How to Clean Rough-Out Leather Boots

Updated February 21, 2017

Rough out leather (sometimes called rough-out suede leather) boots have a soft, non-glossy look and feel because, literally, the rough side of the hide is what you see. Like all leather boots, keeping these clean will help them last longer. Leather is prone to drying out or even mildewing in the wrong conditions and if they aren’t tended to. Cleaning rough out leather boots is a little different from cleaning smooth glossy leather. In general, any product safe for suede or nubuck is suitable for rough out boots.

Take your boots outdoors. Knock the soles gently against a hard surface if the soles are caked with a lot of dirt. A little dirt on the soles is not a big deal, but a lot of dirt or mud means the dirt may end up on the leather. Use a bristled brush to brush dirt off the soles if necessary.

Brush the rough out leather with a suede brush to loosen a lot of dirt. After you’ve brushed them completely with the suede brush, do it again.

Apply a few drops of suede and nubuck cleaner to a clean cloth. Gently scrub this over any stains on the rough out leather. Let the cleaner work on the stain for a few minutes (follow directions on the bottle), and wipe it again with a dry cloth, followed by the suede brush.

Protect rough out leather boots from moisture and stains by applying a stain repellent. Use one suitable for suede and nubuck. These are very easy to apply; just hold the spray bottle several inches away from the boot to direct an even mist of spray, and move the bottle up and down to cover all leather surfaces with the spray. Let the boots dry before wearing them; most products suggest waiting several hours at least after spraying.

Tip advises that suede, nubuck and rough out boots do not need conditioning. Keeping the boots clean should be sufficient for maintaining their appearance and function. Store boots in a dry area to prevent mildew. If you live in a humid region, keep some silica desiccant packets (like the kind that you’ll find in shoe boxes with new shoes) with your boots to keep them dry.


Only use products for suede or rough out leather on these boots; other leather cleaners or conditioners may stain the leather.

Things You'll Need

  • Bristled brush
  • Suede brush
  • Suede cleaner
  • Cloth
  • Stain and water repellent spray
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author