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- Nothing can completely prevent scuffs, scratches, and damage on leather goods, but a good leather protector can help.
- Our top pick is the highly-rated Guardsman Protect & Preserve For Leather, which works on everything from ankle boots to car seats.
For Christmas I received a pair of Everlane Day Boots in a limited-edition metallic color. I love these shoes, but I’m kind of afraid to wear them too often. They’re super comfortable, but the leather is delicate – and did I mention limited edition???
If you, too, have some precious leather goods you’d like to shield from the elements, it’s might be a good idea to invest in a leather protector. Most protectors come in spray or balm form and guard delicate leathers from rain, snow, liquid, and wine you spilled on your desk chair while working late into the night.
They won’t protect your items from all signs of wear-and-tear – abrasions, creases, and scuff marks are somewhat unavoidable – but it’s an extra step you can take to ensure your leather items age gracefully.
While leather protectors are especially useful for pieces you plan to take outside like jackets, shoes, and bags, it can’t hurt to apply them to furnishings you want to keep in tip-top shape, either. And the kind of leather protector you should buy depends on the type of leather you’re planning to use it on.
Here are the best leather protectors you can buy:
- Best leather protector overall: Guardsman Protect & Preserve For Leather
- Best suede protector: Scotchgard Suede & Nubuck Protector
- Best leather protector for boots: Kiwi Boot Protector
- Best leather protector cream: Aquaseal Leather Waterproof Cream
- Best leather protector kit: Apple Brand Leather Care Kit
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best leather protector overall
Why you’ll love it: The gentle Guardsman Protect & Preserve for Leather liquid keeps your leather goods looking brand-new and won’t change the color or finish.
Most leather protectors are basically waterproofing sprays, but Guardsman Protect & Preserve for Leather goes above and beyond the call of duty. Massage the product onto your leather goods to protect them from the elements or to minimize signs of wear-and-tear on items you’ve had for a while.
Per the brand’s claim, the product creates an “invisible barrier that protects against premature aging and irreversible damage from penetrating stains.” You can use it on anything from clothing, shoes, cars, and furniture. The formula is ph-balanced and doesn’t have a strong scent like many similar products.
Perhaps the best part is that it won’t impact the color or finish of your leather items, which is a major drawback with some protectants.
One downside of this product is that it can’t be used on suede or buffed leather. But Guardsman Protect & Preserve does what it claims to do, and it does it remarkably well. The reviews prove that. It’s an Amazon’s Choice pick with a 4.3-star rating at the retailer.
“This stuff is awesome. I used it on my leather travel bag and it protects it in rugged environments and the airport,” writes one shopper.
Pros: Works on everything from furniture to shoes, protects and conditions, no strong smell, doesn’t change finish or color of leather
Cons: Not for use on suede, nubuck, or brushed leather
The best suede protector
Why you’ll love it: Scotchguard Suede & Nubuck Protector preserves your delicate suede clothing and accessories with a quick spritz.
Suede is even more sensitive than other kinds of leather and is definitely worth protecting if you ever plan on taking it outside or wearing it around spillable liquids. Scotchguard Suede & Nubuck Protector is a great option for suede.
As many reviewers note, this is an excellent pick for treating soft winter boots so they don’t get those dreaded salt rings around the toes from walking on snow-treated sidewalks. It will also protect from liquids like water and oil without damaging the surface of the leather or suede. The spray nozzle makes for simple application – no rags or cloths required!
Scotchguard Suede & Nubuck Protector has been featured by Insider Picks in the past, as well as WhoWhatWear, Bustle, and The Strategist. The product has a 3.6-rating on Amazon, based on 1,200+ reviews.
“After two months, I noticed that my daughters’ boots have no salt stains on them, while my girlfriend’s boots that weren’t treated did have stains (see photo). Any marks also very easily come off just by dabbing with damp paper towels. I am very satisfied with the protection that this spray offers,” writes one customer.
The most helpful review notes that, though the product works as advertises, the nozzle can be tricky to get right: “Tough review because it works great, so long as you remove the plastic tip and run hot water to clean in out before using.”
Pros: works on suede and nubuck, spray-on
Cons: Nozzle can be tough to use
The best leather protector for boots
Why you’ll love it: The Kiwi Boot Protector is heavy-duty enough for use on hiking and work boots that get pushed to their absolute limits.
Some leather boots are already designed for serious wear-and-tear. To add an extra layer of protection to these, consider the Kiwi Boot Protector. It’s specially formulated for boots, especially outdoors and work boots that will be pushed to their absolute limits.
Per the product description, it contains silicone and “bonds to leather and fabrics to create an extremely tough barrier” without drying out the materials. You can use them for other leather shoes besides hiking boots and the like, as long as you don’t mind the possibility that the color or finish might change slightly.
“I’ve now used this on two pairs of shoes and am happy to report that they are still looking great and wicking away water! I feel like the boot protector does more than just waterproof them and actually makes them far easier to clean as well,” writes one Amazon shopper.
Pros: Tough silicone-based formula, works for outdoor boots & on suede
Cons: Might change color or finish of leather slightly
The best leather protector cream
Why you’ll love it: The Aquaseal Leather Waterproof Cream shields and conditions your favorite leather items so they’re as buttery soft as the day you brought them home.
If you’re looking to moisturize and protect your leather goods, look no further than the Aquaseal Leather Waterproof Cream. This is a scent-free balm that hydrates dried-out leather while shielding it from further damage.
Specifically formulated for use on hiking boots, this is a heavy-duty protectant. But don’t hesitate to use it on your everyday leather goods, from ankle boots to handbags or briefcases that could use the extra moisture. One reviewer even compares the cream to coconut oil.
This is an especially good choice if you’re looking for something that will moisturize and not strip the oils from your leather. It has a 4.3 Amazon rating based on 29 reviews.
Pros: Moisturizing cream, no scent, waterproofs
Cons: Requires cloth or rag to apply
The best leather protector kit
Why you’ll love it: The Apple Brand Leather Care Kit pulls double duty as a conditioner and a cleaner.
If you want to step up your leather goods game big time, stock up on the Apple Brand Leather Care Kit. This set comes with two formulas designed to keep your favorite shoes, bags, accessories, and furnishings in mint condition.
First, apply the leather cleaner to clean off stains, scuffs, dust, and dirt. Follow it up with the leather conditioner, which “replenishes the natural oils found in leather and prevents drying, cracking, scratching, and splitting.” Hello, yes!
Unfortunately, this kit isn’t safe to use on suede or nubuck, but it’s a godsend for other kinds of leather. The brand claims the formulations won’t change the color of your leather goods, so it should be safe on lighter materials. This product doesn’t waterproof like most of the others on this list, so it’s best used in conjunction with a spray.
The kit has a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, based on 330 shopper reviews, and has been featured by The Cut.
“Apple Brand Leather Care set is the single best cleaner and conditioner duo for keeping luxury handbags soft and beautiful for years to come. I am so happy that this brand is available on Amazon,” writes one fan.
Pros: Comes with cleaner and protectant, doesn’t alter leather color or finish
Cons: Not waterproof, not for nubuck or suede
Check out our guide to the best shoe polish
- Otter Wax
Shoe polish is an important part of ensuring that your leather shoes and boots last as long as possible.
Polishes are also great for casual shoes and boots, and there are special types made for these that offer additional leather protection. We’ve rounded up the best shoe polishes available today to suit just about any need, so read on to find the right one to help you keep your leather footwear looking great for years to come.
Here is the best shoe polish you can buy:
- Best shoe polish overall: Saphir Renovateur
- Best shoe polishing cream: Meltonian
- Best shoe polishing wax: Lincoln Stain Wax
- Best shoe conditioner: Otter Wax
- Best shoe protectant: Obenauf’s
- Best saddle soap: Fiebing’s Saddle Soap
- Best horse hair brush: Allen Edmonds Horsehair Brush
- Best dauber: Allen Edmonds Dauber
- Best buffing cloth: Allen Edmonds Buffing Cloth