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Tip #1: Condition, Wear, Repeat

What It's For: leather boots

Why You Need It: Whether your boots are brand new or decade-old standbys, you need this. Dabbing it on new boots seals them from water and shields them from scuffs, while rubbing it into old boots reconditions the leather and makes it supple again.

Tip #2: Invest in a Cedar Boot Tree

What It's For: tall boots

Why You Need It: You don't want to put damp boots directly in front of a heater to dry, because you'll risk overheating the leather and causing cracks in the long run. Instead, you'll want to slip a cedar boot tree into them, because the wood absorbs moisture quickly and naturally—plastic and newspaper just won't cut it. (And yeah, they're expensive, but you really only need one cedar tree to keep in rotation, not a pair for each boot. It's the hour after you wear them that's most crucial for drying and re-shaping them.)




Tip #3: Do Damage Control However You Can

What It's For: leather boots

Why You Need It: Realistically you're not going to keep polish or cleaner in your bag at all times. But if you do trudge to your friend's house in the snow and want to do a little damage control once you get there, this is what you'll want. Mix 1 part of it with 2 parts water, and dap it in on your boots to remove salt stains. (People usually keep it handy because it's what you use to clean coffee makers, so it should be easy to find.)

Tip #4: Be Wary of Travel Hazards

What It's For: any boots

Why You Need It: Sure, boot bags are great for protecting your clothes from dirty shoes, of course, but it's a two-way street! You'll also want to make sure your boots don't get scuffed up by belts, jewelry and zippers when you travel by investing in a proper boot bag big enough to cover the whole thing.

Tip #5: Pick Up a Multi-Purpose Cleaner

What It's For: most material boots

Why You Need It: It's gentle enough to use on a whole range of materials (including leather and suede), so if you're looking for an all-in-one sort of thing, this is it.

Tip #6: Protect the Sole

What It's For: Flat, wedge or chunky-heeled boots

Why You Need It: The first thing that starts to go on the boot is usually the outer edges of the sole, and once that happens, the damage can creep up to the top part of the boot that meets the sole and get them all scuffed up and worn thin, too. Save yourself that fate (and more than a few trips to the cobbler) by sticking one of these on the soles of the boot for a buffer layer.

Tip #7: Buy Fun Stuff You'll Actually Want to Use

What It's For: leather boots

Why You Need It: Because you'll actually want to polish your boots if you have a cool-looking kit like this.

Tip #8: Don't Overlook Your Rubber Boots

What It's For: rubber boots

Why You Need It: This spray removes that chalky white layer that builds up on rubber boots over time, restoring their shiny, new finish instead. (They may be waterproof, but rubber boots need love, too.)


Tip #9: Don't Take Shortcuts with Suede and Nubuck

What It's For: suede and nubuck boots

Why You Need It: Sude and nubuck are tricky materials, so you'll want to make sure you get the right stuff to take care of them and don't take any shortcuts. This kit is exactly what you need: it'll let you lift dirt stains with that specially formulated cleaning bar, then get the nap (you know, the fuzziness of the suede) back to normal by lightly combing it with the brush.

Tip #10: Clean Your Shearling, Too

What It's For: shearling and sheepskin-lined boots

Why You Need It: Even the most cozy and rugged-looking materials need proper care.

Tip #11: Try Travel-Sized, Stuff, Too

What It's For: leather boots

Why You Need It: On trips home over Thanksgiving and the holidays,  those boots will probably be getting a lot of wear. Having something handy like this might mean you'll actually take the time to take care of them.