Keeping your work boots clean is one of the simplest and most important things you can do to extend the life of your boots. Mother Nature and job-site materials and hazards want to destroy your boots; don't let them! The leather uppers on your boots will want to soak up everything in your workplace environment, causing the leather to crack. Having a consistent cleaning and conditioning routine will help prevent this. Your boots are a tool that need to be cared for.
You'll need some boot oil, possibly mink oil. In this episode I'll be using Black Rock leather conditioner. You'll also need a clean rag and some warm soapy water and maybe a toothbrush or a horse-hair brush.
- Step 1: Remove the laces.
- Step 2: Warm soapy water, clean shop rag, just clean off any excess dirt or grime on the boot. Make sure to get all areas inside the tongue gusset. Pay special attention to the welt area.
Pro tip: If you have a lot of buildup in the welt area, grab a toothbrush, preferably not the one you use in the morning, and give it a good little brushing.
- Step 3: We've got our clean boots, they're dried up. Let's start applying some conditioner. Simply apply with a rag or your hands and make sure you get around everywhere on the leather upper evenly. And simply wipe off any excess. After you're done wiping off the excess, just set them out overnight, let them dry out a little bit, put the laces back in, and you'll be ready to go.
How often you condition your leather boots really depends on how often you wear your work boots and what kind of climate you live in. If your work boots are exposed to hot and dry weather or tons of rain and mud, they'll need to be cleaned and conditioned more often to maintain the leather quality. Applying a good leather conditioner each month will help the leather maintain its natural oil so it can stay soft and supple. Conditioning leather every 3 to 6 months is acceptable for boots that don't experience vigorous wear and tear on a daily basis.
One of the main reasons leather cracks is because it dries out. Leather is a porous material and when elements like dirt and oil seep into the pores of leather, it causes them to dry out, irritating the dye and texture of your boots, and causing discoloration and cracks. The best way to prevent leather from cracking is to keep it clean and conditioned. It's easy to take your work boots off at the door and forget about them, but you can increase the longevity of your boots by taking simple preventative steps and diligently cleaning them.
The best way to protect your leather work boots is to clean and condition them frequently and store them indoors. Leaving boots outdoors to be exposed to rain, direct sun, and any other elements will wear them out quickly. If you know your boots are going to be exposed to moisture often, you can also apply a leather waterproofing agent to protect them. Make sure you give your boots plenty of time to dry out before applying conditioner or waterproofer so the moisture doesn't become trapped in the leather.