Shoe Care 101: How to Clean and Oil Your Safety Footwear

We all know to take care of our tools at our jobs. Clean your tools, use the right tool for the job, sweep the floor, clean up spills, put things back where they go.

Just like the rest of the tools you use for work, your footwear needs some attention and care every so often as well. Leather, like your own skin, has natural oils that make it soft and help keep the leather water resistant and smooth. We break down and lose the oils in the leather as we wear shoes and expose them to some of the harsh environments we work on. Think about the things you work in every day; how would your own skin fair in that environment?

Leather, again like your own skin, needs to be cleaned and moisturized (or oiled) regularly. What does that mean? Well, take a look below for some basic shoe care tips.

1) Always allow footwear to dry before cleaning

Not only does this make sure that you aren’t making a mess of yourself cleaning your shoes, but things like mud and dust come off significantly easier when dry. Ideally, you should let shoes dry at least 24 hours before cleaning. If you can’t, removing the bulk of the mess with a rag is better than nothing.

Oh, and try not to use one of those forced air, heated boot driers, they just dry out the leather more and make it more work for you later.

2) Prepare your cleaning area and supplies

I like to clean my bots outside, makes cleanup afterwords a lot easier. If you don’t need to oil, you just need a rag and a boot brush. If you need to oil, you will need additional rags and your oil as well. I like to oil my boots about once a month with the kind of things I work in.


All You Need

Getting everything together before you start

I personally like to remove my laces for a good cleaning, it makes it easier to get at everything. Now is also a good time to inspect laces and your shoes themselves for any damage or issues before they get too bad.

3) Clean the bottoms of your shoes

Some boot brushes, like mine from Wolverine, have rubber parts that assist with getting dirt and grime out of the lugs of your outsoles.

Keep that gunk off your floors

Keep that gunk off your floors

Once all that is cleaned out, you have a clean base to work from.

4)Brush the uppers with your brush to remove dirt

Since you let all the dirt dry on your boots, it should come off relatively easily with a good brushing. Start from the top and work your way down the boot with swift, firm strokes using your boots brush.

Dirt should come right off

Dirt should come right off

After you brush, give your boots a quick wipe down with a dry cloth.

5)Use clean rags and your preferred oil to oil your boots

I personally like to use cut up white cotton t-shirts for this. Whenever one gets a hole, i cut it up and it goes in the box with the cleaning supplies, I just throw them away when they get too dirty. As far as oils go, there are many options and many opinions as to what is the best. I prefer neatsfoot or Mink oil, what I am using here is a Mink oil with cleanser, again from Wolverine.

This stuff runs about $7-10

This stuff runs about $7-10

Use a clean rag to work a good amount of oil into it, and begin working it into the leather, don’t worry if it seems a little thick, we are going to be taking care of that shortly. Begin working the oil into sections.

Be sure to get everywhere you can

Be sure to get everywhere you can

If you have a boot that was tanned with a color, especially dark colors or black, you may notice a little color coming off, that is nothing to worry about as long as it isn’t damaging the leather. You may want to test in a small area before you start with a new oil though.

6) Buff excess oil out of the leather

Once you have oiled both boots, go back to the first and, with a new clean cloth, start to buff out the oil to remove and excess from the leather. You should be left with a leather that has a good hand to it, similar to when you bought it, if not with a little more oil. Some dirt and color may come off in this stage too, that’s not a bad thing.


7) Put your laces in and clean up!

You did it! Your boots are clean and well oiled, lace them back up in your preferred style and you are good to go. On a side note, it is best if you can let these sit overnight to really let the oil soak in.



I personally like to do steps 1-4 about once a week as time permits, and the whole process about once every couple of months (your timing may vary depending on leather type and work environment). You may find that less or more often is better for you and your job. If you start to see leather cracking or feeling very dry to the touch, it’s time to get some moisture back into the leather. It’s better if you make sure you don’t get to that point. Follow these steps and you can add some good life back into tired boots. Stay Safe out there everyone!

Shoemobile Service: Offering the Complete Solution

It's a question we get asked all the time: Why is Shoemobile Service better than reimbursing employees or putting money in their check to buy shoes?  While there is no one size fits all solution for your safety program, there are several answers to that question.



Shoemobile Service 

More than just sales. Solutions.

The first answer to "Why Shoemobile Service?" is simple, Shoemobile Service is a total solution.  We here at Sid Boedeker Safety Shoes will help guide you through every step of the process, from inspecting your workplace to identify your needs, helping establish requirments for your program, on-site sales, dedicated account reps, centrally located billing services, and the brands your employees know and trust.  We make it easy for you to have a safety shoe program without requiring you or your staff to get involved in the shoe business.  

The second answer is compliance.  It is always easier for your staff to ensure that everyone is wearing the proper footwear for their job if you have a single source that ONLY provides footwear that is approved for your location.  There is not second guessing with your program as we ensure that all the footwear sold meets your requirements.

Finally, a Shoemobile Service Program helps your employees too.  Your employees have a single source to provide them with the footwear they need, helping to remove the burden of unnecessary approval processes, buying and returning shoes, and needing to spend their off time to go and purchase shoes.  They also get a little noticed benefit: employees do not pay income taxes on Shoemobile Purchased shoes.  When an employee gets money put into their check for footwear, not only is the employer paying FICA on that money, but the employee is paying all relevant income taxes on it as well, reducing the benefit they get from that program.  

We at Sid Boedeker Safety Shoe Service, and the rest of the Hytest Safety Footwear Network, truly believe that Shoemobile Service is the ultimate solution for your footwear program needs!  Give us a call today to see what we can do for you!

If you need to know the nearest Hytest Network dealer near you, check out this locator: 



When it Comes to Footwear, Size Really Does Matter

You're probably wearing the wrong shoe size

Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 50-80% of all people are wearing the wrong size shoe.  While there are many reasons for this, us retailers are partially at fault for this epidemic.  The retail game has changed, so many places no longer fit their customers for shoes; either boxes with many sizes are left out or associates will just grab whatever size a customer asks for.  All too often, customers are left attempting to understand how to measure their foot properly, generally without a proper measuring device.  We aim to address this problem in our stores and Shoemobiles.

We always strive to measure every customer that comes into our stores, mobile or otherwise, this makes sure that we know what we are working with when we recommend shoes, and the customer is confident that we are striving to take care of them.

What you can do about it

In short, make sure your feet are measured.  Most shoe stores will have something called a Brannock Device; you've probably seen these, a (usually) metal plank with lines designating a size.  Many of these will also have a slider to measure your arch and a slider to measure the width of your foot.


Make sure you use these if available.  Many times (especially in safety footwear!), your arch measurement means more than your toe.  This is because your arch measurement determines where the shoe flexes at the outsole and on your toes.  If your arch is too short, a steel toe cap or tight laces could cause you pain in your foot, if it is too long, it will cause your foot to slide around, which can damage the shoes and cause blisters.  

If you don't have access to a Brannock device, there are some tips you can use to check fit.  First, you should have room to move your toes freely; if you can't wiggle them, your shoes are too tight!  Next, your laces should run parallel to one another in roughly straight lines,  if they are touching, the shoe is too big, if they are spreading, they are too small.  Third, there may be some heel slip in a new shoe, this can be because the soles are stiff when new.  About a quarter inch of slip is generally acceptable, any more will cause premature wear of the lining of the shoes.  Leather will stretch but do not rely on it, lower quality leathers or action leather will not stretch or may become weak when stretched.  

Safety footwear MUST be fitted

One final point of conversation; Per OSHA, all PPE must be properly fitted, donned and doffed.  This means that a trained person must make sure that your footwear fits correctly, just like a respirator or fall arrestors.  This includes properly putting the shoes on (lace them up!) and taking them off (untie and don't kick them off!) Our trained personnel make sure that your footwear is fitting the  way that it should to protect you and be comfortable.