Walking boots are built to be sturdy, hard-wearing and long-lasting, even when worn in the most demanding of conditions. However, if you don’t care for your boots properly, they won’t perform at their best. A little care and attention will keep your trusted walking boots in top condition and ensure that they stand the test of time.
Leather walking boots especially require more care than fabric or synthetic ones. Hiking through difficult terrain, including rough ground, mud, dust and grass can cause the leather surface to wear away. Mud can also have the effect of sapping the moisture from the smooth supple leather, leaving your boots feeling and looking dry and tired. Thankfully, if you follow this simple guide on ‘how to clean leather walking boots’, they will be sure to retain their superior performance and smooth look for many years to come.
- Scrub Clean
After trekking through the great outdoors, your boots are likely to need a quick clean to wash off any stubborn mud or grit that has accumulated. First, remove the laces and insoles from your boots. Use warm water and a semi-stiff brush to gently scrub them. Avoid any harsh detergents that could ruin the leather.
If you use your boots on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to rinse out the inside of your boots and clean the insoles every couple of weeks. This can prevent the waterproof lining of your boots being worn away by dirt rubbing into it.
- Re-Proof them Regularly
While cleaning and properly drying your boots is usually sufficient to keep your boots in good working order, sometimes they require a little more TLC. A good sign that your boots need reproofing is when the leather uppers are not repelling water properly. If the drops of water are soaking in rather than running off your boots, it is a good idea to get some sort of proofer.
Use a proofer, such as Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof to treat your walking boots after every couple of wears in order to keep them performing their best. This will ensure that they can continue to protect your feet against the elements. Never attempt to reproof your boots without cleaning them properly first - this will just rub the dirt back into the leather and could make them even worse. Apply the reproofer liberally and work into all the welts and seams. Leave for approximately 2 minutes after application, then remove any surplus with a cloth and allow to dry naturally. Applying a leather cream conditioner is a natural way to condition, waterproof and add shine to your footwear.
- Avoid Softening Uppers
Care should be taken to avoid over-softening the leather uppers of your walking boots so that they don’t lose their shape. To ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure you do not soak your boots in warm water or use products intended to soften the leather.
- Absorb All Moisture
If you get caught in a shower or there is a lot of water on the ground, your boots could get very wet. Don’t panic! If this happens, stuff your boots with newspaper to help draw out the moisture. This will ensure that they maintain their shape and prevents odour.
- Dry Carefully
It is important to be patient when drying your leather walking boots. Never place them directly next to a heat source as this could cause their leather exterior to dry out and crack. This means no radiators, airing cupboards or hairdryers.
Instead, allow your boots to dry slowly and naturally in a warm room or outside if the sun is shining. Once your boots have fully dried, store them at room temperature.
- Check for Wear
Every now and then you should check your walking boots for any signs of wear and tear. For example, if you notice that you are losing grip, you may want to replace the soles. Or, if the uppers are damaged, this could compromise their waterproofing ability and it may simply be time to replace them with a new pair. We have a fantastic range of clothing and footwear care products available so that you can safely and efficiently clean and protect your outerwear.