Caring for your hiking boots, hunting boots, or whatever you have on your feet, is extremely important to keep your feet healthy and your mood on top. Because who likes wet cold feet or even trench foot? Boots are an expensive investment and should last for several years. Here we go through step by step how to take care of a pair of leather boots.
Something many people don’t know is that you should take care of your boots after each trip. A boot can actually get damaged from being left dirty between trips. And you shouldn’t wait until you get wet socks as the signal for you to take care of the shoes. Regular care is the key to being able to wear your boots for many years.
Before you start, it is important to be sure of what material the boots are made of. There are, for example, nubuck, suede, and leather boots. There are also boots with Gore-Tex membranes. These may require a different method than the one we will describe. This particular guide is aimed at classic leather boots.
1. Wash or brush off the leather boots
Before you start greasing the boots, they must be cleaned. This is to get rid of the dirt that can otherwise penetrate and clog the pores in the leather. This is very important because otherwise, the fat does not penetrate as well into the leather and the end result is negatively affected. So start by removing the shoelaces. While doing so, take the opportunity to inspect for damages. Because it’s not fun when a shoelace breakes during a ride.
Depending on how dirty your boots are, you can choose between a couple of different approaches:
- If the boots are only slightly dirty and the dirt has dried, it is often enough to brush them off with a medium-hard brush. This is fast and is the most common method during the summer.
- If they are very sticky, wash the boots with a cloth under lukewarm running water or some water in a bucket. You may need to supplement with a leather soap if the boots are very dirty.
2. Dry the boots
Unfortunately, many people make mistakes here. Never set a pair of leather boots in a drying cabinet on high heat nor near a stove. The high heat accelerates the drying and causes the leather to crack faster. Instead, allow the boots to dry at room temperature. If the washing made the boots soak, you can advantageously fill them with paper the first time to speed up the drying.
3. Internal cleaning
The interior cleaning is not to be forgotten. Lift out the insole and shake out any sand and other loose debris. Then take a brush and brush out the boots thoroughly. The cause of bad odors is likely dead skin deposits and salt crystals that cause bacterial growth.
If needed, you can wash the inside of the boot as well. Rinse thoroughly with running water, then allow to dry. We recommend that you fill the boots with newspaper after this. As it´s great at absorb moisture. But remember to change the paper after a couple of hours.
4. Grease the leather boots
When the boots have dried completely, it’s time to grease them. We choose leather grease over wax as it cares better in-depth and thus maximizes the life span of the boot. Depending on the fat you use (depending on how good the ingredients are), it can be beneficial to apply the fat with your fingers. By doing so you warm up the fat and helps it penetrate the leather more easily.
Apply the grease in batches, and do not forget all the nooks and crannies around the shoelaces and in the notch between the outer sole and the leather. It’s common that people miss this area. When you are satisfied, you set the boots aside so that they have a chance to absorb the fat properly before you use them. How long it takes depends on the temperature, humidity, and much more.
Now you know how to care for your leather boots. Feel free to make this a habit so you do not have to buy new boots because the leather has dried out. It also ensures that the boots can protect your feet as they should when you are out in the woods and on the trail!
Do not miss our video about caring for leather boots!
The video is in Swedish but with English subtitles.