DIY vs Professional Boot Care: How to Choose the Right Option for you

DIY vs professional boot care – which one is better? Although there is no definite and correct answer to the question, specific procedures require the skilled hands of a professional, while other care steps can be done at home.

Think of your boots (and your entire footwear collection) as a permanent investment. The better you care for them, the longer these boots will last. If you want to find out which is the right option for you – a cobbler or a DIY project – keep reading.

When You DIY Boot Care

DIY boot care is the less expensive approach, but it’s not always the most suitable one. Everyday footwear care like cleaning and even storing, s something you won’t need a cobbler for, so you can feel free to engage in some forms of at-home care. 


  • You can do specific care procedures from the warmth of your home, without having to go to a professional;
  • Everyday care doesn’t require visits to a professional service;
  • It’s more affordable when applicable.


  • You aren’t as knowledgeable as professionals;
  • Your DIY projects can damage the boot material if not done properly;
  • You’ll need to invest in quality shoe care tools and products.

So what kind of procedures are appropriate for preserving your boots’ health and prolonging their life at home?

Day-To-Day Cleaning

Cleaning your boots daily after wearing them is a great idea for prolonging their life. 

Your first step should be to grab a soft-bristled brush and a damp microfiber cloth — stay away from chemicals for daily care and just dampen the cloth with water. 

If they’re suede boots, remember this material is much gentler, so you should just stick to a suede cleaning brush and avoid a damp or wet brush at all costs. Before you grab the brush, you can go over the suede surface with a dry, clean towel, but make sure you’re only using gentle movements in the direction of the suede. 

Removing Stains

The secret behind removing stains is acting fast and being familiar with the shoe material. Once the spill happens, you’ll want to blot it right away, then treat it according to the nature of the stain. In most cases, if you get into action right away, you’ll simply wipe off the liquid and it will be like nothing ever happened. 

Oil and grease stains are the most stubborn to treat and are generally best left for professionals. If you can’t get the boots to a cobbler, you can try cornstarch with a damp cloth. Ink stains are another common culprit that can be treated with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs — you might want to condition the boots afterward to make sure they won’t dry out too much.

If you notice that your oily, waxy leather boots have accumulated dirt and stains, you can treat them with saddle soap. It’s an excellent alternative for salt stains, dark spots, and discoloration. For other stain types, you can try a commercial leather stain removal product. 

Remove Smells

Smelly footwear is a common problem that can be solved at home. 

Some useful ingredients people use to de-funk their boots include baking soda, black tea bags, a shoe disinfecting spray that’s safe for leather, shoe powder spray, and tea tree oil. 

The most popular method, though, is cedar wood shoe trees, which are a great investment because cedar is a natural deodorizer with antifungal properties. It also helps to absorb the extra moisture and prevent odours, all while preserving the shape of your boots. 

If the smell doesn’t seem to go away, turn to a cobbler, and he’ll be able to recondition the footwear. 

Waterproofing And Polishing

You can waterproof and polish your boots at home if you have enough time and patience. For waterproofing, you can use special sprays or wax products, specifically made for leather boots. After cleaning the boots well and letting them dry, you can apply small amounts of the wax or spray you chose all over the boot surface. Wait for the boots to dry, then get rid of the extra product.

For polishing, you’ll need a polishing brush specifically made for the type of leather you’re treating and a polishing product. You can opt for a clean microfiber cloth if you don’t have a brush. Work the polish into the leather boot with circular movements, and buff the leather with a clean cloth. For an even shinier appearance, you can go for a polishing wax. 

Preserve Boot Shape

This is a day-to-day care step that every person should practice. There is no need to visit a professional, all you need are boot trees and boot shapers. You can fill knee-high and over-the-knee boots with tall boot shapers, while boot trees should be your go-to solution for short boots. If you don’t have any shapers or trees, you can stuff your boots with paper or cardboard to keep them upright to prevent creases. If you have multiple pairs to store, special hanging racks will help you save space. Some people prefer using boot hangers. If you take that route, use a soft cloth between the hanger and the leather to prevent damage. 

Protect Heels

To prevent heel damage, you can protect your boots with rubber taps or transparent heel protectors. These taps and protectors go on the outside of the heel and prevent scratches, damage, and wearing out the heel. Heel protectors are great to use whenever you have to walk long distances with your boots, step into the grass, walk on uneven, cobblestone streets, etc. They are available online in many sizes, colors, boot types and are easy to install at home. 

Small Scuffs And Scratches

Minor scuffs and scratches aren’t an urgent shoe repair situation. Yes, taking the boots to a shoe professional will provide a much better result, but you can repair them at home if you want to save time and money.

Whenever you see minor scuffs and scratches, you can try fixing them with a soft-bristled shoe brush, rubber eraser, commercial scuff-eraser, or a magic eraser. When none of these options work, polishing or conditioning can lessen the appearance of the scuffs and scratches. If you notice deep, large scratches, scuffs, and cuts that won’t disappear with polishing and conditioning, you should turn to a cobbler.

thursday logger boot on feet

When To Opt For Professional Boot Care

There are certain situations that require help from professionals. If you’re dealing with broken heels, tears, damaged soles, you have to forget about DIY solutions and invest in your boots. Here are the significant pros and cons of a professional service:


  • Professionals know what they’re doing and will provide superb shoe care;
  • They use professional tools, care products, and techniques that are adapted to the boot material, type, and problem;
  • They have long-term experience in footwear care;
  • Using a professional shoe restoration service will save you time;
  • Professionals can successfully bring your favourite boots back to life and perform various repair procedures.


  • Professional boot care can be a little costlier compared to at-home projects, but it’s much safer;
  • It can take longer to get the boots back.


Tears can make your leather boots look outdated. Although there is no guarantee that a cobbler can fix the tear, you can still take your beloved boots to a professional and see if there’s a chance of saving them. Cobblers usually first inspect the tear, then determine if they’ll treat it, so there’s no risk having an initial consultation. 


Cracks are another leather boot problem, best solved by a professional. They can be surface cracks or deeper ones, and their type will determine whether the cobbler will fix them entirely or make them look like a natural imperfection of the leather material.  

Broken, Damaged, Wobbly Heel

You simply can’t wear a pair of boots with a broken, damaged, or wobbly heel. It doesn’t look good, and it can turn into a disaster. This is a situation when you have to turn to a cobbler and see if the heel can be fixed.

Broken Strap

Some people think they can just sew broken straps. Imagine how precise and skilled you need to be to do this. You also need the right tools and a thread that will perfectly match the rest of the shoe. Plus, it won’t be as aesthetically pleasing as when done by a cobbler.

Repair Soles

If the soles of your boots are damaged, you should definitely look for professional service and get them resoled. Your footwear should be comfortable, and damaged soles will make walking much harder. Call a cobbler when you notice:

  • Worn-out soles
  • Slippery soles
  • Delaminated soles

Professional shoe repair stores can also change your existing soles with non-skid soles, fix tears, and more.

Professional Polishing And Waterproofing

This is a step you can do at home, but there are several reasons why professionals do a much better job. 

First of all, they have been doing it for a while, and know how to use products to achieve the ultimate results. Cobblers have the right tools and products for polishing and waterproofing, while you’ll need to do extensive research to find compatible ones for your boot type. Finally, they can save you a lot of time and give back a pair of boots that looks as good as new.

timberlands clean

Colour Restoration, Stitching, Fur Cleaning

These three steps will enhance the appearance of your footwear. If your favourite pair is damaged by stubborn stains, discoloration, loose stitches, or dirty fur, a professional service can make it look as good as new. 

Some of these care steps can be done at home, but they’ll require more time, skills, special high-quality products, tools, and won’t look as good as professional work.


Taking regular care of your boots, cleaning them after every use, adding boot shapers, and protecting the heels will save you from spending money on professional services. However, some situations should be handled by a person with proper knowledge, tools, and products. If you have a broken heel, cracked boots, broken straps, damaged soles, discoloured, stained boots, you should contact a cobbler.

Polishing and waterproofing are procedures that can be done at home and by a professional. If you want to save money and time, try doing them yourself. But if you want a superb result, get in touch with a shoe repair service.

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Tony Kantzavelos is the owner of Canada’s largest clothing Restoration company. Tony’s passion is making shoes look like new for as long as possible by offering shoe repair, cleaning, and restoration services in Toronto Canada. Tony takes pride in his work since it is helping to reduce the throw-away society that is plaguing the world’s natural resources, by extending the life of the footwear.

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