How to protect snow boots
Winter boots go through a lot––they are subjected to rain, snow, mud, dirty snow, salt, and a range of other street dirt and chemicals. By winter's end, poorly cared for boots will repay your neglect by falling apart or simply looking shabby. Here is a way to keep them in better shape throughout winter so that with any luck, they'll see you through a few winters yet.
1. Protect your new boots. Always spray new boots with a waterproofing product that increases their water resistance even before you start to wear them. (The manufacturer will often recommend a product.) Keep using this product regularly to enhance the original protective qualities. Boots that do not have this protective layer added will not last as long.
Some wearers recommend using saddle soap to maintain leather boots long term. Saddle soap contains protective, waterproofing and softening agents, namely lanolin, neatsfoot oil and glycerol. To use, wipe the boot over with a damp cloth. Then create a lather with the saddle soap and water using the cleaning cloth. Apply the lather to the boot, allow for slight drying, then wipe off any remaining lather. Be aware that it can darken some leather, so test spot first.
2. Clean salt stains immediately. If you live where it snows and where salt is used on the streets to keep them clear of snow, your boots are going to pick up the salt. Salt stains mar the look of boots and weaken the fabric. If there are metallic parts to your snow boots, these will begin to rust if the salt is not removed. For the best results, always clean off any salt stain as soon as you spot it. Use the cleaning agent recommended by your boots' manufacturer (desalting agent), or see the suggestions below.
Still wet salt lines can be quickly fixed by wiping over the leather boot with a damp, warm cloth. Leave to dry in the mudroom (not near a heater). To retain the shape of the boot if it's not able to do so on its own, stuff with newspaper or other scrap paper.
For suede boots, clean marks off with an eraser or sand gently with an emery board. To restore flattened nap, use a clean toothbrush or towel to brush it up or steam gently over the spout of a just boiled kettle.
3. Keep the boots polished and clean. If your boots are leather, keep them well polished. All types of boots should be kept clean. A regular wipe-down with warm water for many synthetic boots will help remove dirt and other encrusted elements.
Oil stains can be removed from suede boots by rubbing as soon as possible with either cornmeal or talcum powder. Gently brush off with a towel after leaving for a few hours to soak up the grime.
Boot liners that can be removed should be washed separately by hand or in the washing machine (see manufacturer's instructions). Make sure they're completely dry before re-inserting into the boots.
4. Store winter boots clean and dry. At winter's end, never store boots without cleaning them first and ensuring that they are completely dry. Otherwise, you risk finding moldy, cracked and possibly ruined boots next winter. Stains left too long may set permanently and weaken the boot. And mold that grows on one boot can cross-contaminate other shoes, boots and items of clothing stored in the same vicinity.
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