How Do I Care for Military Boots?

A good pair of military boots can last years if cared for properly and involves just a few simple steps. In general, military boots are relatively low maintenance but do require some basic upkeep that is easy and not at all time consuming.

First off, when boots are new out of the box, they can be very stiff and uncomfortable and should be broken in thoroughly before they are worn for any length of time. They should be broken in naturally by wearing them for short periods of time, increasing the wearing time gradually until they are comfortable enough to wear regularly. If blisters occur after being broken in, it is likely that the boots were improperly sized and should be changed out for a properly fitting pair. Today's military boots should never be heated or soaked in water to break them in more quickly. This may break down the structural integrity of the boot, cause discomfort, and significantly shorten their life.

Military boots are usually made of highly durable materials such as leather, nylon fabric, and polyurethane rubber. Unlike footwear of the past, these modern day materials are intended to provide comfort while keeping things lightweight. These modern materials require minimal and periodic care to keep your boot in top shape so the wearer can stay comfortable, thus performing at their best.

For maintaining suede leather boots, first use a nylon bristled brush, included in most suede shoe maintenance kits Brush the surface of the upper until dry components such as dust and dirt are removed from the leather and fabric of the boot. If there is dirt remaining which is often times mud, use a lint-free wet cloth to moisten and remove the embedded dirt. This will be enough to clean leather and fabric uppers in most cases. For oil and chemical stains, a degreaser such as Simple Green may be used. Just make sure you test a small area with a diluted amount of cleaner first to prevent further staining, discoloring, or destroying the boot before you wash the entire area. the exterior of the boots will help with the removal of dirt and other things that may stick to the boots. Just keep in mind that only water soluble cleaning agents should be used on boots as harsher chemicals such as alcohol and oil based cleaners can damage the boots, thus shortening the life.

It is not necessary to polish suede boots but a leather or suede protectant can be used on the leather and fabric portions of the boot if the owner desires the extra level of protection from the elements such as water. For waterproofing, 3M Scotchguard spray is recommended. This extra step is not truly necessary but is not harmful to the integrity of the boot.

Even though the Army and Air Force have transitioned to suede leather boots for uniform wear, smooth leather boots are still authorized in some cases. To maintain these, first use a lint-free wet cloth to remove any dust and dirt from the surface of the leather. They apply colored shoe polish with a brush and allow to dry for 10 minutes. Then use a softer buffing brush to remove the dried polish and create a light shine.

If a glassy shine is preferred usually on the toe and heel area, again apply the shoe polish using a lint-free damp cloth. However, twist the cloth tightly around your index finger to create a small, buffing area at the "fingerprint area" of the cloth. Dab the cloth in water, then in shoe polish, and apply the polish in a small circular motion to the intended area. Continue this process for 10-15 minutes and you will start to see a mirror shine slowly appear. Once a base layer of polish is created, it will not require much polishing to regain that same shine.

Today's boots are constructed with a hard, replaceable rubber or composite rubber soles which, over time, will wear down. Boots should be checked regularly to ensure that they are not worn past the lugs or sole pattern. This will compromise the traction of the boot and will affect performance. If the sole is worn past this point, have the sole replaces at a shoe repair shop if possible. Just keep in mind that many of today's footwear manufacturing processes integrate the sole into the midsole so replacement of the sole of these boots will not be replaceable in some cases.

Other Resources:
Kiwi Suede Shoe Cleaner -