How To Clean and Condition Leather Featuring Chamberlain Leather Milk

Chamberlain Leather Milk - Leather Reviews

Making your first big leather purchase can be a fun and taxing experience. Most quality leather goods command a premium price and definitely live up to the, “Buy the best only cry once” mantra. We get asked a lot about what we do for our leather goods, and people are usually surprised when we say very little. One of the great things about premium leather is that it doesn’t really require much. Personally, I condition a few times a year depending on use. We’ve sampled dozens of conditioners, and we’ve come to prefer Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

High quality leather is usually treated with a tanning process. This treats the leather against premature aging and somewhat seals the leather from outside exposure, almost like wood is treated with stain. Over time the leather can lose some of those oils due to wear and exposure. That’s where a quality leather conditioner comes in. Treating leather is a pretty simple procedure. 

First take a soft brush or cloth rag and brush off any large debris like caked on dirt or dust. Then you take your applicator pad (Included with a bottle of Leather Milk) and squirt a very tiny dollop onto the pad (We recommend spot testing in a hard to see area just to make sure you like what you see) then work into the leather in a circular motion ala Karate Kid. A thin layer is all you need. 

You can see how the leather darkens a little after application, this is normal – The belt is a Sandlot Goods Horween Leather.

You’ll see great results right away but don’t think more is better, you will just end up making the leather greasy. Wipe any excess off with a clean rag. Wait about 10 minutes for the conditioner to seep into the leather and buff out the surface with a dry cloth. Voila!

Notice how the fine lines in the bottom picture are slightly diminished after treatment. The character and patina remain, but the leather is moisturized.

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk is all natural and made in the USA – so we’re proud to offer it. It will go a long ways in rejuvenating your leather and making it supple and smooth. Heck, I even put some under my eyes at night to remove the black spots- Just kidding! In all seriousness, I do my Redwing Iron Rangers boots twice a year and they look great. Usually right before Fall hits and once again when winter is over, just to keep the leather healthy while stored away. Same goes for bags, wallets and belts. If the leather ever feels stiff or brittle, just give the leather a little CPR with Chamberlains! 

We also made a quick How To video to see it all in action. Thanks again for reading!

Dropforge Leather Care Review

I’m an avid hunter. I enjoy “walking in the woods with a gun” every October in search of elusive elk. I then continue my trekking through November and into the beginning of December in search of whitetail and mule deer. For the past six seasons, my feet have had the pleasure of being swathed in a fantastic pair of Danner Hunting Boots. I don’t believe they make this particular model anymore – they’re 8” high, have the classic “Danner Bob” outsole, and feature solid leather uppers. They’re comfortable and bullet proof.

To be brutally honest, they have loved my feet well, but I have not reciprocated at all. I abuse them each season and then stick them on my hunting gear shelf in the garage. And…that’s been the story for the past six or so seasons (I can’t really remember when I got these boots).


When Luke asked about having us test the Dropforge Leather Care Cream , I did a quick mental inventory on what I thought would be a good test case and immediately and sadly thought of my trusty hunting boots. Their sad, neglected condition needs to be rectified…and Dropforge Leather Care has come to the rescue.


About Dropforge Leather Care

DropForge Leather Care is owned and operated by Bryan and his son Luke with the help of an old friend, Bob. They live in eastern Washington at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, namely Clarkston WA and create their products there too. Growing up on an Idaho farm and seeing first hand how leather needs to be treated, they got involved in the leather care industry in 1993. This led to 22 years of experimenting with what worked best in the industry, with first hand involvement in competitive products.


Now they’re embarking on their own with 25+ combined years of experience in the leather care industry. They seek to bring a fresh perspective and superior product line to the leather care community. Currently they’re running a Kickstarter campaign to help them propel their company forward. There’s still time to get in on funding their company and get some great products at the same time.


Testing Dropforge Leather Care’s Cream

By now, you’ve seen the corresponding images of my boots. Yes, shame on me for not giving them more love over the years. But…dang, they’re awesome and have held up really, really well to substantial abuse over the years!

After banging out most of last season’s mud and shaking out some pine needles and junk the boots were ready for application of the Dropforge Leather Care Cream. Over the years I’ve used a variety of cloths and applicators for saddle soap, leather cleaners, and conditioners. However, when I’m working on a pair of boots I always gravitate to a trusty old sock. It is my favorite because it slips over my hand and allows me to work the product in easily with all of my fingers. The sock has just enough texture to allow you to really work the Cream in deeply.


The Cream is a soft product and goes on very easily. It has an extremely pleasant smell too, which shouldn’t be a surprise since it’s chemical free and all natural. It contains natural oils and beeswax. It’s the “bee” part that makes it smell, well…delicious. I was craving some really good toast, a little butter, and honey the entire time I was conditioning my boots. The Cream was easy to manipulate into all of the nooks and crannies on my boots and covered them entirely without issue.


Once you’ve applied the product Dropforge recommends that you let it sit overnight. If you’re able to set your conditioned products out in the sun or near a heat source this will also help the conditioning and waterproofing process. So…now, I need to be patient and let Cream work its magic.



My initial impression is very positive for Dropforge Leather Care’s Cream. It’s easy to apply, smells great, is all-natural, and already has my boots looking much, much more loved and appreciated. It looks like it’s going to protect and preserve my boots for many more seasons to come.



There are lots of other players in the leather care industry. All of them have benefits and drawbacks attached to them. Some contain harsh chemicals and some are all natural, like Dropforge Leather Care. I admire Brian, Luke, and Bob for creating Dropforge and entering into the leather care arena. I definitely like their product. They’re making some great strategic alliances with several highly respected leather companies too – so, their product is definitely proving itself worthy.

Next day – they’re looking much more loved!

Having an all natural, eco-friendly, safe cleaner and conditioner that’s safe to use on small and large leather products is fantastic. We’ve had several people email us recently looking for a viable product to use on leather furniture and it seems like Dropforge fits that need very well. One of these days maybe we’ll venture into reviewing leather furniture and will be able to test it first hand. In seeing how well it worked on my great, but abused boots, I imagine it will work extremely well on furniture.

Next day, definitely a marked improvement…leather feels much more supple.

Next day impressions: I’m sold. My boots look much more loved now. There is no greasy residue on them and they look much, much better. They feel much more supple too. Due to the lack of conditioning on these boots, I’m actually going to apply another coat of Dropforge Leather Care’s Cream to them. I think one more application will put the boots in marvelous condition.

There’s a little less than a week left on their Kickstarter campaign. They have several great reward packages set up. We encourage you to back these guys (I did) and in return, you’ll receive some very high quality leather care products. I’m sure I’m not the only dude with a pair of boots that need some attention (or saddles, messenger bags, leather furniture, etc, etc.). Your leather products will thank you and you’ll definitely feel better about yourself after you’ve conditioned them too! Or, if you prefer, you can order products directly from their website:

DropForge Leather Care – All Natural Leather Cleaner, Conditioner & Protectant

There’s a new Kickstarter in town and this one’s a little different than the others we’ve talked about in the past. This one isn’t for great leather products, but rather for products designed to make your leather products look better and last well.


Dropforge Leather Care is owned and operated by Bryan and his son Luke. Based in Clarkston, Washington this duo has been involved in the leather industry since 1993. As a result of their experiences, they have now formulated their own line of cleaners, conditioners, and protectants. One of the great things about all of their products is they are chemical free and all natural.

Learn more about their great product line, watch their video, and then back these guys and their company on Kickstarter. In exchange for backing the first leather care company to be featured on Kickstarter you’ll be rewarded with excellent, all natural leather care products.

Dropforge Products

Be on the lookout here too because we have some of their products heading in for testing. We’re looking forward to checking out how well their products work on a pair of Danner hunting boots that are in dire need of some TLC. Stay tuned!

Boot Wax from OtterWax – $15.95

Otter Wax is an all-natural leather care product based and designed in Portland, Oregon. Portland is a fitting place for such a product to come to light — all-natural leather care products? I would be surprised if you thought of any place other than Portland after reading those words.

Made in Portland, Oregon.
Made in Portland, Oregon.

boot wax

OtterWax Boot Wax Review03

Boot wax by Otter Wax is an all-natural heavy duty leather sealant. As with most leather care products, the company keeps the formula very secret. Otter Wax does, at least, reveal that their Boot Wax is based around beeswax and lanolin as well as the fact that it is all-natural, so if you are looking for a non-chemical based product you have stumbled on one of the best.

A test of Boot Wax in Lake Coeur d'Alene -- Works like a charm!
A test of Boot Wax in Lake Coeur d’Alene — Works like a charm!

Lanolin comes from the wool of sheep, and it helps seal in moisture while also repelling water.

benefits of using beeswax/natural products for leather care

It is a fact that is often overlooked, but leather is the skin of an animal, a carbon based organic material. So, if you were going to moisturize your own face, would you use a petroleum based product or would you use a natural moisturizer? It is a very simple answer that I am sure most of you would agree with: the less chemicals the better. It is the same story for leather care.

Beeswax is a natural hydrating agent which increases moisture retention. When leather is hydrated properly, it does not absorb water as easily–it has no need to absorb water as it has enough. Beeswax attaches itself to the fibers of the leather itself and creates a long-lasting and natural bond which will repel water and moisturize the leather. Though petroleum products work, it seems to me that they would break down the fibers rather than strengthen them. I believe that you should use the same care that you would for your own skin as you would your leather.

application – what you’ll need

The application process of Boot Wax is incredibly simple. And, really, you don’t even need a kit. All you really need is a soft cloth and the wax itself. If you have a brush, that is great, but you can do without if need be.

Before you start the process, make sure your boots/shoes are not cold. They do not need to be hot, but the process works better if they are at least warm; the reason being that leather has pores, just like our skin, and they dilate when they are warm, making the leather more absorbant.

You should also have time–preferably overnight– to give the boots a chance to set properly. The wax works best when it is able to sit for 6-8 hours.

Be sure to spot test, as this will darken the leather. Apply a little bit to a spot on the boot and make sure you are okay with this darkening. I personally think the leather looks better when it is properly moisturized, but it is definitely a personal preference.

step 1

Rub evenly in circular motions. Get a thin layer of wax over the entire boot; go two or three times over.
Rub evenly in circular motions. Get a thin layer of wax over the entire boot; go two or three times over.

Get some light on your boots, so you can see what you are doing. Rub your cloth in the wax and apply the wax to the boot in a thin, even layer. Rub in circular motions making sure to pay attention to the seams and welt. Two or three layers would be best.

step 2

Rub off any excess wax with a soft cloth.
Rub off any excess wax with a soft cloth.

Rub off any excess wax and then let them sit overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Be sure to leave them in a room that is at least room temperature; this allows the pores to stay open and the wax to permeate deeper into the boot.

step 3

Buff those babies.
Buff those babies.

With either your cloth or with a brush, buff the leather until it is slightly shiny. This is important as it creates a final barrier between water and the leather, which will improve the water repellency of the leather.

Slight color darkening -- I actually like it quite a bit. Personal preference.
Slight color darkening — I actually like it quite a bit. Personal preference.

BestLeather conclusion

Looking good!
Looking good!

This is by far my favorite sealant. By far. I do not feel great about applying petroleum based products to my beautiful leather products — it does not feel right. Before Otter Wax, I used SnoSeal, another beeswax based sealant, but it does not come anywhere close to the protection of Boot Wax.

At $15.95 for a 4oz tin, you are getting a fantastic product that smells great, looks great, and does a great job of protecting and conditioning your leather. For $27.95, you get the whole kit and kaboodle.

OtterWax Boot Wax Review02


How To Work With Wax Bloom On Chromexcel Leather

This is a syndicated post from the blog of Helm Boots discussing how to capitalize on the white waxy coating Chromexcel boots can get.

Chromexcel bloom


So you’ve had your HELM Boots for a little bit. They’ve probably made you happy and maybe you’ve gotten some compliments. Then all of a sudden you go to pull them out of the closet and hey… what’s that white powdery stuff on the leather? It doesn’t appear on all of HELMs leathers but the boots that use Chromexcel from Horween (the Ben – pictured, the Marion Olive, The Sam Navy, The Railroad and The Reid Brown) will probably show it at some point. Chromexcel leather is notoriously fatty and waxy. It’s what makes it so desirable and pliable and durable and lux and long lasting and… The Horween tannery adds a lot of oil and wax to the leather during the tanning process. Sometimes this oil and wax and grease will migrate through the leather and react with air on the surface to crystallize and that’s what causes the Bloom or Spue to appear. It will look like a powdery or chalky substance on the surface of the leather. You can see it in the above pic at the top of the shaft and around the lace eyelets. The amount of wax used in tanning along with exposure to high temps, humidity, air and light all contribute to Bloom.

Helm Boots Chromexcel Bloom Article2

Bloom can be removed just by a simple brush with the horsehair brush or a rub with a shoe cloth. Our Ben Sample at the HELM Office Bloomed this month and we buffed it to a high shine with our horsehair paddle brush and nothing else. You don’t generally need to add anything to these Chromexcel leathers as they are so nourished already during the production process.

Learn more about the famous chromexcel leather HERE.

Do you have any photos of Chromexcel leather blooming?

Conditioning / Refreshing Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots With Lexol Leather Cleaner And Obenaufs Conditioner

These boots haven’t seen conditioner for months. Shame on me. It’s about time they get some attention. I figured I would document the process photographically so you can see the transformation and effect produced by the products. Continue reading “Conditioning / Refreshing Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots With Lexol Leather Cleaner And Obenaufs Conditioner”

Demonstration Of The Darkening Effect That Neatsfoot Oil Has On Light Colored Leather

I treated my tan leather motorcycle jacket entirely with Neatsfoot Oil to condition and darken it.

The transition was from a very light tan dry leather to a rich honey colored leather which looks very desirable. If you don’t want your leather to darken do not use Neatsfoot Oil.

Here is how it turned out:

Untreated and needing conditioning

Neatsfoot darkening demonstration on light leather4

partially conditioned

Neatsfoot darkening demonstration on light leather3

immediately after being fully conditioned, some especially dry parts got multiple passes

Neatsfoot darkening demonstration on light leather2one week later
Neatsfoot darkening demonstration on light leather1

Lexol Leather Conditioner Review

You can see Obenauf’s and Chamberlain’s leather conditions in action. There are a lot of options in leather conditioning but Lexol is very good at a very good price.

The reason you should condition your leather is because leather is made of microscopic strands of fibers that rub on each other. If the leather is dry then the strands will literally cut each other, If the leather is lubricated then the strands can flex without damage. Old organs have leather bellows and many quality leather bellows still function perfectly after 100 years of proper conditioning.


Lexol Leather Conditioner is made purely from emulsified tanning oils. Those most common source of emulsified tanning oil is animals brains, literally. Lexol won’t say what their conditioner is made from so you draw your own conclusions.


The method of application is simple, one dry washcloth with a dab of leather conditioner until the conditioner runs out. For some wax based conditioners it is important to heat the leather to ensure the wax melts and saturates the leather, this is not necessary with the Lexol Leather Conditioner as the liquid soaks into the leather nicely at room temperature.


Below you will see the process of taking leather in rough shape and restoring it as much as possible. There are also pictures of scratches in full grain leather that have been treated with Lexol Leather Conditioner.

Here we have a desperately dry pair of Ariat Boots. They have not been conditioned in quite a while and have developed severe cracking.

Above you see the difference between unconditioned and conditioned leather. It took 6 minutes to completely treat one boot as the leather was very thirsty. The boot took approximately 20 doses of conditioner.

These are light scratches in full grain chestnut leather. The best color.

Here are the same light scratches after the Lexol Leather Conditioner has been applied. From a distance the leather has a nice sheen after application which fades as the conditioner dries. The conditioner slightly darkens the leather temporarily as well.

The texture change of the scuff remains but the scuffed leather acquires a more lubricated look. The sheen fades as the conditioner dries without leaving a greasy residue.

This scuff easily came out with one application of Lexol Conditioner.

 As you can see, the scuff is nearly gone.

This Chestnut Backpack looks dramatically better after the top was conditioned.


With high quality leather you should not have to condition it often, however, it will last longer if you do and the patina that develops with worn but conditioned leather is beautiful.

The basic rule is when your leather is dry, changes in leather’s color, is exposed to significant sun, gets wet, then condition your leather.

Where to Buy

The larger bottles of Lexol are far better value and quite a while. The one liter bottle will last you many applications.

Lexol is a fantastic value leather conditioner at $12 a liter as opposed to the normal $20 from the competition.

Buy one liter here on Amazon for ~$12.