Did you just buy a new pair a boots and want to give them the “white glove” treatment? Or let me guess, you are trying to make up for months of savagely neglecting your existing work boots? Either way, I have some bad-ass advice to show you how to take care of leather boots.
Depending on what class you fall into, you will need to follow different steps. Meaning, if you are a “neglector” and need to give your existing boots some TLC, you will need to clean the them first. And for that, I’d first refer you on over to my “How To Clean Work Boots” article. But once you’re done there, come back and join us for round two, showing you how to care for leather boots. Ultimately, there are 3 steps to caring for your leather work boots.
But before we jump in, let’s talk about why you should give your boots more than just stank feet and a dark spot in the corner.
Why You MUST Care For Leather Boots: Hold The Excuses
Do you get routine oil changes?
Do you wipe down your faucets?
Do you brush your teeth?
The list goes on…While I’m hoping you do all of these things, I’m not going to sit here and give you advice on why you should. It’s intuitive. OK, maybe I will…
If you don’t get routine oil changes, your car is destined for a breakdown.
If you don’t wipe down your faucets, the finish is bound to pit and peel.
If you don’t brush your teeth, well, you won’t have any.
So, the same goes when we are talking about caring for your work boots. If you are going to spend the money on the best work boots, at least dedicate a little time caring for them. Because if you don’t, you will find that they won’t last too long.
The standard side effects of not caring for leather boots are:
Leather drying out
Sole separating from boot
Getting your feet soaked (leading to poor foot health)
Looking like a bum (definitely don’t want to fall into this category)
OK. You get it now. Let’s talk about what you can do to prevent these outcomes.
How To Condition Leather Boots: With Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
Many people make the mistake of waiting to condition their leather boots. Although it is important to condition used work boots, it is just as important to condition them brand new, right out of the box, especially since boots usually aren’t conditioned by the manufacturer.
While there are many ways to condition leather boots using different oils, I’m not going to waste your time exploring on this one. There is a leather conditioner out there that will not only protect/restore your boots, but will do it so well that you won’t have to keep lathering them up every month. I mean, this stuff is the bomb! It not only conditions the leather, but it provides water resistance and can help to break in the boot. It’s the trifecta. A hat trick in the world of leather conditioners.
What am I talking about? Leather Honey Leather Conditioner.. While I have provided a plethora of different at home ways to clean your work boots, there really is only one way to properly condition them. And that’s because it takes a whole lot more than your typical around the house product to penetrate leather. And Leather Honey does it better than any brand.
The thing is, leather is just like our skin. It needs natural oils to stay healthy and strong. However, leather is no longer attached to its rightful owner that was providing its nutrients. So, we need to step up and provide for it. And Leather Honey makes it easy for us. That’s because it does something that most leather conditioners can’t – IT PENETRATES DEEP INTO THE LEATHER. The thing with leather is that you can’t just count on a superficial coating to do the trick. You know, if you get your standard leather conditioner it might make your leather look rejuvenated, but in reality that is just on the surface. So you not only lose the natural water resistance that conditioner can provide, but you end up having to recondition the leather multiple times per month.
On the other hand, Leather Honey’s all-natural formula penetrates deep into the leather restoring all of the leather. This means that you don’t have to repeat the process over and over again. The conditioner will hold up, and Leather Honey claims that with the proper application, you can go over 6 months without applying another layer. Now before we get into how to use Leather Honey, let’s just recap what it can do that other conditioners can’t:
- Penetrates deep into the leather to provide the longest lasting protection
- Protects new leather
- Conditions used leather
- Provides natural water repelling properties
- Can be used on all leathers, including Nubuck (CANNOT BE USED ON SUEDE)
- Made in the USA
- Unlimited 100% satisfaction LIFETIME guarantee! If you’re not satisfied, return the product AT ANY TIME for a full refund
For those of you concerned about the use of this product on Nubuck, I pulled a FAQ from their official site. According to Leather Honey’s FAQ,
“Can I use Leather Honey products on Natuzzi, Aniline, or Nubuck leathers?
Yes! Leather Honey works well on all types of leather, with the exception of suede. If you’d like to hear directly from our customers, please go to testimonials related to using Leather Honey on Natuzzi, Aniline, and Nubuck leathers. Please remember that we always suggest doing a spot test in a hidden area before applying Leather Honey to the entire item.”
So there you have it, the ultimate leather conditioner.
How To Use Leather Honey: The Right Way
Before using any leather conditioner, including Leather Honey, always spot test it first. Of course, leather conditioner can and will darken the leather of the boot but it is usually only temporary. So start with a small application in a discreet area, such as the tongue or heel.
- Remove the laces
- Clean boots thoroughly with Saddle Soap, and let fully dry ***Conditioner works best when the boots are dry and can fully absorb the oils
- Pour a bit of Leather Honey on a lint free cloth
- Apply the Leather Honey onto the boot in a consistent back and forth motion, covering the entire boot
- Let the boot sit for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight
- Once absorbed, wipe away any excess Leather Honey from the boot
Here’s the thing, I can tend to be a procrastinator when it comes to these types of “chores.” So, one of the reasons that I love this product is because if you do it infrequently, but you do it like a BOSS, it can hold up for a long time. Typically, I’ll start to notice the leather start to dry out or fade, and that’s when it dawns on me to break out the conditioner. When I finally man up and get it going, I’ll repeat this process above 2-3 times.
The only way to know how many applications you need, is to apply the Leather Honey, let it set and see if it fully absorbs. If it does fully absorb without leaving any excess, you can bet that your boots need another application. You can’t hurt the leather by repeating the process. The worst thing that can happen is you use too much and it leaves a thick layer on top of the leather, which you will just have to wipe away. But, if you can give your boot 2-3 applications you can bet your ass that your boots will stay conditioned for 6 months plus.
Not only does Leather Honey penetrate deep into the leather, but its thick consistency naturally fills the pores of the leather, creating natural water resistance. However, if you want to go above and beyond the call of waterproofing, there are some great options, especially for those of you working in wet conditions.
How To Waterproof Leather Boots: With Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather
While there are a bunch of different products out there, I like to pair up Leather Honey with a wax paste. And my go-to, for quite a few reasons, is Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather. The primary reason for using Nikwax, is that it is a great compliment to Leather Honey, since it does not soften leather like Leather Honey can. It simply coats the surface of the leather. So, let me point out the key features of Nikwax’s product.
- Minimizes water absorption
- Works right away
- Does not soften leather
- Can be applied to wet surfaces
- Won’t impact breathability
- 100% Water based and Biodegradable. Contains NO fluorocarbons/ Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
And just how should you use it?
5 Simple Steps
- Clean your boots with Saddle Soap (There is no need to wait for your boots to dry)
- Shake the bottle
- Squeeze some onto your boot
- Rub the wax into your boots with the built in applicator or your fingers
- After applying, wipe away any excess with a damp cloth
However, if you have Nubuck or Suede leather, you may want to try a different waterproofing option.
How To Waterproof Leather Boots: With Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Proof Spray-on
For those of you with Nubuck or Suede leather, you might want to use a spray designed for this material. Especially since the wax can flatten out the knap of these types of leather.
Again, I am a fan of Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Proof Spray-on And that is of course because it provides the same qualities of the wax, but it is exclusively designed for Nubuck and Suede to maintain the texture of the leather. Oh yea, this spray does not contain any aerosol propellants either so you won’t get light headed while doing this. However, you will have to let this product sit and fully dry before use.
To apply, just:
- Brush any dirt off of your boots using a nylon brush
- Shake the bottle thoroughly
- Spray the boots
- Let it sit for 2 minutes
- Wipe away excess with a dry cloth
- Let it sit for a couple of hours to fully dry
Well, I hope I made it easy on you. You should now have a pretty clear understanding how to care for leather boots. The thing is, when it comes to protecting the leather long term, you just can’t make sacrifices. So sticking with these highly reputable products that are proven to work will go a long way. These products just so happen to be the ones that I use and am comfortable recommending. So as always, if you have any feedback on these products, or have your own go-to products, tell me about it in the comments section.
Boots Over Suits, Over and Out.