How to take care of boat shoes

Updated February 21, 2017

Boat shoes or docksiders are the favourite footwear of warm weather mariners. These leather shoes are known for not slipping on the slick surfaces that are found on board a boat. They are also known for protecting a mariner's feet against water. If the leather is not cared for properly, it will soon crack making the expensive shoes worthless. Products such as mink oil will make the shoes water resistant. If these shoes are properly cared for they will give you years of use.

Clean the shoes with a soft cloth dipped in a mild dish soap solution. According to, "You should never use anything on leather that contains an acid or detergent." Simply wipe the shoes with the damp cloth ensuring that you remove all of the dirt and other material that has collected.

Rinse the shoes and allow them to air dry. Do not soak the shoes in water, but a quick rinsing under the sprayer in your sink to remove all of the soap will not hurt them. Stuff the shoes with newspaper after you are done to help them to retain their shape as they dry.

Apply leather conditioner. Mink oil is a good conditioner to use if you have a darker coloured shoe. It will cause lighter coloured leather to become darker. Mink oil will also make the leather more supple and water resistant. If you have lighter coloured boat shoes, use a spray silicone to make the shoes water resistant. It is a must to apply this conditioner before you wear the shoes the first time and again before each boating season begins.

Apply paste type shoe polish. Ensure that you are using a polish that is specifically made for leather. The paste type polish will help to preserve the leather and bring back its original colour.

Things You'll Need

  • Boat shoes
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Mink oil
  • Silicone spray
  • Paste type shoe polish
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About the Author

Jay Angel has been a writer since 1998, specializing in scientific writing, as well as articles about fishing and hunting. He worked as a columnist for the Illinois newspapers, "Daily Chronicle" and "News Tribune." Angel has a Master of Science in fluvial geomorphology from Northern Illinois University.