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How To Care For Your Waterproof Boots

Saturated leather draws heat away from the foot, making you susceptible to chilling and frostbite. Worse, it renders the boot non-breathable. You must treat your boots, even those that are factory waterproofed, periodically to maintain the water repellency. Below are some tips to maximize the performance of your waterproofing treatment.

Preparation

  • Smooth, full-grain leather boots are often sold with an application of glycerin or canuba wax to keep the boots looking new through shipping and selling.
  • Wash this coating off with soap and water before applying any waterproofing wax, water-soluble or not.

Cleaning

  • Leather needs to be kept clean inside and out for a long life span.
  • Although a simple washing with ordinary soap and water will suffice, a number of manufactures offer care kits complete with soap, soft scrub brushes and conditioner.
  • Be sure to rinse whatever soaps you use out of the leather thoroughly, as detergents are hydrophilic.

Natural Drying

  • Never use heat to dry a boot; it will damage and "cook" the leather.
  • To properly dry boots, remove the footbed and laces, open fully, and allow to dry naturally at room temperature.

A Little Goes a Long Way

  • Too much of a good thing can make your boots droopy or tacky.
  • Properly applied, in thin layers, oils and waxes can and do work well.
  • Improperly applied, waxes gunk up the surface of the leather attracting dirt and grime, while oils soak into the leather leading to breakdown.

Appearance Changes

  • Most treatments will alter the color and/or look of the leather, usually by darkening.
  • However, in the case of nubuck, split grain, rough-out, or suede, waxes and oils will not only darken, but also smooth over the nap.

Waterproof / Breathable Linings

  • Many waterproof boots are sold with a Gore-Tex® or other waterproof-breathable membrane lining.
  • The Gore company recommends that you treat the leather to keep it water resistant, but make sure to use a product that also offers breathability.
  • Completely impermeable sealants and coatings cancel out the dry, breathability of these linings.
  • Oils, polish, silicone or other treatments should not harm the membrane if they comes in contact.

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