How do you take care of your boots after they have gotten wet?
This question comes up so often during these winter months given that our boots take even more abuse around the barnyard than normal due to the rain, snow, and ice. A good pair of comfy leather boots can be pretty pricey, so we know how important it is to you that your boots last a long time.
In order to help you keep your boots surviving another winter and lasting as long as possible, we recommend that you pop your boots on a boot dryer after every wear.
Within the leather footwear industry, using boot driers on leather shoes and boots is actually a fairly controversial topic. This seems rather crazy to us since, really, a boot drier isn't exactly a cutting edge or radical tool. Many argue that boot driers will dry out the leather, the adhesives, and the stitching, resulting in a more brittle boot that will fall apart sooner than if a drier was not used. Although there is some truth behind these arguments, the benefits of using a boot drier far outweigh the possible negatives.
Why using a boot drier will help save your boots:
1. Dries boots quickly. The longer footwear is wet, the greater the damage to the structure of the leather and stitching, which results in hardening, brittleness, and rot.
2. Quickly eliminates moisture, reducing bacteria and mold growth. Without a boot dryer, air drying gives plenty of time and moisture for bacteria to thrive in your boots.
3. Reduction of bacteria growth helps reduce odors. Who doesn't love to not have stinky boots?
The chances that you will over-dry your boots, resulting in dried out leather, adhesives, and glue is slim to none. In general, we've found that approximately 2 hours on a dryer is more than sufficient to dry our barn and paddock boots, so exposure time is short. Additionally, boot driers gently dry boots at low temperatures - think more warm summer day than an oven.
Also, if you ever feel that your boots are becoming dry, you can quickly remedy this by applying a coat or two of conditioner in order to rehydrate both leather and stitching. Remember, it is better for your leather boots (and all leather goods) to be in need of a little conditioner rather than to be overmoisturized, such as due to sweat, weather, or conditioner overuse. It is much harder to restore the health of wet/overconditioned leather versus dried out leather.
We have had great success using boot driers for years to keep our leather shoes and boots in excellent condition. With regular use, a boot dryer can do a lot to help you keep your boots in great shape through this winter. Combined with a solid leather care routine, your boots and shoes will have a long life ahead of them.