Monday, January 26, 2015

Brace Your Boots: How to Weatherproof Your Boots for Winter

Out on the west coast we've got clear and sunny skies, but our friends on the east coast aren't quite so lucky. Looks like snow--and a lot of it--is coming your way. In addition to stocking up the pantry and investing in a few more wool socks, it's time to clean-up and weatherproof those leather boots again. Stay in cuddled up with Netflix if you can, but if you're forced to go outside, make sure your boots are ready.

Step 1: Clean 'Em Up

First things first, clean off the damage winter had previously wreaked on your boots with a little saddle soap. Using a damp cloth and a little saddle soap, rub the cloth in circular motions into the leather to remove salt stains, water stains, and buff out some scratches. This will darken the color of the boots, but they should fade back to close to their original color as they dry.

Step 2: Conditioning

To keep your boots in top shape for as long as possible, it's best to rub in some mink oil or leather lotion to keep the leather moist and supple. The intense cold followed by dry indoor heat isn't doing your boots any favors this winter, so give those beauties a drink. Note that mink oil will darken the color of your boots significantly (especially if they've endured a few seasons of dryness), so applying a test patch on an easily disguised corner may be best on light colored leather boots. Check out how mink oil transformed these vintage Fryes:

Step 3: Color and Shine

After the leather lotion or mink oil has soaked in and had some time to dry, go ahead and apply some standard shoe polish and/or shine to fill in any remaining nicks or scratches and restore luster to the leather. This step is definitely optional. For some boots, saddle soap and mink oil are enough (like those Fryes above), for others, polish helps significantly with restoration. If you're unsure, try a test patch.

Step 4: Use Protection

If you choose to ignore all the other tips and tricks on this blog, take this one to heart: use weatherproofing spray on all of your shoes and boots. If you live in a snowy or rainy environment, this is a no-brainer. Spray them over once paying special attention to the seams and soles, let them dry, then spray them over again.  Once they've dried, you're ready to head out into the weather!
Even for those of us who live in sunny climates, however, a good spray down with weatherproofing spray can help protect your feet from stray sprinklers or spilled glasses.

Exceptions: Suede, Patent Leather

If you're cleaning and protecting suede, make sure to use products specifically labeled 'for suede' to avoid damaging the more delicate material.

Patent leather also requires a little special care, and can be polished up with some petroleum jelly. Most weatherproofing sprays should be fine on patent.


Whew. That was a lot of information. Sound like too much trouble? Skip the fuss and opt for some weatherproof boots like the Caird or Alice from Bos & Co. These boots have a waterproof lining build into the shoe, as well as a weatherproof silicone coating. No soap/oil/polish/spray required.

Have a Happy Snow Day!


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Woowalkers said...

Thanks for the tip with the oil, I have a pair of old winter boots that I want to wear again. -Jenn

Alan Gould said...

I have a pair of wooden clog sandals that I want to keep safe from water. I’ll give your tips a try, thanks a lot!

Alan Gould said...

Thank you for these tips. I have my Swedish wooden clog boots to take care of and your tips might be just what I need. Very informative.

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