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Eastland Shoe has been handcrafting leather boots and shoes for men and women in Maine since 1955 –so they know a thing or to about keeping their footwear in ship shape. Here are their tips on protecting your favorite pair.
Although it is not recommended to wear leather soled shoes in inclement weather, if you do, the most effective way to keep water out is to have a cobbler install sole guards—thin pieces of rubber that affix to the sole of the shoe. If your shoes do have leather soles, choose oiled or double-leather soles to resist seepage.
Remove mud and dirt with a gentle cleaner or dab with a damp cloth so that the marks disappear; then dab with equal parts water and white vinegar. Next, try a surface treatment to keep water and dirt from damaging the leather, such as a silicone spray or water-repelling cream.
Silicone sprays form a protective layer, are quick, and won’t alter coloration. But sprays require frequent applications and can ultimately crack the leather by not allowing it to breathe. On light-colored leather, use Meltonian Water & Stain Protector or Kiwi Protect-All; these won’t change the leather’s hue.
Applying a water-repelling cream several times a season provides extra protection with minimal discoloration. Most contain natural oils, beeswax, and/or silicone (which, when applied in this manner, better allows a shoe to breathe).
One of the most effective waterproofing methods, but most labor-intensive, is to weather proof with Beeswax (you’ll need a hairdryer for proper application) which will also darken leather.
And If Your Favorite Boots Are Suede
For suede, stick with sprays; full-grain, calfskin, and exotic leathers (any leather you don’t want darkened) require a light cream; smooth-leather chukkas, boots, and shoes do well with a beeswax finish; and for heavier-duty workboots, choose mink oil or a heavily oiled cream.
Keep Them Dry
Fill footwear with wooden shoe trees – cedar wood helps to absorb moisture and control odor. Don’t place them near heat, which can ruin leather by making it crack.
Above: Eastland’s Berwick Shearling-Lined Ankle Boot