Leather Work Boot Care: A Guide to Breaking in, Cleaning, & Maintaining Them

Leather work boot care is essential for having comfortable, clean-looking, and long-lasting boots. Find out everything there is to know about taking care of them.

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Leather boots are ideal for construction sites with wet conditions and are one of the most popular choices when it comes to comfort. If you couldn’t resist buying a new pair of leather boots for work or just can’t let go of your old ones, here is everything you need to know to make them last longer.

How to Break in New Leather Boots

When it comes to work boots, comfort and foot health are far more important than looks. Therefore, before you get to work wearing a  new pair of leather boots, remember to break them in first.

There are countless folk stories on how to break in your new work boots, which may sound weird, but are quite functional. For example, putting your new leather boots inside your fridge overnight helps stretch them. For effective results, you can put water bags inside the boots. While the bags freeze and stretch, the boots will stretch as well. 

If freezing your boots is not your cup of tea, then try wearing them around the house for some days. Just wear the socks you’d wear at work so your boots stretch enough. The warmth the shoes get will help stretch the leather material. 

You can also use a boot stretcher to put your boots in the shape that fits you best. Or, go by stuffing them with sock balls or simply by wearing multiple sock layers when you have them on. If that makes you uncomfortable somehow, then use a leather conditioner. That will get the fibers soft and you can adjust the size and shape as you wish.

How to Waterproof Leather Work Boots

Once you’ve broken in your leather work boots, now you can waterproof them. Knowing how to waterproof your boots affects the boot life. One of the ingredients that are handy to this matter are oils. To waterproof the boots, apply the oil to a fiber cloth and use it to rub the boot. You needn’t put great amounts of oils on the leather, especially when they are mink, mineral, or neatsfoot. 

If you don’t prefer using oil, then you can choose to waterproof your leather work boots with sprays. Silicone Polymer Spray or Acrylic Copolymer Spray work well for waterproofing. You just need to clean and dry your boots initially and then spray them from a considerable distance. 

Likewise, creams and pastes are used to waterproof your leather boots. You should use a liberal amount of cream or paste and rub it around the boot with a cloth. This is beneficial to the boots since it makes them waterproof and pliable. 

Another popular method of waterproofing leather boots is using waxes. You can use natural beeswax and apply it to the boots by rubbing it with a cloth or your fingers.  

How to Clean Leather Boots

While working in construction sites or similar workplaces may not allow for having squeaky-clean boots all the times, it is important to regularly clean them so dirt or or dust doesn’t build up.

To clean your leather boots, start by getting rid of the dirt and the crusty mud beneath and around them. If the dirt is dust and mud only, using soap and water only would do the work. You can rub the boots with a microfiber cloth after having damped it into the soap and water mixture. 

But, if dust and mud are not the issue, but rather an oil stain, then you might want to use baking soda or cornstarch to clean the boots. You can apply it on the boots with a rag and let it soak the baking soda or cornstarch overnight. Make sure you take off the residue with a brush or rag the next day.

For ink stains, you can use alcohol, or just blot the boot with nail polish. And, if you notice any scuff marks, use non-gel toothpaste. The process is simple: apply, rub, and wipe off. 

How to Maintain Leather Boots

Now that boot season is officially here, some tips on how to maintain them properly and make them last longer are much needed.

Condition the leather

If you’re working in cold weather conditions, your skin will get dry, let alone your boots. That’s why we should use conditioner on the leather boots to moisturize them. By doing so, they will both look shiny and will be more durable. You should repeat the moisturizing process regularly to notice the results.

Buff your leather boots

We do not buff out leather boots for looks only. Well, looks play a major role, but we buff them because we want them to last longer. The shoe polish fills up the oils that are gone from the boots. When you apply shoe polish it stops them from getting saturated because of water or conditioners. So, if you buff your leather boots regularly, you can get to wear them in 10 winters in a row. 

Add a rubber sole

If you have a hard time finding another pair of boots that fit you like your old ones, then add a rubber sole to them. Adding a protective rubber sole under the actual boot sole extends your boots’ life. This will save you some extra money as well.

Use boot trees for maintaining shape

Are you a fan of tall boots? Then, this trick is especially for you. When summer comes, don’t just lock your boots in a closet, or let them sit somewhere. Store them as you should by using boot trees for them to maintain their initial shape. This is how you extend your leather boots’ lifespan. 

Repair salt or snow stains

Living in a country with harsh, snowy winters could damage your leather boots. Prevent the salt lines by using a salt stain remover after walking in the snow and salty roads in the area that you live. When you apply this stain remover, make sure you let it dry overnight to see the positive results. 

If you happen to own at least a pair of leather work boots, then it’s important to know the tips and tricks on how to maintain them properly. Coming across the proper ways on how to clean, waterproof, moisturize, and break in them, will surely make your boots last longer.


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