When boots become soaking wet, it is essential to dry them slowly. Removing the insoles and laces allows them to have plenty of air circulation. Stuffing lightly with dry newspaper helps them to retain their shape and to absorb water from the leather.
Russell Moccasin recommends replacing newspaper that becomes wet every half hour to speed the drying process. Once the paper removes the initial moisture, leave the boots open to continue drying. If the weather is fair, you can set them outside. Inside the house, you can use a fan to help speed the drying process without damaging the leather. A boot dryer that includes a fan without heat is another option. Avoid the temptation to dry boots by a fire or over a heating duct.
Russell Moccasin explains that heat, dry weather and caked-on mud are the main reasons leather breaks down prematurely. The presence of dirt and mud on the surface of the leather causes the drawing of oils from pores in the leather, leaving it dry and brittle. The untreated leather shrinks and the grit of the dirt and sand wear away the surface like sandpaper. To prevent this from happening, wash away the dirt using a soft brush and saddle soap.