Your work boots are an investment in both comfort and safety. Proper care not only extends the life of the boots and saves you money, it also ensures they are in peak condition to provide the protection your feet need when you are working. Whether you use your boots infrequently for personal projects or if you wear them daily on the job, these care tips will help your boots serve well for as long as possible.
Tip #1: Clean and Condition Regularly
Leather work boots require regular cleaning. This can be as often as at the end of every day for boots that spend a lot of time in dirt and muck, or as infrequently as once a month for boots that don't become heavily soiled.
To clean the boots, scrub them with a soft-bristled leather brush and leather cleaner. Rinse with a damp cloth and then let them dry. After they are dried, rub a leather conditioner into the boots using and soft cloth. The conditioner helps keep the leather moist and supple, which improves comfort and prevents cracking.
Tip #2: Protect Properly
Weatherproofing doesn't make the leather completely waterproof, since you still need the boots to breathe. It does repel excess water and it also helps keep the leather flexible. Weatherproofing can also protect against scuffs and other minor forms of damage. You can use a spray-on or rub-on protector. Boots that are exposed to water frequently may require reapplication as often as once monthly, while those that are kept relatively dry may only need treatment every few months. Follow the recommendations for application frequent listed on the label for the type of protector you use.
Tip #3: Store Correctly
Proper storage is vital, especially if you don't wear your work boots daily. Wooden shoe trees are the simplest way to keep the shape of your boots. These are adjusted to the size of your boots and insert inside. You can also stuff the boots with crumpled up newspaper to help hold their shape. If you are worried about the tops falling over and cracking, insert a cut down length of a pool noodle in each boot to hold the uppers upright.
Don't store boots outside. Keep them indoors in a cool, dry area. In a closet is great, but a work locker or entryway storage rack also works well.
Tip #4: Repair Promptly
Regularly cleaning and conditioning your boots will also help you spot problems early. Work boots can generally be resoled and repaired. If you notice the bottom wearing out, get them resoled before they develop holes. Some boot manufacturers will even offer reduced price resoling if you send the shoes in. Another thing to watch for is loose or broken threads on the upper, or cracking around the toe box. A skilled shoe repair shop can often fix these issues if you bring the shoes in before the damage become too extensive.
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