Think about the abuse your work boots likely go through daily. Exposed to the elements, they endure everything from mud, sand, and dirt to chemicals, toxins, and bodily fluids. Work boots are built to be tough. They have to be. But even the toughest boots will deteriorate over time when faced with daily wear and tear. However, that does not mean you cannot do something about it. Treat your work boots well and they will last a long time. We have all had that one perfect pair of work boots that offer ultimate protection and comfort. Here is how you can care for and maintain them, so they have a long life.
Conditioning Your Work Boots
In terms of comfort and protection, leather is a great material. But it does need to be properly cared for so that it lasts longer and is able to handle the daily grind. Leather soaks up what it encounters, including water and fluids, dirt, and grime. This can cause the leather to dry out and crack.
That is why you want to condition the boots properly. Your specific work conditions and environment will play a role in how often you need to condition them. If you work indoors in dry conditions, you may not have to condition them as often as if you work primarily outdoors in the elements.
For harsher conditions, apply a good leather conditioner once per month. This helps the leather maintain its natural oil and ensures a soft feel. If your boots do not experience as much wear and tear, you can do this step anywhere from every three to six months.
Cleaning Your Work Boots
This isn’t a complicated process, but actively cleaning your work boots will go miles in terms of prolonging their life and making them more comfortable for everyday use. Stock your cleaning kit with some boot oil, a clean rag, and a brush. Doesn’t have to be fancy. A horse-hair brush or even a toothbrush will do. You will also need some warm water.
First things first – remove the laces and insoles before you start cleaning. In fact, while we’re here, let’s talk about insoles for a moment. They take a lot of wear and tear and absorb a lot of moisture. Just think of not only water but hours of foot sweat, too. Yeah, you’re getting the picture. That is why it is a good idea to periodically replace your insoles with new ones. You might even find that just doing this makes them feel new again.
Use your rag to clean off all the excess dirt, dust, and grime. Take your time and get into all the crevices and inside the tongue gusset. Next, use the lukewarm water to clean the boots and help open their pores. Brush the leather with your brush, which helps revive the leather’s properties.
Let the boots dry thoroughly at room temperature. Do not, under any circumstances, put them near a heating source because it can burn the leather and cause it to dry out. Room temperature is fine.
Here it is a good idea to apply a water proofer and your conditioner. Make sure the boots are plenty dry. Take a rag or just your hand and apply the conditioner to all parts of the leather. Try and make sure you do so evenly. Wipe off any excess conditioner and let the boots dry out overnight.
Then you can put the laces and insoles back in and you are good to go.
If you are breaking in a new pair of leather work boots, remember to be patient. They often need a bit of time to break in and soften up. This is natural and there is no need to rush the process.