How to Water Proof Work Boots

Written by dan antony
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Work boots must protect your toes from being crushed, provide ankle support and keep your feet dry. The leather of work boots is thicker and tougher than that of shoes and doesn't require a high polish; so the boots can stand aggressive waterproofing. Silicon-based spray repellents work well on dress shoes, but do not penetrate or last as long as do petroleum-based repellents. Your goal is to impregnate the boots with water repellent mink oil, neat's-foot oil or leather dubbin wherever water can penetrate.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Toothbrush
  • Saddle soap
  • Soft rags
  • Mink oil, neat's-foot oil or leather dubbin

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  1. 1

    Remove the laces, if there are any, since you will need to apply the oil or dubbin to the tongue of the boot as well as the leather uppers.

  2. 2

    Wash off any dirt or stains with saddle soap. Work the soap into the welts, the joint between the sole and the upper, with an old toothbrush. Allow the boots to dry overnight.

  3. 3

    Work the oil or dubbin into the welts with your toothbrush; the welt is where you will get the most water penetration.

  4. 4

    Use a rag to work the oil or dubbin into the tongue. Here too is where water tends to collect and penetrate. You will notice the leather darkening; that is a sign that the waterproof agent is penetrating.

  5. 5

    Work the oil or dubbin into any seams with your toothbrush.

  6. 6

    Work the oil or dubbin into the rest of the boot with a rag.

  7. 7

    Run cold tap water over the boots. If you have waterproofed them well, you should be able to shake them completely dry. Look for any spots you missed.

Tips and warnings

  • Of the three, mink oil is more readily available and easier to use than neat's-foot oil or dubbin.
  • Allow the oil or dubbin to soften and penetrate for at least eight hours before you wear the boots.
  • Repeat your waterproofing once every week if you wear your boots constantly in rainy conditions.
  • The above steps work well for hiking boots, cowboy boots or any other heavy leather boot.
  • Wear the boots around the house, once you have waterproofed them, to speed up the penetration.

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