Five Tips for Boots (aka “Hacks”)–Part 3 Maintaining Shine

Continuing my series about tips for boots after a busy weekend, when I pulled on a pair of my favorite motorcycle boots — Chippewa Firefighters — yesterday as I prepared to go for a ride with some buddies, I reminded myself about the easy trick on how to keep these boots ultra-shiny and good-looking.

So if you are a guy like me who likes good-looking boots but really hates spending time shining them…

…here is the easiest way to maintain a shiny appearance of your boots — taught to me by motorcycle cops.

Some boots are made to shine and be kept shiny — Chippewa Firefighters, “High-Shine” engineers, Chippewa “Trooper Boots,” and All American Patrol Boots are some examples. Even some Motorcycle Patrol Boots with synthetic boot shafts (e.g., “stock Dehners”) can be quickly shined w/o laborious wax polishing treatment.

How do I maintain the shine on these boots — especially if I don’t have much time (or like to spend time) shining them?

Chip Firefighters, Chip Hi-Shines, Chippewa Trooper Boots, and All American Patrol Boots are among the boots in a class that have a thin plastic top coat applied during manufacture that covers the leather on the boot foot and shaft. The plastic top coat is not to be confused with “patent leather” which is made from a different process.

Rather, this top coat is durable and flexible enough such that it does not crack when natural creases are made in the boots during break-in and service. It is this top coat that makes the boots look so shiny.

To maintain the shine of boots with that plastic top coat, you need to remember that you are treating the coating, not the leather under it. Applying wax polish to these boots does not actually adhere to the leather. It forms a waxy layer on the plastic top coat that comes off with buffing with a brush or towel.

Cops who wear these boots have told me that the best way to care for the boots and to maintain a shine on them is to use household furniture polish, like Pledge. After a day’s wear, they spray the boots lightly with the spray furniture polish, and use a lintless cloth to buff the boot surfaces. This removes the day’s grime and returns the boots to their original luster. That’s what I do, too.

Once in a while, when the boots have been exposed to road spray — or worse, winter road salts — I will use a damp cloth first to remove the grime, then apply a very light, thin coating of paste wax. Again, this wax does not adhere to the leather. It forms a thin film which produces a shine when buffed with a good brush. The wax also fills in small surface cracks as well as light abrasion that may be caused by damage from pebbles, cinders, and road salts.

I only apply this thin wax polish about 3 – 4 times a year, and only when the boots have been crudded up with grime. Otherwise, applying wax polish more frequently only causes a wax build-up which attracts more dirt and makes the boots look dull.

Furniture polish sprayed lightly will remove that wax build-up. Also, if you use wax, make sure to pay attention to places where it can gunk up, such as in the instep of bal-laced boots, along the sole of the boot where the foot is attached, or along the laces or buckle on the top of the shaft. You may need to use an old toothbrush to remove waxy build-up, mud, or dirt.

It doesn’t take much to keep these boots in good condition, and show a shine that demonstrates the wearer is proud of his boots and his appearance in them.

Life is short: wear your boots well … others notice well-shined boots.

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