During the shooting season your leather shooting boots work very hard for you, so the way in which you clean, maintain and store them is vital to ensure longevity. It’s all about ensuring you get really good performance from your boots each and every season!
How do I clean and maintain my leather shooting boots?
Over the past year or so, your leather boots are likely to have taken a bit of a battering. They may have waded through mud, snow, ice or even shallow rivers and may have been subjected to scrapes and scratches from brambles, heathers or twigs. It could be the case then, that the leather will be distressed, worn, or dry – or, even worse, may even be cracking!
To ensure your leather shooting boots perform to the same high standard as they always have done, a little bit of care and attention is needed in much the same way you would care for your shotgun!
Many leather boots on the market today will have a waterproof and breathable membrane to ensure your feet stay dry and warm for longer. To ensure this membrane continues to function, the outer layer (i.e. leather) needs to be maintained.
Grisport boots, for example, are made from top quality, soft, durable Italian leather and in order that they will continue to perform well, the leather needs ‘feeding’ to ensure it remains both ‘elastic’ and supple. It’s also very important to check for wear and tear of your boots, especially at the sole unit area.
Ask yourself whether your boot’s sole unit has worn down so much that you may lose grip next time you are out in the field? Or perhaps you may notice a split on the sole. If this is the case, you may need to consider investing in a new pair of boots ready for next season and this, at least, gives you time to find the perfect new pair of leather shooting boots!
Below are some tools you may need for regular maintenance of your boots, along with the steps to follow to ensure you get the best from your leather boots at all times:
The tools for the job:
- 1 x Hard Boot Brush
- 1 x Soft Boot Brush
- Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel
- Waterproofing Wax for Leather
- An old Toothbrush
Remove the insoles to ensure you get an all over, thorough clean. Some manufacturers’ insoles are machine washable. (Please check with your manufacturer or from where you bought your boots from).
You may find that your insoles are heavily worn, mis-shaped and even a little bit stinky! Well, now is the time to buy new insoles and throw out the old ones!
Remove the laces when carrying out a thorough clean, so that you can reach between the creases of the bellowed tongue.
Leave the laces somwhere warm to dry out fully, as they may rot, over time, if they stay wet for too long. If you find that the laces are a bit frayed, you may want to consider replacing them.
Over newspaper (or go outside so as not to make too much mess), use the soft boot brush to carefully remove any loose dirt. You may find warm water will help to loosen up the dirt which has accumulated in the creases. Never use detergent as this may damage the leather.
Then, using the hard boot brush, remove large clumps of mud from within the tread and you can also use an old toothbrush to clean between the bellows tongue, before allowing the boots to dry off.
For a thorough clean and for best results, use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. Shake the container to ‘wake up’ the liquid and apply generously over the boots, including between the creases on the tongue. Then rinse off with warm water.
This footwear cleaning gel will revitalise the waterproof qualities of the leather and enhance the breathability of the boots.
Allow the boots to dry off naturally. (i.e. do not dry the boots near a radiator or a fire, as the leather will dry out too quickly and may crack). By allowing the leather to dry off naturally, the natural capabilities of the leather will be retained and enhanced.
Once the shooting boots have dried thoroughly it is necessary to apply a wax to help improve the waterproofness and breathability of the boots. Nikwax Waterproof Wax for Leather (this formula can also be applied to wet boot if necessary) is a water based solution that will ‘feed’ the leather and create a protective coating to improve the performance of the boots. Any water or chemicals will ‘bead up’ and simply roll off the boot.
Image above: Boots not treated
Image above: Boots treated with Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather
By adding a waterproofing treatment to the leather, it revitalises the capabilities of your boots and offers great protection. Simply use the sponge located on the tube and rub the wax into every crease. As this product contains no harmful solvents or fluorocarbons, it is perfectly safe to use your hands to rub the wax into every part of the boot. Pay particular attention to the areas around the lace hooks and on the bellowed tongue.
(Please remember to store your boots in a dry and cool location)
Your leather shooting boots are now ready for another action packed season!