Not all workboots are created equal. A great work-boot protects you from a multitude of dangerous variables found on site, but even the highest quality boots need regular care in order maintain what is arguably your most important tool.
Leather is affected by many things including exposure to the elements, dirt, chemicals temperature and of course, moisture and other liquids. Since the number one rule when buying workboots is to buy solid 7-7.5oz full grain leather boots, here we’re going to talk about what needs to be done to keep that leather in condition and in use...for a long time.
First and foremost, if possible, INVEST, in at least two pairs. This is a key step. It also may sound a little self-serving but 2 pairs (properly rotated and dried between use) will give you 2-4x the wear out both pairs. Work sites are notoriously tough environments but unless boots are allowed to dry between wearings, bacteria, fungus and moulds build-up and eventual start to rot them from inside out. The key is to let your boots properly dry between uses and the best way is to let them air dry naturally, preferably upside down on a rack. Using cedar shoe-trees or newspapers is also good to help absorb moisture and maintain shape. Rotating your boots, giving a full day between uses allows the boots to fully dry which in turn maintains the integrity and natural characteristics of the leather. Placing your boots by a heater or stove or in the sunlight to dry WILL cause damage such as cracking and will harden the leather making them uncomfortable and less durable.
Second, at the end of each day you wear your boots, wipe off with a damp rag and/or a good brush. Removing as much dust and debris as you can. Dirt and dust can suck the natural oils out of the leather and can contaminate the leather causing a variety of detrimental effects. Any chemicals attached to dust particles can weaken and effect the integrity of the leather, so a quick wipe down will surely get you more mileage out of your boots.
Next, wash all that caked on mud and gunk and snow off those soles. Again, such things as dirt, mud and snow are carriers for chemicals and elements that will eventually break down the sole. A good pair of workboots should be able to be re-soled, but to minimize the amount of times and cost associated of re-soling, wash those bottoms!Lastly, again like your very own skin, you need to moisturize. Using a great leather conditioner, like OK Oil, will go a very long way. Depending on the amount of stress you put your boots through, conditioning your boots every 2-4 weeks and showing the creases a little extra love should be good. This will seal in moisture and keep the leather flexible and comfortable all the while preventing the leather from cracking and drying out. A little bit goes a long way. It will melt in your hands and you can rub on a good amount. It is possible to over do the oil but not likely. Wipe any excess up with a clean cloth.