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How to Waterproof, Maintain, and Care for Your Boots

Muddy Boots

If you have recently purchased a good pair of work boots, tactical boots, or military boots, then the chances are that you want to learn everything you can about caring for them.

If you properly waterproof, clean and maintain your boots, they can keep your your feet safe and comfortable for a long time.  Here, you will learn a few maintenance tips, designed to help you get the most life out of your boots.

Waterproof Your Boots

If your new boots are not already waterproof, there are many products available online to help with waterproofing, but you should use a thick leather conditioner instead of something that is thin and watery.  This creates a barrier from water, preventing things like mold and rot.

To waterproof:

  • Simply slather on the conditioner on the leather parts and give it a little time to sit.
  • Then, use a heat gun or hair dryer to “activate” the product.
  • As the conditioner warms, it soaks down into the leather.
  • Use a towel or rag to remove the excess conditioner and buff clean.

Here is a popular video about waterproofing that covers a few different options and shows the hair dryer technique:

It sounds crazy but the toilet wax waterproofing technique is considered a great way to waterproof boots!

Truthfully, you might be surprised at just how long your boots last once you condition the leather.

Popular boot waterproofing products

Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP Leather Conditioner Natural Oil Beeswax Formula (4oz)
Atsko Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing Leather Protector, 7 oz
Sof Sole Mink Oil for Conditioning and Waterproofing Leather, 3.5-Ounce
Huberd's Shoe Grease
Danco 40619 Toilet Bowl Wax Ring with Sleeve
Main Ingredient
Beeswax
Beeswax
Mink Oil
Pine tar and beeswax
Wax
Best For
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Leather protector
Waterproofing
Conditioning
Waterproofing
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Waterproofing
-
Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP Leather Conditioner Natural Oil Beeswax Formula (4oz)
Main Ingredient
Beeswax
Best For
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Atsko Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing Leather Protector, 7 oz
Main Ingredient
Beeswax
Best For
Leather protector
Waterproofing
-
Sof Sole Mink Oil for Conditioning and Waterproofing Leather, 3.5-Ounce
Main Ingredient
Mink Oil
Best For
Conditioning
Waterproofing
Huberd's Shoe Grease
Main Ingredient
Pine tar and beeswax
Best For
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Danco 40619 Toilet Bowl Wax Ring with Sleeve
Main Ingredient
Wax
Best For
Waterproofing

Cleaning your Boots

Waterproof boots are important in many situations, but you can do other things that will extend the life of your work boots. One of these is as simple as cleaning them every single day after you take them off. Here are the tips and tricks to help you do just that:

  • Allow mud to dry before attempting to remove it. This way, you can simply knock off much of the caked-on mud rather than grinding it into the leather.
  • Brush dust and dirt off of your boots with a soft brush such as a real horsehair brush.
  • Apply boot polish to leather areas when needed.
  • Brush the polished areas with the horsehair brush.

Tan suede boots, such as military desert boots, are a bit more difficult to clean. Because suede is soft, you will need different techniques.

  • Brush the boots with a stiff brush using moderate pressure. This removes excess dirt and debris.
  • Then, run lukewarm water over them – but do not soak them completely.
  • Use a mild soap, lather up the fingers of one hand, and use that hand to gently massage out any further dirt in the suede.
  • Rinse again and air dry.

Popular boot cleaning products

TAKAVU 6.7" Horsehair Shoe Shine Brush - 100% Soft Genuine Horse Hair Bristles - Unique Concave Design Wood Handle - Comfortable Grip, Anti Slip - for Boots, Shoes & Other Leather Care (#1)
Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner
Huberd's Boot & Saddle Soap
Leather Cleaner by Leather Honey: The Best Leather Cleaner for Vinyl and Leather Apparel, Furniture, Auto Interior, Shoes and Accessories. Concentrated Formula Makes 32 Ounces When Diluted!
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner Lint-Free Application Cloth: Microfiber Cloth for Use Leather Conditioner and Leather Cleaner, The Best Leather Care Products Since 1968
Best For
Gentle leather cleaning
Deep cleaning suede
Cleans leather and vinyl
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Gentle cleaning and polishing
-
TAKAVU 6.7" Horsehair Shoe Shine Brush - 100% Soft Genuine Horse Hair Bristles - Unique Concave Design Wood Handle - Comfortable Grip, Anti Slip - for Boots, Shoes & Other Leather Care (#1)
Best For
Gentle leather cleaning
Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner
Best For
Deep cleaning suede
Huberd's Boot & Saddle Soap
Best For
Cleans leather and vinyl
-
Leather Cleaner by Leather Honey: The Best Leather Cleaner for Vinyl and Leather Apparel, Furniture, Auto Interior, Shoes and Accessories. Concentrated Formula Makes 32 Ounces When Diluted!
Best For
Leather preservative
Waterproofing
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner Lint-Free Application Cloth: Microfiber Cloth for Use Leather Conditioner and Leather Cleaner, The Best Leather Care Products Since 1968
Best For
Gentle cleaning and polishing

Disinfect and Protect Boots Against Odors

If you are concerned about foot odor, you have options.

  • You can shoot some Lysol disinfectant spray into your boot at the end of the day and this will kill odor-causing bacteria.
  • You might also choose to sprinkle in some foot powder before you put on your boots since it will help keep your feet dry, no matter how hot and sticky the conditions that day.
  • Finally, if your feet sweat a lot, make sure that you invest in high quality, moisture-wicking socks. These will go a long way to keeping the insides of your boots dry and help them last longer.
  • Check out our post about preventing sweaty feet

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