Although outdoor footwear may not get quite so many outings through the winter, the wet muddy conditions can be especially harmful to your beloved boots and shoes. Mud, ingrained dirt and constant wetting and drying can lead to cracks and premature wear. To get the most out of your footwear it’s worth remembering that a little aftercare goes a long way.
Clean as soon as possible – Not only does wet mud remove more easily, but some soil types (like peat) are acidic and cause additional harm if not removed swiftly.
Top Tip – At the end of your walk find a puddle or stream and clean off as much mud as you can before heading home.
Clean inside and out – For a thorough clean remove and rinse insoles and laces. Next, rinse out grit and dirt from inside the footwear. If left these act like sandpaper wearing away the fabric and waterproof linings. With a brush and clean water remove mud and dirt from the outside of the boot. For areas of ingrained dirt or old reproofing residue use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel.
Never dry footwear with direct heat – Most outdoor footwear will have some natural fibre components (suede, nubuck or leather). Rapid drying causes shrinkage and cracking leading to reduced comfort and lifespan. Instead dry footwear slowly in a cool well ventilated place. Top Tip – Stuffing the toes with newspaper not only draws out moisture but also helps prevent shrinkage.
Leather Conditioner – Even with the greatest care, leather can shrink and become stiff. If this happens treat with Nikwax Conditioner for Leather to restore natural suppleness.
Top Tip – Leather conditioner is also useful to help break in new leather footwear.
In essence reproofing footwear is all about preventing the materials from becoming saturated. When saturated, materials are heavier, less breathable and take longer to dry out. As soon as footwear no longer repels or ‘beads-off’ water it’s probably time for a reproof. In terms of how to reproof this depends on the footwear’s construction.
Fabric & Leather – Most walking shoes and lightweight walking boots are made from entirely synthetic materials (fabric), or a combination of synthetic and natural material (fabric and leather). Due to the presence of synthetic materials the use of a specialist product like Nikwax Fabric & Leather is recommended.
Nubuck or Suede – These light cuts of leather have a slightly furry or napped finish. Although traditional wax based product can be used this will permanently change the appearance of the material. To retain the intended napped matte finished a product like Nikwax Nubuck & Suede is the one to go for.
Full Grain Leather – Finally we come to the more heavy duty and traditional looking walking boot. Made entirely from full grain leather (glossy in appearance when new) these are perhaps more in need of reproofing than most footwear. In addition to the reasons already discussed, reproofing full grain leather also helps maintain suppleness and provides the sole waterproofing if membrane linings (like Gore-Tex) are not fitted. For such products a wax based proofer like Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather is the best option.
Well that covers all the most common footwear maintenance issues. If you think we’ve missed anything, or you have any further questions please comment below.