Winter is the season for boot enthusiasts to break out their collections and really enjoy them.
It’s also the season of snow, slush, and salt covered surfaces – all of which can cause considerable damage to boots of all types. Learning to properly care for and maintain your boots will allow you to continue wearing and enjoying them for many winters to come.
Being aware of good products to use with your boots will increase your overall satisfaction and encourage you to better explore what winter has to offer – in your fantastic-looking, well maintained boots.
We’ve discussed the proper care of leather boots and suede boots before, but winter weather, combined with road and sidewalk conditions, provide different challenges for keeping boots in great condition. The smartest thing you can do is protect your boots from snow, slush, and salt damage is to prevent it from occurring by spray treating them with a stain and water repellent product made for leather or suede.
Amazon has a number of inexpensive but well rated products available including Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Protector, Ugg Australia Stain and Water Repellent, and Snow Proof Weatherproofing Leather Conditioner.
For people with larger boot collections who don’t relish spending all day breathing in chemicals, shoe repair establishments often offer this service to their customers as well.
All boots are at risk in winter — not just fashionable boots.
The oft-worn, warm and comfortable Ugg-style boots, because they have a suede exterior, are also vulnerable to the winter elements.
Oil, grease, dirt, salt, and water stains will ruin their appearance and dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for wearing them. But, just like any boot, Ugg boots can be cleaned and freshened up.
Grease and oil spots can be lifted by lightly applying white chalk or cornstarch and leaving it overnight to absorb. As with any stain, the sooner you address a grease spot, the better.
Just like with other suede boots, dirt stains can be lifted from Ugg boots with a brisk brushing with a suede brush or the light application of a pencil eraser. Brush the dirt off in one direction and then wet the isolated stain area with water. Do not soak. Use a suede stain cleaner or a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water, rubbing it on in a circular motion. Rinse, and then let them dry naturally away from heat.
Water stained Ugg boots require a good overall cleaning using the above steps but for the entire boot. Again, it’s best to use a product formulated for suede. While the boot is still damp, stuff it with newspaper or paper towel to support its shape and to dry it out faster. Do not put Ugg boots or any other leather or suede boot near a heat source to dry.
After the boot is fully dry, give it another good brushing and then spray it with a stain and water repellent. When it is dry again, give it one more thorough brushing in one direction, again, to bring out the nap of the suede.
To clean the wooly parts of an Ugg-style boot, turn the boot upside down and then brush the wool with a wide-toothed comb. Then sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into the boot, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, turn the boot upside down and shake it. This will help to remove any foot odor. Adding essential oils like lavender oil to the baking soda will make your Uggs smell even better.
Replacement insoles are available as well, if your original insoles get worn over time.
Better socks will change the way that you wear your boots
Maintaining the exterior appearance and overall condition of your boots is important, but so is having an enjoyable experience wearing them. Boots are, after all, designed to make winter more navigable, and to be worn. To increase your comfort while you are putting your boots through their paces, there are a number of products available, the first of which is a good pair of socks.
Many people don’t realize how much the right sock can insulate and protect your feet. They believe that a sock is a sock, but cotton socks are the worst kind of socks to wear if you want your feet to stay warm. Cotton is a poor insulator and holds moisture after it gets wet – which leads to blisters, cold exposure and potential frostbite.
To truly explore the outdoors for any length of time, you need a dedicated winter sock made of wool, IsoWool, shearling, fleece or other insulating synthetic material. These types of socks are thick and warm, they continue to insulate even when wet, and they dry themselves out with exposure to body heat.
Our top picks for best insulating sock?
Want to hike, ski, or mountaineer? SmartWool has a sock for keeping your feet warm and dry while you do it. Thorlo and Wigwam socks will also provide significant protection from the elements, depending on what you are looking for in a sock.
Keeping your feet toasty-warm in the bitterest cold
Toe warmers are another option for keeping both hands and feet warm in frigid conditions. Skiers, hikers, and people with outdoor jobs rely on them to keep their extremities warm and safe.
Toe warmers are a chemical warming agent and suitable for use over longer periods of time. They should not damage your more delicate boots, but do not wear them directly on your skin. Any footwarmer should be used in tandem with a good sock.
Finally, at the end of the day when you shed your boots, how should you store them to make sure you protect your boots, your closet, and your floor? Our best tip is to let them fully dry out either on a mat or in a container. Some people will line a bin with rocks, allowing any muddy water to drip down away from the boots. Obviously, they will dry faster if they aren’t sitting in a pool of water.
If your boots are excessively wet, do not forget to stuff them with newspapers while they dry to maintain their shape and absorb moisture – speeding the drying process. When your boots have nearly dried, either brush or wipe them off with a damp cloth to remove any last traces of dirt, and then hang them up in your closet on your Boot Butler.
There, they can await your next winter adventure together in a winter wonderland.