How to clean leather timberlands

Updated April 17, 2017

"We want you to get dirty," says Timberland in its marketing material. Timberland offers its hard-working boots in several types of leather, including smooth, pebble-grain, suede and nubuck. How you care for the boots depends on the type of leather. Timberland offers its own line of cleaning products, but similar products are readily available from other makers, like Kiwi and Fiebing.

Remove laces.

Wipe off any dirt or debris with a wet rag.

Remove any dirt from the welts (the notch between the sole and the upper) with a welt tool or an old toothbrush.

Dig any dirt out of the soles with a stiff-bristle brush (like a grill-cleaning brush) or with a tool like Timberland's Rubber Sole Brush.

Spray or daub the leather with a cleaning product, like Timberland's Boot Sauce Cleaner, or a leather cleaner from a cobbler or upholstery shop.

Apply shoe cream, if you wish to renew the colour. Timberland offers its Boot Sauce Cream in black and brown, but a shoe cream from another maker is sufficient. Use shoe cream, not polish; cream conditions and colours the leather, whereas wax simply shines it.

Apply a protector, like mink oil or Timberland's All Purpose Protector. These will protect the boot against water penetration, and keep the leather supple.

Repeat steps 1 through 4 above.

Brush off any remaining dirt with a suede or fingernail brush. The suede brush may be the rubber variety that Timberland offers, one with stiff brass bristles, or one that is identical to the far-cheaper fingernail brush.

Spray the leather with a suede/nubuck cleaner, like Timberland's Suede and Nubuck Cleaner, or comparable Kiwi, Fiebing and Tarrago products. These contain organic compounds which will penetrate and help to lift out the dirt.

Spray the uppers with a suede and nubuck waterproofing and protecting agent, available from makers such as Kiwi, Nikwax and Aquaseal. These penetrate the leather with silicone, but allow the leather to retain its nap.


Do not apply mink oil or smooth-leather conditioners to suede or nubuck boots; you will destroy the nap.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Toothbrush or welt tool
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Smooth-leather cleaner
  • Shoe cream
  • Mink oil or leather dubbin
  • Suede brush or fingernail brush
  • Suede cleaner spray
  • Suede conditioning spray
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About the Author

Dan Antony began his career in the sciences (biotech and materials science) before moving on to business and technology, including a stint as the international marketing manager of an ERP provider. His writing experience includes books on project management, engineering and construction, and the "Internet of Things."