With so many boot options during the cold-weather season, investing in a sturdy pair not only steps up your style, but secures your path against the elements. From handcrafted premium leather, to medium and lower grade designs—proper care is key to preserving their lifespan. Take a crash course with our boot care cheat sheet to help conquer your stroll through the rain, sleet and snow.
Editor’s note: The following applies to everyday leather boots—not steel toes or construction-wear.
1. Get properly acquainted
In order to keep your boots in tip-top shape, you need to know what type of leather they’re crafted in to acquire the supporting products. The soles can be replaced, the stitching can be redone, but if the uppers dry out and crack—repairing is slim to none. If your purchase came from an independent/specialty retailer, chances are they’ll kick down plenty of product knowledge (in person or on their website). If not, check the tags (often found on the inner tongue) and/or look up your style online for the material content.
2. Waterproofing is a must
Even if they’re brand new and pre-treated, waterproofing your boots is a crucial step beginning with the first wear. Depending on the finish, (oil-tanned treatments need an oil-based coating, whereas chrome-tanned leather needs a boot wax). Use a soft cloth to dispense the product evenly into the leather. Through day-to-day wear, if you notice your boots are beginning to absorb water, repeat!
3. Maintenance pays off
Although avoiding rain or snow is ideal, it’s not realistic. To keep stains and salt lines from forming, take action as soon as possible once indoors. Spot-clean your boots with a damp cloth, (or a soft bristled brush) along with cleaner specifically made for leather to help rid any grime. Be sure to do this before adding any polish or conditioner. If you’re dealing strictly with salt stains, replace the cleaner with vinegar and gently dab the stain out—then reapply the areas minus the vinegar using only a damp clean cloth.
4. Seal it with care
Your boots have covered some ground, and now that they’re all cleaned up they deserve some extra love. Applying a leather conditioner with a soft cloth keeps the leather soft, supple and continues to help with water resistance. Depending on your environment and amount of wear, cleaning and conditioning them every few weeks should be a best practice. Once conditioned, allow your boots to dry naturally (avoiding long periods of direct sunlight), and then wipe off any excess conditioner.
Now that you’ve stomped down the basics, you two should have a long and healthy life ahead. Be kind to your boots and in return, they’ll hold your ground.
Photos courtesy of Helm Boots