Good boots are expensive, but replacement costs can add up even more if you fail to maintain your investment. Fortunately, maintaining them so they’ll last a lifetime doesn’t have to drain your bank account. The following tips on taking care of your leather boots can ensure they’re clean, soft, and ready for wear before you are.
Oil or Polish Your Boots
If you have unfinished boots or those that don’t state they’re water resistant, you’ll need to tend to that yourself. Buy some decent boot oil or conditioning cream. A cheap bottle of Neatsfoot Oil will work just fine. You don’t have to get fancy here. This can also help leather that has started cracking. Apply the oil or cream with a clean cloth or foam applicator. Let the oil sink into the leather for a few hours or overnight before you wear them. Reapply annually or as needed. This keeps boots looking new and free of stains.
Brush Your Boots Clean
It’s amazing what we step in. Your boots are not self-cleaning, so they’ll need some help from their owner. Cleaning them regularly – whenever there’s obvious dirt – will go a long way toward making them last. Get a cheap plastic hand brush from the Dollar Store or WalMart. Again, being fancy isn’t an issue here. Wait until the boot dirt is dry. Line the floor space with newspaper or blankets that you can toss or wash. Place the dirty boots on the protective covering and brush the dirt off of the boots. Then toss or wash the dirt catcher.
Some stains are harder to remove than others. Leather boots won’t shrivel up and die if they get wet. If there’s a dirt mark or beverage stain, use a washcloth and basic soap and water to remove the smudge. If you get winter salt on your boots, remove it with a rag dipped in vinegar and water. And if grease gets on your boots, blot the excess substance, sprinkle the mark with cornstarch, let it sit overnight, and clean it with soap and water. Let the boots dry in all cases, and reapply oil or conditioning cream when they’re clean once more.
Store Your Boots Properly
Wrinkles and creases occur when skin scrunches in the same position repeatedly. Leather is skin, so it does the same thing human skin does. When stored inappropriately, the leather can mar, tear, crack, and look old before its time. But its not just a visual issue. Mistreated or neglected leather can warp permanently and dig into your feet or legs while wearing the boots. Sure boots are soft and easily stow-able. But they’ll suffer for carelessness. To extend the life of your boots, love, don’t shove. Give them their own space in your closet. You can buy specialty shoe trees to help keep their shape. Or you can stuff cardboard, stiff paper, or even one liter bottles into the shaft. This doesn’t have to be done all the time. But if you’re storing them for weeks or months at a time, this really helps.
Snag a Cobbler
Shoe repair places are far less common than they used to be. And even if you can find someone who offers repairs, chances are they’ll pressure you to just buy a new pair of boots instead. But there are still mom and pop shops off the beaten trail. A quick internet or phone book search can hook you up with the perfect cobbler. Boots aren’t always perfect off the bat. They can have loose stitching, a wobbly heel, or a stubborn zipper. If you order the perfect pair of seasonal footwear and find an issue once they arrive, you’ll likely decide to just return them. But for around the same amount of money (assuming returns aren’t free), a repair shop can fix the issues so you get to keep the boots of your dreams for a lifetime.