Good quality work boots can be quite an investment. Since you most probably want to make the best of it, and wear them for longer, you need to take the time to take proper care for them too. Proper care and maintenance for your work boots will make them last longer and will improve their comfort and performance, which is necessary in order to do your job efficiently and safety.

Care and maintenance tips for leather footwear

Good quality leather work footwear needs regular maintenance in order to reduce wear and tear and improve their comfort. Here are several simple steps you need to follow in order to make sure that your leather boots for work will serve you well for a long time:

  1. Make sure you take the time to clean your leather boots on a regular basis. Use a cloth with some leather cleaner to wipe them from any dust or dirt. Use lukewarm water or soap water to clean the soles and rims. For better cleaning, remove the laces and insoles before brushing all the dirt off. Do not be tempted to leave your dirty boots as is.
  2. Condition the leather footwear with leather conditioner, beeswax or mink oil. Apply it with a soft cloth and rub it in well, especially around the seas of the boots. Since leather is a natural material, it can dry up and crack or start peeling, which is why conditioning on a regular basis is a must.
  3. If your boots get wet, make sure you let them dry properly. Fill them with newspapers or dry cloths and let them absorb as much of the dampness as possible. Do not dry the boots in close proximity to a powerful heat source or directly under the bright sunlight because this can cause the leather to dry and crack and you’ll have to toss or repair them. Condition the boots after they are completely dry. Do not wear them for at least 24 hours if they are excessively wet.
  4. Air out your boots after work. Leave them outdoors but not under direct sunlight.
  5. Polish them with a soft cloth and buff them with circular strokes. If you need to shine them, we have a separate guide on that.
  6. Impregnate the boots with a leather impregnator or waterproofing product.
  7. To check whether your boots are still well impregnated and water repellant, spray them with some water. If it beads up – then they are OK. If it no longer does, it is time to impregnate them again. You may want to remove the waterproof coating once a year with a damp cloth and leather soap. Apply a new coat of wax generously and let the boots sit overnight. On the next morning, use a soft cloth to remove any excess wax. Even if your insoles are Gore-Tex, always impregnate them as well by removing and spraying them, or spraying directly into the boots.

Maintenance and care for suede, nubuck and other specialty leather work boots

  1. Clean your nubuck or suede boots by brushing any dirt from the uppers with the help of a rubber or plastic tipped brush. You should do that as soon as possible in order to prevent it from getting embedded deeper in the suede or nubuck material. Use soap or clean water to wipe off any dirt and mud from the soles and the sole rims.
  2. For conditioning – use a specialized nubuck conditioner. Do not condition suede boots.
  3. Waterproof your boots with special impregnators for nubuck or leather. This will help close the pores in the material and will keep them dry next time you wear them in wet conditions. Make sure you remove your insoles and spray them with impregnator too.
  4. If your boots get wet, you should stuff them with newspapers for 30 minutes to ensure that excess water is absorbed faster. Keep your boots away from heat sources, as too much heat can cause them to become fragile and crack.
  5. Polish your boots with shoe wax or balm by using circular motions with a soft cloth.
  6. If your suede boots get stained make sure you use a solvent based cleaner and remove the stain as quickly as possible in order to prevent permanent staining. For stubborn stains, you can use fine sandpaper to gently rub the stain off. Do not rub too hard, as you can damage the suede!

Maintenance tips and proper care for work boots made of other materials

There are work boots made by leading manufacturers such as Wolverine which are made of waterproof alternatives for leather. This “performance leather” is lighter, more flexible, breathable and scuff resistant. This type of material also requires cleaning, conditioning and polishing, but overall needs much less maintenance than cowhide leather. For more information about the proper care and cleaning of your work boots, make sure you contact the manufacturer for maintenance tips which will help keep your work boots in pristine condition for longer.

In order to make sure that your work boots last longer, it is strongly recommended that you have at least two pairs to interchange, in order to allow each pair to air out and dry off completely before wearing it to work once again.