Soon the rain, snow, and slush of winter will start coating outdoor construction work sites. You need to make sure your old work boots are still waterproof before the winter season sets in if you want to keep your feet dry and warm during the workday. If you have never cleaned and waterproofed your boots before, here is how to treat your old leather work boots so they will keep your feet dry and warm on wet and cold winter days.
You need to make sure the boots are clean before you apply any waterproofing agents. Knock all the dry dirt off the boots by taking them outside in the yard and banging them together. Next, take a stiff-bristled toothbrush or cleaning brush (do not use a brush with metal teeth as these will scratch and tear the leather) to scrub away the dry dirt clinging to the seams along the bottom of the boot.
You also want to remove any grease and oil on the boots. Mix a solution of warm water and a gentle degreaser in a bowl or pail. Wet the boot down with water. Take a soft-bristled brush and dip it into the cleaning solution. Apply the solution to the leather until it lathers up and then scrub the leather with the soft-bristled brush. Rinse the boot after scrubbing. If you still see grease and oil on the boots, repeat the cleaning process again.
Apply Leather Conditioner
The cleaning, as well as normal wear and tear, can dry out the leather on the boots. You should apply leather conditioner with a rag to the boots to keep them from drying out and cracking. Allow the leather conditioner to sink in before applying the waterproofing agent. You should look for leather conditioners that contain lanolin, neatsfoot oil, or mink oil to keep the boots in good shape.
Apply Waterproofing Agent
Make sure the boots are wet when you apply the waterproofing agent to the leather. The wetness helps the waterproofing agent soak deeper into the leather which helps the waterproofing agent provide a better barrier between your feet and outside moisture.
You need to use a water-based waterproofing agent for the best protection (oil-based agents are typically reserved for high-end boots you'll never wear at a construction site).
Rub the waterproofing agent into the leather on the boot with a rag, and let sit for a few minutes until the agent is absorbed into the leather (follow manufacturer's directions for the waterproofing product you are using). Wipe off the excess waterproofing agent with a rag. Repeat the waterproofing process at least a few times to get the best coverage for your boots.
Let the boots dry before wearing them outside.