These boots were made for walking! It’s the time of year when we need a good boot to save us from the harsh winter months and if you are investing in a good pair of boots, you probably want to give them a good spray, with a protectant that will keep the salt at bay and help your boots last longer! Here are my tips on How To Protect & Clean Your Boots Naturally In The Winter.
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So what is the deal with a shoe-protecting spray?
Well, in many cases they are highly flammable and come with some serious warnings on the labels like, “extreme danger”, “poison”, “may catch fire”, “fumes may be harmful” etc.
These words and phrases are a good indication and can help you spot greenwashing. Some products say all-natural beeswax on the front, but on the back, you have all these warnings. So buyer beware.
If you are buying an aerosol spray, it will emit volatile organic compounds or VOCs into the air thanks to petroleum (one of the ingredients), VOCs are one of the main contributors to indoor air pollution.
In many cases, these sprays are recommended to be used outside or in the garage, another warning sign. This is thanks to the fact that sprays and waxes can contain ingredients known as PFOAs or Perfluorooctanoic acid.
PFOAs are present in many things we have in the home like Non-stick pans, furniture, cosmetics, household cleaners, clothing, and packaged food containers can all contain PFCs, many of which break down into PFOA in the environment or in the human body.
The brand names included: Teflon, Stainmaster, Scotchgard, SilverStone, and others. PFCs are also used in a vast array of industrial products and processes. PFOAs are bio-accumulative and have been found in caribou, belugas, seals, and many Canadian waterways.
How to shop for toxic-free boot protectors?
Make sure that the label says free of fluorinated chemicals.
Stay away from silicone, many brands that are silicone-based can contain octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane or Cyclotetrasiloxane which works as a skin-conditioning agent and emollient. It's found in sunscreens.
Like all other silicones, this ingredient has a unique fluidity that makes it easily spreadable. When applied to the skin, it gives a silky & slippery feeling to the touch and acts as a mild water repellent by forming a protective barrier on the skin. Cyclotetrasiloxane or D4 is toxic to the human reproduction system and it accumulates in the environment with unpredictable long-term effects. Cyclopentasiloxane (D5) can also be harmful to the environment.
Avoid Mink Oil, it's extracted from the abdomen area of the minks that are raised on Mink farms. This Mink Oil Company says, “Only about 3 to 10 grams can be obtained per mink”. So what happens to the rest of the animal? It's pretty horrid to think that so little of the animal is being used. Is the rest discarded? ☹️
Avoid anything boot sprays that come in an aerosol, including mink oil.
Other ingredients to avoid
Ethylene glycol, Butane and zirconium butanolate, Paraffin, Turpentine, and Petroleum distillate.
Brands to look for
Nikwax is free from fluorinated chemicals and propellant gases, which are VOCs. It’s also cruelty-free.
Dr. Martens has one that’s made from coconut oil, lanolin, and beeswax. But, lanolin is a refined derivative of the fat-like sebaceous secretion of sheep.
How to take care of your boots properly?
Make sure you are wiping off salt regularly. I like to use a little bit of water on a cloth with either vinegar or baking soda. I use vinegar (equal parts vinegar and water) for salt stains and baking soda for minor scuffs. Add a tiny bit to a bowl of water, dab the cloth in, rub gently then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Remove salt stains as soon as they happen, don't leave them, the salt will set in and create that white rim we all love so much.
For dirt and grime, I actually use Castille soap. Don't use a lot, a little goes a long way. Spray a cloth with water, in a bowl of warm water add a drop of Castile soap, wring all the water out, then wipe gently.
You can also stuff your boots with leftover newspapers to help absorb the excess water.
Make sure the boots are completely dry before applying a thin coat of beeswax or carnauba wax.
It's also a great idea to have a good brush on hand. It's best if it's made from natural fibers.
If you want to have boots that can withstand the winter, pick a brand that specializes in winter gear. I have one really good pair that I wear in the winter, I carry my good boots in a bag and switch them out when I get to my destination, be that work or an event.
Make sure you test a small area of whatever boots you are cleaning, you can also check with the manufacturers regarding the natural options recommended in this post.