Finally find that perfect pair of leather boots, only to stomp them into the ground? No way. Thankfully, our shoe design team has some super-simple tips (using things you probably already have) that will keep your boots in great shape this winter, whether that means a slushy 6° or a breezy 60°.
Tip 1: Let them air out completely after wearing.
The minute you take your boots off, leave them out in a warm spot, undoing any zippers or buttons. This will help prevent odors and moisture from getting trapped inside. No leaving them next to radiators, though—cautionary tales have been written about cracked, brittle leather.
Tip 2: Stuff clean balled-up socks into the toes on their days off.
It’ll preserve the shape of the boots and absorb any leftover sweat. In a pinch, you can crumple up a few pages of the morning paper (a great trick if you’re traveling). For taller boots, invest in a boot shaper to keep the calf area from flopping over and creasing.
Tip 3: Give them a weekly brushing.
Dirt, salt and buildup can cause stains and cracks, compromising the patina that well-loved leather develops. Wipe them off weekly with a stiff-bristled brush—a toothbrush will do, just don’t store it in the bathroom cabinet (you can imagine that unfortunate mix-up…). Use even downward strokes in one direction, from the opening to the toe.
Tip 4: Deal with accidents ASAP.
Whether it’s a total fluke—salsa spill, red wine—or Mother Nature doing her thing, you can mitigate any immediate damage with a clean, dry washcloth. Blot away wetness or gently slough off puddle debris.
Tip 5: Find a trusted shoe professional—especially if you live in a chilly, wet climate.
Even the best-made soles take a beating in winter, and wetness can seep into the actual footbed. For an extra layer of protection, take them to the cobbler—think of it as a repair garage for your boots—to get a tune-up and maybe even a rubber sole. That way you can make sure there’s no rain, so to speak, on your parade.
Photography by Jennifer Trahan