Looking After Your Safety Footwear
Looking After Your Safety Footwear
In this article I will be explaining the best ways to care for your work boots, ensuring that they last for as long as possible. This article will cover:
- Breaking in your boots
- Cleaning different types of leather
- Cleaning synthetic boots
- Extending the life of soles
- Dealing with scratches
First and foremost, choose the right boots. As a rule, go for good quality and make sure that you get all of the right features for your working environment. If you would like to know more about how to choose the best work footwear please see our previous article Choosing Your Work Boots
1. Breaking in Your Boots
Allow time for breaking in your new boots. I know it’s tempting to buy a new pair of boots and start wearing them for full days right away, but if you want to reduce the stress on both your feet and the boots, then break them in slowly.
Wear your new work boots for an hour or two every day for the first couple of weeks before you go for a full day. Your feet will usually be grateful of this approach but more importantly your boots will thank you for it too! Breaking in your boots too quickly can actually damage them. Whilst use of a shoe conditioner can help to avoid this type of damage, if you are spending a lot of money on a new pair of boots is it really worth the risk of rushing to break them in?
2. Cleaning Leather Boots
There are several different grades/types of leather, but the big difference in cleaning your boots falls between leather and suede or nubuck.
❏ The first step when cleaning leather is to wipe away dirt with a leather cleaner.
❏ When you are satisfied that the boots are clean, the next step is to use an oil to condition and waterproof your boots. The traditional oil for this is mink oil, but if you prefer an animal friendly version you can also use flaxseed or coconut oil. This should be rubbed on with a soft cloth ensuring you get right into the seams and creases, allowed to dry and then the excess should be wiped away with a clean cloth. This is a really important step (not just for waterproofing) as leather is much like human skin and exposure to weather, chemicals or dirt can cause it to dry and crack.
❏ Buffing the leather with the cloth you used in the last step should be done in a large circular motion.
❏ It is also worth finishing with a waterproofing agent if you are expecting to be in very wet conditions.
Cleaning Suede and Nubuck
❏ Suede and nubuck need to be cleaned in a different way. Begin by brushing off dirt with plastic or rubber brush (preferably sooner rather than later when the dirt is set in).
❏ Apply a spray cleaner for suede and nubuck (with nubuck you can also purchase a special conditioner).
❏ Apply a waterproofing spray (particularly important to keep suede in good condition).
3. Cleaning Synthetic Boots
It is highly recommended that you buy a protector spray for synthetic boots which should be applied when new and after cleaning, this will help to protect them from the elements. Regular cleaning is also important to ensure that dust and dirt are not sinking into the fibres of synthetic materials. Clean the outer of the boot with lukewarm water and either a cloth or a soft brush. Allow to dry naturally and then apply a waterproofing spray (make sure that you get the appropriate spray for the materials your boots are made of).
4. Extending the Life of Soles
Regularly changing insoles can really help to extend the life of your soles. Waterproof liners can also be purchased to further protect your boots if you work in continuously wet conditions. Cleaning the inside of your boots periodically with a damp cloth and a small amount of mild shampoo, then wiping with a clean damp cloth and allowing to dry naturally will prevent bacteria build up and deterioration from the inside.
5. Dealing with Scratches
If your boots obtain scratches these can be treated with conditioner and polish for leather.
In the case of suede clean using a pencil eraser and buff lightly with a toothbrush.
I hope this has been helpful and I will leave you with one final top tip, never leave your boots in the sun or near a heater to dry and this can over dry and cause small cracks, weakening the leather.