Work Boot Cleaning And Care Made Easy

by Kim Russell, Product Expeditor from Wolverine

The first step in ensuring that your work footwear will perform well over time is selecting a comfortable, quality product.  After purchase, preparing your boots before wearing them for the first time, and taking a few minutes each month to care for them, will extend the life and increase the performance and comfort of your work footwear.

Taking care of your standard leather footwear pays back in comfort and long life...

Different types of  leather footwear require different types of care. A simple four-step process will keep standard leather boots in excellent shape:

What about caring for nubuck, suede and "specialty" leather boots?

The process of cleaning nubuck (durable, suede-like leather) and real suede boots differs slightly from cleaning standard leather work footwear.

Note that a suede boot cannot be polished. Should a stain appear on a suede boot, use a solvent-based cleaner immediately  to remove it. Another option is to use a very fine grade of sandpaper on a stubborn stain by lightly rubbing in a circular motion.  Be very careful not to rub too hard!

Some footwear manufacturers have created premium materials that perform even better than your standard leathers or suede. Wolverine, a leading work boot manufacturer, offers many styles of waterproof work footwear, some of which are made with Wolverine “Performance Leather.” This leather is lightweight, flexible, breathable, scuff-resistant and repels water better than full-grain cowhide. You can take care of the performance leather the same way you do regular leather, but it will require much less maintenance.

If you are unsure of the type of leather your boots are made of, contact the manufacturer for any special treatment they may need to give you long-lasting performance.  After all, the best boots aren't cheap, so the longer they last, the better!

Love might be, but waterproofing is not forever...

Whether you work indoors or out, maintaining the waterproofing condition of your leather is critical for maximum comfort, performance and longevity.  From beeswax and mink oils to protective sprays, a variety of waterproofing agents exist in the marketplace. Beeswax and mink oil products provide the most protection against the elements, but can also alter the coloring of the shoe. You can use a protective spray to maintain the appearance of the boot and still protect against water.

Waterproofing your boots needs to become a regular habit. To test if boots are still repellent, spray them monthly with a bit of water. When the water no longer beads up, treat the boot again. To re-treat with beeswax products, strip the waterproof coat off once a year using leather soap and a slightly damp cloth. Then reapply a thick coat of wax, paying attention to the toes and heels. Allow the boot to sit overnight to let the beeswax to absorb into the leather and remove any excess wax with a cloth in the morning.

Double-protect your boots inside and out!

Many boots in today's market feature water-repellent leather but because the boots are merely treated with a water-resistant coating, it is a temporary solution.  Periodically waterproofing the leather of your boots, even if they have been pre-treated, is still an important step to improving the longevity of your footwear. Some boots also feature waterproof liners made of materials like GORE-TEX™. Waterproof liners protect the foot from moisture and help keep the boot ventilated; however, it does not stop the leather from becoming waterlogged in soggy conditions. The combination of treated leather and waterproof liners will doubly ensure footwear that stands up to the elements. For extra protection you can spray inside the boot. Remove the insole and spray it with a waterproofing spray and allow it to dry thoroughly before putting it back in the boot. Spray on and around the lace area and allow to dry before wearing in wet conditions.

Boot Care While You Sleep!

Storing your work boots properly at the end of the workday can benefit them in a number of ways. Placing boots on a cedar shoetree enhances the comfort, appearance and overall condition of your boots. Cedar's unique wicking action absorbs moisture, acid and salt, smoothes out linings and insoles, and maintains the shape of boots. Another recommendation if you own several pairs of boots is to rotate wearing them daily, allowing each pair to dry thoroughly.

The purchase of a good pair of work boots is an investment worth protecting.  By following these simple steps your boots can provide years of value, safety and comfort.

For product information or to check out Wolverine's complete line of footwear and apparel please visit