Proper care is essential to help prolong the life of your footwear and ensure they keep looking after your feet for years to come. Read on to learn how to get the best out of your walking boots or shoes.
Cleaning your footwear
Clean all mud and dirt from boots and sole under running water. Use a brush if necessary but don’t scrub too hard to ensure you don’t damage the leather. Various footwear cleaners are available such as Grangers Footwear Cleaner. A dedicated footwear cleaner is recommended but it’s also possible to use a diluted cleaning solutions such as Nikwax Tech Wash. Ensure any solution used is properly rinsed off after cleaning.
Most waterproof footwear has a waterproof breathable membrane liner on the inside of the boot such as Gore-Tex. Think of the waterproof membrane as a very fine mesh with holes large enough to let steam escape allowing the foot to breathe, but too small to allow the water to come through from the outside. In order to maintain the performance of your footwear, it’s important to clean the inside of the boots periodically to prevent this ‘mesh’ becoming blocked up and reducing breathability.
Remove the insoles then use a dedicated footwear cleaner or a Gore-Tex safe cleaner such as Nikwax Tech Wash or Grangers Performance Wash. Fill the boot with your chosen cleaner diluted in warm water and slosh it around, getting your hand or soft brush inside to help clean the lining. Rinse thoroughly the allow to dry naturally.
Drying Your Footwear
Please please please don’t dry your footwear near a radiator or source of heat. Wet leather is very sensitive to heat and can become very brittle, hard and cracked. It’s a fast-track to permanently damaging your boots.
Allow to dry naturally out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat. It takes a bit longer to dry, especially if the boots are wet inside but is the best way to ensure the leather stays healthy.
If the inside of the boots are wet, try not to use newspapers to draw the water out as the dye can transfer into the lining. Instead use dry towels or even kitchen roll.
Proofing your footwear
The proofing method differs depending on the material of your footwear.
Proofing Smooth or Full Grain Leather Footwear
Leather needs regular ‘nutritional’ waxing. Meindl Sportwax or Grangers G-Wax is ideal. Apply when the footwear is dry using a clean lint free cloth. Remove or loosen the laces and don’t forget the tongue. It’s also a good idea to apply a little wax or Vaseline to any metal eyelets to help prevent corrosion.
Wax will change the appearance of the leather making it smoother and darker. This is perfectly normal.
Proofing Nubuck Leather Footwear
Nubuck leather is leather where the outside of the leather (smooth side) has been sanded or buffed off to give it a softer matt finish. Nubuck is very durable, but more susceptible to stains and marks than full grain leather.
In order to maintain the matt finish of the leather, spray's are normally recommended to treat and proof the leather. Meindl's Conditioner and Proofer spray or Grangers Footwear Repel Plus Spray. These sprays add an element of water repellancy to the leather but adds conditioning for leather, suede and nubuck.
These sprays can also be used on the fabric parts of footwear to help prevent the fabric from absorbing water.
It is recommended that proofing sprays are applied when the nubuck leather is slightly damp as the pores of the leather open up and are able to absorb the spray more effectively.
Wax such as Meindl Sportwax or Grangers G-Wax can also be used on nubuck leather for the best possible protection, but it will change the finish of the footwear.
Proofing Suede / Fabric Shoes and Boots
Suede and fabric footwear is normally treated in a similar way to nubuck leather. Meindl's Conditioner and Proofer spray or Grangers Footwear Repel Plus Spray is ideal. The solution will soak into the fabric and help prevent the fabric from absorbing water. When used on suede, the sprays will also condition and nourish the suede.
Waterproofing sprays suck as Meindl Wetproof can help increase the water repellancy of your footwear. The spray soaks into fabric or leather and helps keep water out. It won't make non-waterproof footwear waterproof, but it will help prevent the water from soaking in as quickly and enhance the life of your shoes.
This should be applied twice a year after cleaning and prior to waxing or conditioning. It is suitable for leather, suede and fabric footwear.
When used on leather, nubuck or suede, it should be used in combination with a suitable leather conditioner to ensure the leather remains nourished.