Everyone has at least one pair of leather boots in their shoe collection, whether it be a fancy lace-up like the Red Wing Shoes 6-inch Iron Ranger or a durable slip-on like the Blundstone Chisel Toe. We dress them up, dress them down and put them to the test through all kinds weather and terrain. From salted, icy roads in the winter to muddy puddles in the spring, to hot and humid summer days, our favourite leather boots can take a lot.
Once you find a pair of leather boots that fits your feet (and that you love), you’ll want them to last forever. Understandable, but the truth is nothing good lasts forever. With proper care though, you can extend the life of your favourite leather boots.
There is a wide variety of leather treatment products available to keep your favourite boots looking brand new, season after season, regardless of how much wear they’ve had previously. Some boots come with a small packet of leather treatment included; for others, you’ll have to purchase the treatment separately. Before you start looking for a leather care package or treatment, it’s important to know if your particular boot requires specific care or a special type of treatment product.
Found the appropriate leather care product your boot requires? Be it a spray, an oil or a paste, you can get on with the leather boot care process. Let’s take a step-by-step look.
Step 1: The Cleaning
If you’re working with a brand new pair of boots that have not seen feet or pavement, they don’t necessarily need the full clean, although it is crucial that you wipe away any dust or dirt from the box. This would entail a Light Cleaning.
If you’re going into your second year with your favourite boots, you’ll need to give them a good cleaning before applying the treatment. This would entail a Deep Cleaning.
The first step in the cleaning process is to remove the laces and any other removable pieces (if there are any). From there, it depends on the above criteria.
For new out-of-the-box boots or lightly-used boots: the next step is to take a soft-bristled shoe brush and, using warm water, remove any stuck-on dirt, salt, sand, etc. This is also a good time to check the soles for rocks or other items that may have gotten wedged in the treads or lugs. Once everything looks proper, take a clean, dry cloth and wipe away any excess dirt or dust.
If your boots have seen a lot of mud and other sticky substances, you may need a little reinforcement for the initial cleaning. For heavily soiled areas, apply a leather cleaner like the Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Footwear Clean gel. Once the surface is cleaned up, you can wipe away the cleaner; then let the boot sit to dry before continuing.
Step 2: The Conditioner
This step will help preserve the finish and life of your boots. Like human hair, leather boots need a little conditioning love to get (or keep) that lush and healthy glow.
Most leather conditioners can be applied using your fingers, a soft cloth or even a sponge. They come in the form of oil, or the package will say ‘conditioner’. It is important to note that some boots will require a specific leather conditioner, so if you see this indicator, be sure that the one you are choosing will work for your boot.
Step 3: The Protection
Lastly, you want to protect your boots and all the cleaning and conditioning you’ve just taken the time to do. You might be wearing the boots in wet environments, so a waterproofing treatment would be beneficial. Otherwise, a simple leather protector will do the trick. Once your boots are looking shiny and new, leave them a while so the protective products can dry and settle.
When they’re dry and ready, you can slip on your like-new leather boots and flaunt your handiwork for yet another year of wear.