Reasons to Avoid

  • Needs to be taped while glue dries

About a month ago, I did a review of the Brooks PureGrit 3 trail running shoes. In that review, I pointed out that the sole had begun to separate near the toe on both shoes. Immediately after writing that review, I used some Freesole to re-attach the sole with fantastic results.   EASE OF USE:   Overall, Freesole is pretty easy to use. You just smear a little bit on the sole and tape, tie, or otherwise press the shoe together. After sitting overnight, your shoe should hold together firmly.

Read more: Gear Aid Aquaseal+SR Shoe Repair Adhesive review (1)

Nikwax Conditioner for Leather

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

An ESSENTIAL tool for real world use of leather, such as boots used in the outdoors (works well on indoor shoes too). Restores supple feel and flexibility to dry leather gear. Restores water proofing without hurting the gear. Neutral color, but does increase the color present giving a darkening effect to the leather. Works with Gore Tex and eVent waterproof membrane boots.

Reasons to Buy

  • Saves and protects gear extremely well, giving longer life and comfort
  • Waterproofs about like Nikwax itself.
  • Cleans as treats.
  • Also useful if you want to darken leather and give richer colors.
  • Applies as a milky emulsion, but does not go milky again once dries on the leather.
  • Easy to apply, buff finish and just use water to clean up.
  • No fumes or irritation using it. No gloves needed.
  • Water based product stores well and does not spoil on the shelf
  • Neutral color, one bottle treats all my leather products.
  • Also works on surface textured leathers (note changes however).
  • Works well with Gore Tex and eVent membrane protected boots!
  • Treated leather does not seem to attract mold growth, suspect conditioner protects against attack
  • One container treats MANY pair of boots!

Reasons to Avoid

  • Don't use if don't want leather color to darken (changes leather color towards the richer colors looking more like a water soaked color)
  • Not a permanent one time use (but what is?). I seem to need to reapply it a couple times a year in our wet climate (doesn't seem to build up)
  • Use will change semi-matt finish, microsuede, and suede leather to resemble regular slick leather.

Nikwax Conditioner for Leather label for bottle used in this review. My wife scored a nice Lowa Albula GTX boot deal this fall at an REI Seattle garage sale. The boots were like new in shape, but looked a little dry from long term storage prior to sale. I gave one conditioner treatment to the boot on the left. Notice the dark blue and raspberry red leather colors deepening. The boot is quite black blue and cordovan maroon now. The micromatt suede surface was lost and looks slicker, more like a traditional leather.

Read more: Nikwax Conditioner for Leather reviews (2)

Atsko Sno-Seal

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

Beeswax based leather treatment. Waterproofs and conditions leather. Great for boots, motorcycle leathers and other gear exposed to the elements.

Reasons to Buy

  • Waterproof within reason
  • Easy to apply
  • No smell after drying

Reasons to Avoid

  • May change leather color
  • Over treated leather is a dust magnet

Sno-Seal has been my go-to leather treatment for decades primarily on leather boots and motorcycle jackets.  The beeswax based product is listed by Atsko as suitable for waxed cotton and for tent seams, but I have never used it for those purposes. In my experience the product is best applied to warm leather as heat softens the wax and makes it easier to apply evenly. I usually put items to be treated in the sun for a few minutes first after brushing and/or wiping them down to remove any dirt.

Read more: Atsko Sno-Seal reviews (2)

Kenetrek Waterproofing Boot Wax

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Great leather treatment for boots!

Reasons to Buy

  • Absorbs well into leather
  • Darkens leather
  • Easy application

Reasons to Avoid

  • None to speak of.

Good boots are perhaps the most important gear any outdoors-man/woman will ever own. Good boots are a significant investment so it is important to maintain your boots for longevity and functionality.   I treat my leather boots fairly regularly. I have mainly used Nikwax and Himalaya Wax in the past. I also used to use mink oil. The Nikwax and Himalaya Wax worked well but they seemed to leave a visible waxy coating on the surface of the boots that would crack and start peeling off.  The wax didn't seem to absorb into the leather like mink oil does.

Read more: Kenetrek Waterproofing Boot Wax review (1)

More Reviews of Footwear Cleaners/Treatments

Trailspace reviewers have shared 18 reviews of 11 different footwear cleaners/treatments.

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Other Types of Gear Care and Maintenance

Find more gear care and maintenance reviewed in these related categories:

Repair Kits

Patches and Tapes

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