Look after your boots and they will look after you!
Always refer to the manufacturers boot cleaning guidelines and the cleaning product guidelines.
There are three elements to footwear maintenance:
1) Cleaning, 2) Drying 3) Retreating.
Cleaning your boots will keep them looking good but more importantly extend their life. It is particularly important if boots are exposed to peaty mud, farmyard muck or rock salt, which if ignored can degrade the uppers.
Wash the outside surface of the boots in cold/lukewarm water using a soft nylon bristle brush to remove dirt, paying attention to folds in the tongue and other nooks (washing-up brushes work well). On heavily soiled fabrics you can add a little mild soap (Nikwax Tech Wash is ideal) but avoid washing-up liquid as it may strip off any existing water-repellent finish.
When finished rinse carefully. Remove the footbeds and tip out any debris from inside the boots. If boots are leather lined, wipe out the inside with a damp cloth.
Less often/when necessary:
Wash the outside of the boot in the same way but remove the laces for a thorough job and wash them in a little soapy water.
Remove the footbeds and wash these in the same way (refer to instructions for custom footbeds/orthotics as these may not be washable).
Very occasionally with fabric lined boots and boots with waterproof breathable linings (Gore-Tex, Sympatex etc) the inside of the boot should be washed out with lukewarm water or a dilute solution of mild soap. This is not only good for hygiene, but will prolong the life of the lining by removing abrasive grit particles from the membrane’s surface.
On leather lined boots wipe out the inside with a damp cloth.
Only ever dry your boots at room temperature, not in front of a fire, on top of a radiator or in strong sunlight. Excessive heat may irreversibly damage your boots. To speed up the drying process increasing air movement may help.
If the inside is wet, drip dry upside-down. Once the worst of the moisture is out you can stuff with successive batches of dry newspaper or use a reusable drying kit such as the 'Dryzone Dampire'.
Before treating any footwear it is best to remove the laces so that you can reach all nooks, crannies and folds on the uppers. Once treated, always allow the proofing product to dry fully before you use the boots again.
On boots with waterproof breathable linings avoid old fashioned 'dubbins' as these can clog the lining and reduce breathability. Some waxes can also damage the glues on modern boots. (Outside only sells waxes which are safe on breathable linings and have been tested thoroughly by ourselves).
Smooth leather finishes:
Apply a thin coating of your chosen proofing wax ensuring all the leather is covered. Pay particular attention to the 'flex zone' at the forefoot, the folds of the tongue. Applying a coat of wax to metal eyelets will help to prevent corrosion. On leather lined boots apply a very sparing quantity of leather conditioner (or most common proofing waxes) to the lining inside.
Some products can be difficult to work with, a quick and effective way to apply hard waxes and creams is using a traditional shoe-shine brush (cheap and easy to find). Water based products can be applied to a damp or dry boot and some waxes can be applied to slightly damp surfaces, but avoid this if in doubt.
Nubuck, Suede and reversed leather finishes:
For best waterproof performance these can be treated in the same way as smooth leather surfaces, however hard waxes and creams will darken and smooth the appearance of the leather.
To maintain a matt finish a proofing spray designed specifically for suede finishes must be used, we recommend Grangers Footwear Waterproofer. Water based products such as Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof can be applied to damp or dry boots.
Fabric and fabric/leather combinations:
Use only spray applied proofing products specifically formulated for fabric/leather footwear such as Grangers Footwear Waterproofer aerosol and Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof.
No matter how well you look after your boots there will come a time when they need to be repaired. Most small jobs can be attempted at home, but more serious damage will require the services of a professional. Feet First come highly recommended, especially for resoling.
Scuffs on leather boots can be treated with a coloured shoe polish to restore the lost colour. Be sure to finish with a coat of proofing wax for maximum durability. Small sections of loose sole unit or rubber rand can be reattached with McNett Freesole footwear adhesive (use methylated spirit or similar to remove all traces of wax beforehand).
Images supplied by Mammut
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