I admit it — I am a typical guy when it comes to things like caring for boots. I don’t want to take time to strip wax, condition the leather, and build a mirror shine finish on my leather boots. Well, I have a few exceptions, but the general rule is: pull ’em on or lace ’em up, mount the saddle of my Harley, and be off.
Who wants to waste time shining boots? Conditioning leather? I have more important things to do than sit around fiddling with boot care products.
Yep, I’m a typical guy when it comes to this stuff. Many motorcops I know feel the same way.
So what does THIS Bootman do when confronted with questions via email asking, “since you have so many boots, you must care for them. What do you recommend?”
First and foremost, I incorporate boot care into my daily routine, and I make it easy. Most of the time, my boots haven’t been anywhere but on my feet as I go about my daily routine. But if I happened to be on a worksite where, say, I have been remodeling a house, or have ventured into the forest behind my house or elsewhere, before I go into my house, I take a quick look at the bottom of my boots.
If there is caked mud on the heels or in the lugs of lug-soled boots, I walk to my back yard, pick up the garden hose, make sure the nozzle is set to “jet stream” and hose down my boots, removing all of the mud from between the lugs and the sides of the heels and soles. Then I remove the boots and lay them sideways on the deck or patio, but out of the sun. I let them air dry.
The boots I wear in those conditions are never shined. A guy doesn’t shine loggers or Timberland or other work boots. Shining work boots is sacrilege! They’re made to have a well-worn appearance. Note, though, I do not let my boots get soaking wet. That can ruin the leather. But most work boots are waterproof or at least water-resistant, so hosing off the soles won’t hurt ’em.
Now for my every-day cowboy and motorcycle boots, my boot care routine is simple. I keep a bottle (or two or three) of Lexol leather wipes in places where I remove my boots — either in my bedroom or in my basement boot closet. After I pull off the boots, I wipe the boots down with a leather wipe to remove surface grime. It is amazing how much gunk gets on boots simply by wearing them!
Then I put the boots in a well-ventilated place but out of direct sunlight and away from blowing air (such from a heat vent) and let them air out. Note: I do not put them away, especially in a dark, unventilated closet, until the next day at the earliest. They really do need to air out so absorbed sweat can evaporate and the interior can dry naturally. Even if you do not think the insides of your boots are sweaty, trust me — they are. It is a natural process for feet to release a LOT of moisture throughout the day.
And that’s it. Simple. Easy. No fuss, no muss, no wax, no bottles of liquid cleaners or other boot care products.
As I said, there are a few exceptions to my general rule of “no fuss no muss.” I like my motorcycle police patrol boots to have a good appearance, and also any boots that have a thin plastic topcoat like my favorite Chippewa Firefighter boots or Chippewa “hi-shine” engineer boots.
For those boots, besides wiping them down after I take them off, I use a very little bit of a spray of good quality furniture polish on the boots and wipe it off with a lintless cloth. This technique of using furniture polish was explained to me by several cops and affirmed by Ron Belanger of Big Black Boots. It works because the shafts of stock Dehner boots are synthetic, so that product doesn’t shine with wax. Also, the whole boot for shiny Chippewa or All American Patrol Boots have a thin plastic top coat that also doesn’t respond to traditional wax polish, so a quick wipe with furniture polish usually will restore the shine of the factory finish.
My Dehner Boots have a leather vamp (foot), so I occasionally apply wax polish following Bootdog’s directions. Of all the boot-shine directions out there, these appear to be the easiest and most productive, and take the least time.
What about exotic skin boots? Besides the daily wipe-down, I do occasionally use Bick 4, an exotic skin conditioner. I never ever use wax polish on exotic skins.
More information about BHD’s Guide to Boot Care is on my blog, here.
And if you’re really anal about a good shine on boots, a buddy sent me a link from “the shoe snob.” His self-applied title says it all. My friend and I both found these “shoe-shine” directions to be quite “over-the-top,” especially because they were about dorky dress shoes. But if you really really must know complete directions for a high-finish shine for your boots, this information may be helpful to you. Not really for most regular guy-guys who just want to pull on boots and go.
Life is short: care for your boots a couple minutes every day and be done with it. (And wear boots; ditch the shoes!)