How To Distress Leather Boots : 7 Methods Explained [2024]

Written By Mahia

Vintage and traditional fashion accessories are never out of fashion. Itself it gives a rustic and historical feel.

Distress leather boots are trendy yet give you a 90’s feel. Naturally, it takes almost a decade or more than a decade for distressing. However, without waiting for a decade you can make your new sleek and polished leather boots into a premium quality distressed boots.

In this article you will learn how to distress leather boots to achieve an aged vintage look in them.

How to make leather look old?

Let’s learn about it

How to distress leather shoes

Distressing can be done both naturally and chemically. Natural distressing needs some muscle work whereas chemical distressing makes your work a little bit easier. Some of the methods of distressing are discussed briefly below:

Follow our guide to know Why Do Special Forces Wear Hiking Boots.

Distress leather by rubbing alcoholdistress-leather-by-rubbing-alcohol

  • Things you’ll need-Rubbing alcohol.
  1. Place the rubbing alcohol in a spraying bottle.
  2. Light handedly spray the leather of your boots. You can also use a toothbrush or old cloth instead of a spray bottle.
  3. Don’t wet through the leather with alcohol, just damp it
  4. Once the alcohol dries out, it will give the leather an eroded look.

Be careful when using alcohol, don’t go over-board. Otherwise, your boots texture can be damaged.

But before that, go through our epic guide How Should Tactical Boots Fit.

Distress leather by wax

  • Things you’ll need- Fabric wax, Blow-dryer, Water.
  1. Firstly, clean off the boot to make sure there is no dirt.
  2. Take the wax, rub it evenly all over the boot in a circular motion but light-handedly.
  3. Plug your blow-dryer, heat the wax bar so that it is nice and soft and starts to drip a little bit.
  4. Rub it again all over the boots, this time be heavy-handed where you want your boots to look distressed more.
  5. Once the wax bar dries, again buff it with the bar where you have previously put the hot wax. This smoothes down the leather and creates a smooth surface which allows the material to shine a little bit.
  6. Get some water, dip your fingers and smooth out the material just a little bit more.
  7. Repeat the process over and over again until you get the desired effect.

Distress leather by rock or stone

  • Things you will need-Rough edge rock.

Rub the toe and heel of the leather boots by the sharp edge of the rock. It will leave non-uniform streaks and give a distressed look.

Distress leather by brushdistress-leather-by-brush

  • Things you’ll need- Heavy bristled brush.

Scrub the surface of the boot with the brush to make the smooth surface into a textured one. You can also use rubbing alcohol to soften the leather of the boots. Thus makes it more easier to work with the brush.

Follow our other guide to know what are Tactical Research Boots.

Distress leather by hammer

  • Things you’ll need- Hammer, Old cloth, Rubberband.
  1. First, tie the old cloth around the hammer using a rubber band.
  2. Hammer the toe, heel and the side of the boots. This will soften the boots.

Be careful while hammering the boots, out of excitement don’t hammer it so hard that you end up breaking the sole.

Distress leather by sandpaper

  • Things you’ll need- Sandpaper.
  1. Scrape the leather using grade sandpaper, be gentle while using it.
  2. Rub the places more where distress is more likely to experience such as toes, seams and the corner of the heel.

Use rubbing alcohol to soften the leather.

Distress leather by baseball

  • Things you’ll need- Baseball, Old sock.
  1. Place the boots on a hard surface. Pack the boots with newspaper inside.
  2. Place a baseball inside a sock, hold the end of the sock and beat the leather. This will ease the leather.

Things you should keep in mind while distressing leather  boots

  • Before doing any of the methods below always check the manufacturer’s label because Genuine leather doesn’t distress in one or two weeks it distresses over-time.
  • Excessive alcohol usage can make your leather boots dried out and make your boots fragile.
  • Once you distress your boots there is no going back.

How to take care of distressed leather  boots

  • If you wear boots on a regular basis then thoroughly brush your boots once in a week, preventing any dirt build-ups. Weekly cleaning will definitely make your boots look new and increase its longevity.
  • Do not let your boots dried out. Always keep your distressed boots moistured, you can use shoe conditioner. It will make sure the boots are not too dry.
  • Use the boot stand to prevent your boots from getting creased and crinkled.
  • Use water-proofing sprays. This will protect against water and other stains

But before that, you check out Are 5.11 Tactical Boots Any Good.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is distressed leather?

Distressed Leather is a leather with a faux worn out and mature look. Though natural distressing happens over a long period but there are certain techniques for distressing leather within a shorter period.

What is distressed leather boots?

Distressed leather boots have a more mature, vintage look, which gives them their wistful appearance. Undisturbed leather boots are usually varnished off with a protective layer, which gives them that nice gloss. That last step is usually excluded with distressed leather.

How do I make my cowboy boots look distressed?

Use a tough stranded brush or steel wool to distress the exterior of the leather. For a scored surface, pull the brush or pad over the boots. When the scores are added, scrape a piece of sandpaper in a circular motion on the boots to distress the leather furthermore. To complete the process, wear the boots in a tough ground.


Following the steps mentioned above will amazingly make your leather boots weather. To prevent further damage, when you are satisfied

with the distress, use shoe wax.

Distressing is a long process it happens over-time so don’t think that only after one go you will see magical results.

But yes, repeating the process will definitely give you a vintage distressed leather boots.

If this article helped you, please feel free to share your experience and leave your valuable comment in the comment section.

About The Author
Since childhood, Mahia is a shoe freak. And this is what lead her to do more research and gather knowledge about shoes.Mahia has always wanted to share her skill and knowledge about footwear with a mass audience, which ended her up in this amazing workplace.When Mahia is not writing, you can almost always find her in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes to upgrade her catering menu.

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