We subject our boots to a lot of wear and tear. Especially during the winter months when salt and moisture can wreak havoc on fabric and leather, shortening the life of your valued footwear. Properly storing your boots daily, as well as in the longer term between off-seasons when they are not in wear, is your best defense against premature aging. With a little preparation and these simple tips, you will be enjoying your boots for years to come.
Clean, Dry & Protected
Whether you’re kicking off your boots for the night or getting ready to put seasonal boots into longer term storage, the facts are the same: happy boots are clean and dry boots.
The first step is a visual check over. If you see any dirt or salt, wipe it off immediately using a dry or damp cloth.
After cleaning your boots — or if they’re wet from the rain and snow — give them some time to fully dry out. Always let your boots dry out at room temperature. Don’t use a space heater, hair dryer or other heat source, as direct heat will make leather brittle, can fade fabric, and can also damage adhesives.
Keep your boots protected with a conditioning treatment. There are many conditioning and waterproofing products on the market. Check you boot’s label and then consult the internet to make sure you are using the right product for the right boots. Depending on how much wear and tear your boots get, you can condition on a weekly, monthly or seasonal basis.
Once your boots are clean, dry and protected, it’s time to find them a comfortable daily home. Boots have different storage requirements than shoes do, so they often don’t fit on one-size-fits-all shoe racks. The most important thing to know is that boot shafts need to be supported so that they don’t flop over. A flopping boot shaft is prone to cracking and damage at the crease over time. Why risk it when there are several great products – and DIY solutions – available.
Boot shapers are firm wood or plastic inserts that contour to the inside of your boots and stop them from flopping over. You can also use wine bottles, pool noodles, crumpled-up paper or rolled-up magazines to do the same job.
If you’d rather hang your boots, you can use boots shapers with hooks, run-of-the-mill pant/skirt hangers with clips. For a space-saving option, a hanging boot rack is another great way to get multiple pairs of boots up off the floor and hanging in tidy rows.
Long Term Storage
Preparing your boots for longer-term storage is an essential part of caring for your boots. You don’t want your lesser-worn or out-of-season boots to be crushed at the back of your closet when you’re not wearing them. If you have enough space, clear plastic boot boxes are the perfect solution, especially if you are storing in a garage or attic space that can be prone to mold or moths. Wrap your boots in acid-free paper or use silica gel packs to keep boot materials moisture-free, and then lay them flat inside the box. Label your boot boxes with a pic of what’s inside, and you’ll have no problem finding them when you need them next.
If you lack the space to store stacks of boot boxes consider a hanging boot rack inside a storage closet. The rack will allow you to store multiple pairs of boots vertically inside your closet, keep them aerated and safe from crushing and flopping.
Boots may be made for walkin’ but they also need to be stored from time-to-time. A little extra care to store them properly will allow you to do a lot more walkin’ in the future. Happy trails!