My good buddy Sal came through the shop last week to help me clean up my Red Wing Women's Mocs and my Red Wing Claras - and we got hard to work putting together an easy guide to show you how to keep your boots in check.
Without further ado, here's a basic breakdown for how to care for your Red Wing boots. With proper care and maintenance, these boots can last you through the years.
Step 1: Take Off Laces
Remove the laces from your boots so you can really get a grip on 'em while you clean. Place the laces to the side so you don't lose 'em during the process.
Step 2: Brush 'Em
Use a boot brush to get the dirt out of the leather. Sal explained that there are different kinds of brushes out there for different purposes. You can use the same brush the whole way through the process, or you can have two separate ones for the dirt cleaning (this step) and the after-polish cleaning (Step 6). You can also buy a specific brush for cleaning the welt, or you can use a spare toothbrush too if you have one handy. For my boots, we kept it simple and just used the same brush the whole way through.
Step 3: Use Leather Cleaner or Soap
Use a leather cleaner (Red Wing makes a good one) or soap to clean the boots, after brushing the dirt off. Apply directly onto a rag and rub. Switch the rag over periodically.
You can use the cleaner on the welt and the soles of the Moc Toes, too. If you're really trying to bring your Moc Toe soles back to life, you can take a bit of sanding paper and sand them to make the white pop.
Step 4: Brush 'Em Again
That's right, you heard me. After cleaning your boots, go ahead and brush 'em again before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Use Cream, Oil, or Conditioner
Grab your cream, mink oil, or leather conditioner and get ready to polish. Be advised oils and some conditioners will darken the leather. For my Claras, I opted to use leather cream to enhance their natural patina, rather than darken the leather any. The Red Wing Leather Boot Cream is a great option for any color leather when you're just trying to condition your boots.
For my Moc Toes, I wanted to darken the leather a bit and since I tend to use them in tougher terrain, I also wanted to make sure they held in moisture well so I opted to use boot oil on them instead. Red Wing makes a great All Natural Boot Oil, as well as a great Mink Oil.
Sal advised that mink oil be used primarily for boots that are going through rougher and more varied wear - rain, snow, outdoor work. For strictly city boots, the All Natural Boot Oil will get the job done.
Step 6: Brush 'Em One More Time
Everyone's favorite step! Brush those bad boys one more time to get 'em looking the ultimate fresh.
This was the only time Sal strongly advised keeping your boot brushes separate: If you're using oil, keep the brush for oil with oil.
Step 7 (Optional): Use Shoe Wax if You're Fancy
Optional last step if you're really trying to go the extra mile. You can use shoe wax on the welt and on the heel to really clean 'em up.
I ain't fancy though, so I opted to skip this step. Do what ya want.
Before & After (Moc Toes)
Before & After (Claras)
A SPECIAL NOTE ON FREQUENCY
Everybody's wear is different, so no two boot care systems are exactly alike. The frequency with which you opt to care and condition your boots will vary based on your own personal wear. If you wear 'em hard or like to keep 'em looking out-of-the-box new, you're probably gonna be cleaning these a little bit more than the next gal.
Me personally, I like to wear my boots in for a while before conditioning them in order to get a nicely worn, natural patina.
My Claras pictured here have one full year of wear on them, with no conditioning until now. Just natural patina garnered through work days, hikes, road trips, city walks, beach escapes, and lounging. After hitting the 1 year mark, it was time to give 'em a good cleaning and conditioning. Moving forward, I'll lightly condition them about every 6 months to keep the leather well-cared for.
My Moc Toes, also pictured throughout this guide, have about 8 months of wear on them. However, I use these guys for harder wear - longer hikes, adventures in woodworking, outdoor cleaning, and handy work. They were pretty scuffed up, so it was about time to take care of them too. The oil will last them a good long while of being moisturized, so moving forward I'll just clean 'em up with whatever oil is left on the rag from time to time, once they start looking like they need a little TLC.
If you're looking to keep your leather like new, you're going to want to keep them regularly polished. If you want them to look worn to hell, you're going to want to polish them less. Only you know what you're looking for, so make the call according to you.
And last but not least: WEAR 'EM WELL. Because just like everything here at TC&G, these boots are WELL-MADE, WORN BETTER.