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Dear Professor Nikwax: How do I care for my footwear?

Dear Professor Nikwax,

My summer plans have me climbing several peaks, riding my bike along the California coast, and wearing my sandals to the Farmer’s Market. Of course I’ll also be logging a lot of time in the office. I’ve invested in some good shoes for the different sports, but I want to take care of them so they last through the season and beyond. Help!

-Wanderluster

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Wanderluster,

Your instincts are correct; even the highest-quality footwear needs regular cleaning and conditioning to last.

Congratulations on taking the time to learn about the best steps for caring for your kicks.

I’ve put together a handy chart to remind you about what to do for different shoes and when. Print it out and hang it in your gear closet!

Then, read on for a break down by sport.

Back_room_poster_footwearv4

Hiking/mountain climbing

As you know, stable boots or hiking shoes with lateral support, excellent tread, and waterproofing are priority number one when you’re heading to the high country.

Leather: Before you do anything, clean ‘em with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. This gets rid of the dirt and establishes a clean slate for the next step: waterproofing.

Are they pretty beat up? Treat them with Conditioner for Leather, which is absorbed into the leather and helps keep the material supple.

Then, even if your boots come with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex, waterproof them. We’ve got both a wax and liquid waterproofing product, and both can go directly onto wet leather. So sit down, clean, waterproof, and leave to dry.

Finally, send me a picture from one of the peaks you climb this summer.

Fabric and leather combo: Whether we’re talking about your ultra light trail runners or your low-top hiking shoes (which is what I use in all but the most epic mountaineering adventures), this leather and fabric combo needs to be cleaned with the Nikwax footwear cleaning gel and then treated with our Fabric & Leather Proof product. I guarantee this will add water repellency and keep your shoes in better condition, longer.

Biking

Until recently, I thought high-end, leather cycling shoes were the purview of professional cyclists. Then I got a pair. Wow. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and they make me feel powerful. I, like you, want to return the affection. So I use the same products on my leather biking shoes that I do for my leather hiking boots: clean, condition, waterproof.

Sandals

The worst thing about sandals is the stench. Sporty sandals with a rubber sole and technical fabric upper can collect stinky bacteria and, put simply, reek. Fortunately the Nikwax Sandal Wash deodorizes and sanitizes those bad boys.

Office/Daily wear

Are your office shoes nubuck or suede? Then treat them with the Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof waterproofing. Leather? See the instructions for leather footwear above.

I hope that answers your questions. Follow these tips and your shoes will last far beyond this summer.

Happy travels!

Best,

Professor Nikwax

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Leave a comment

Dear Professor Nikwax: How do I care for my footwear?

Dear Professor Nikwax,

My summer plans have me climbing several peaks, riding my bike along the California coast, and wearing my sandals to the Farmer’s Market. Of course I’ll also be logging a lot of time in the office. I’ve invested in some good shoes for the different sports, but I want to take care of them so they last through the season and beyond. Help!

-Wanderluster

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Wanderluster,

Your instincts are correct; even the highest-quality footwear needs regular cleaning and conditioning to last.

Congratulations on taking the time to learn about the best steps for caring for your kicks.

I’ve put together a handy chart to remind you about what to do for different shoes and when. Print it out and hang it in your gear closet!

Then, read on for a break down by sport.

back_room_poster_4_2010.indd

Hiking/mountain climbing

As you know, stable boots or hiking shoes with lateral support, excellent tread, and waterproofing are priority number one when you’re heading to the high country.

Leather: Before you do anything, clean ‘em with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. This gets rid of the dirt and establishes a clean slate for the next step: waterproofing.

Are they pretty beat up? Treat them with Conditioner for Leather, which is absorbed into the leather and helps keep the material supple.

Then, even if your boots come with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex, waterproof them. We’ve got both a wax and liquid waterproofing product, and both can go directly onto wet leather. So sit down, clean, waterproof, and leave to dry.

Finally, send me a picture from one of the peaks you climb this summer.

Fabric and leather combo: Whether we’re talking about your ultra light trail runners or your low-top hiking shoes (which is what I use in all but the most epic mountaineering adventures), this leather and fabric combo needs to be cleaned with the Nikwax footwear cleaning gel and then treated with our Fabric & Leather Proof product. I guarantee this will add water repellency and keep your shoes in better condition, longer.

Biking

Until recently, I thought high-end, leather cycling shoes were the purview of professional cyclists. Then I got a pair. Wow. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and they make me feel powerful. I, like you, want to return the affection. So I use the same products on my leather biking shoes that I do for my leather hiking boots: clean, condition, waterproof.

Sandals

The worst thing about sandals is the stench. Sporty sandals with a rubber sole and technical fabric upper can collect stinky bacteria and, put simply, reek. Fortunately the Nikwax Sandal Wash deodorizes and sanitizes those bad boys.

Office/Daily wear

Are your office shoes nubuck or suede? Then treat them with the Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof waterproofing. Leather? See the instructions for leather footwear above.

I hope that answers your questions. Follow these tips and your shoes will last far beyond this summer.

Happy travels!

Best,

Professor Nikwax


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Not JUST for Outdoor Gear

The Situation:

After a weekend walking around in Seattle’s poor rainy excuse for a summer, I noticed that my favorite black flats were covered in white marks. The marks look not unlike the stains that are common from road salt in the winter – and like road salt stains, these were persistent and refused to be rubbed away. The shoes in question are made by Born of a particularly soft leather, with unfinished seams at the heel. In addition to the change in appearance, the texture of the leather had become somewhat brittle. It was time to put on the ‘ole Nikwax thinking cap.

Note the white lines on the upper near the toe and heel

Note the white lines on the upper near the toe and heel

Nikwax products work best when used as a team (cleaner+proofer), so for this job I chose Footwear Cleaning Gel  to remove the white marks and any additional dirt/grime/grit and Conditioner for Leather to restore softness and flexibility to the leather as well as to waterproof the leather so this wouldn’t happen again. Since these flats are one of my favorite (and therefore frequently worn) pairs of shoes, I also enlisted the help of Waterproofing Wax for Leather in Black to restore color at the toe and heel where it had begun to fade.

The arsenal: Footwear Cleaning Gel and Conditioner for Leather

Almost all Nikwax products are colorless. This product was designed to add color back to black leather goods (look for the black cap at your local retailer).

The Process:

  1. Get the first shoe wet. Nikwax products are all water based (and travel on water), so there isn’t any such thing as too much water/too wet.

    Using the faucet works just fine, but if this makes you nervous you can also use a sponge or wet rag to dampen the shoe - just make sure to get it good and wet anywhere that you'll be applying products

  2. Scrub the shoe with liberal quantities of Footwear Cleaning Gel– feel free to use the sponge applicator, your hands, a soft bristled brush – whatever it takes to get all the grime off (be gentle if your shoes are made of lambskin, suede or anything super soft and scratchable).

    It'll look filmy or soapy - like this!

    3. Rinse the shoe well – again use plenty of water.

    Rinse thoroughly - water temp doesn't really matter, just don't use HOT

    4. Apply Nikwax Conditioner for Leather – use the sponge applicator or your hands to work it into the (still wet) leather. Pay special attention to seams or areas where things have been attached like straps, laces, etc…

    All Nikwax products are non-toxic, so don't be afraid to work the Conditioner into the leather with your fingers

    5. Let the product sit on the leather for a couple minutes (literally, 2 or 3 is fine).

    It'll look milky or filmy - don't panic, this is temporary 🙂

    6. Remove excess product and buff with a soft cloth/rag.

    Wipe off/rub in all visible product. If any remains, it WILL be visible after it's dry

    *7. This was the point at which I applied the Waterproofing Wax for Leather in Black. Generally you won’t be able to apply anything AFTER a waterproofer (because it won’t be able to penetrate). But, since I was applying it to badly scuffed/worn areas, I just used a light hand with the Conditioner and then went back over the same spots with the black. IF you choose to use a colored Nikwax product, be careful, the liquid is runny and it can stain.

    The finished product - the white marks are gone and the leather is soft and flexible again!

    7. Repeat with shoe #2.

    BEFORE - looking pretty sad, indeed!

    AFTER - they look new again! Boo-yeah, Nikwax!

     

Any and all of these products can be found online at retailers like Amazon, REI, Altrec, Backcountry. Or use the Dealer Locator on our website to find a Nikwax dealer in your ‘hood.

And… since we are who we are, I couldn’t resist…

CHECK OUT THAT BEADING ACTION!! 🙂

Have fun! Enjoy the sun! Stay dry.