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How to Store Your Winter Boots

 Ah, springtime. Time to dig out the flats and sandals, sorely neglected during the winter, and dash past the boots waiting by the door and into the fresh, sunny, air. Nothing feels as good as hanging up that parka for a few months! But what do you do with your winter boots during the off season? Shove them back in the closet? Leave them sitting by the door, collecting dust? Before you say goodbye and good riddance to your winter boots, there are a few things you should do before putting them away for the season.

Before You Put Your Boots Away

Spring Cleaning

Throw open those windows, re-organize the closets, clean up the yard, dust and clean from floor to ceiling, and clean, condition, waterproof, and repair your winter boots! Do you usually skip that last step? Probably. It’s understandable. After a long winter, it’s tempting to remove all reminders of winter from your eyeline as quickly as possible. But the end of the season is an important time to give your boots (especially leather, suede and nubuck ones) a good, thorough spring cleaning. Those nagging salt stains will not go away over the summer. They will still be there when you pull the boots out in a few months--and by then, the stains will have set. That worn out heel? Won’t grow back. That broken eyelet? Still broken.

For salt stains, a mix of water and vinegar applied to the affected area will neutralize the salt and minimize and erase the stain. After the water/vinegar mix, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth and give it time to dry. The salt stain war can seem never-ending, and depending on how frequently (or infrequently) you go after the stains, it could take a few rounds of cleaning to get rid of them.

If your boots are nylon, you have a little less maintenance to do. Wipe them clean, get at those salt stains--but before you put them away--now’s the time to spray them with a waterproofing agent, especially around seams. That first snowy day is not the time to be waterproofing something. You’ll actually need the boots, and they won’t be ready for you. Give those nylon boots a waterproof treatment before you put them away and you will be prepared for the first snowy day of winter!

For leather boots, after working on the salt stains, give them a good cleaning with a cleaner, and then condition them. You don’t want the leather to get dry out over the spring and summer either, so be sure to condition them after washing them. A lot of conditioners have water proofing agents in them (like mink oil), but if not, be sure to waterproof them now as well.


Just like waterproofing, some things are better not left to the last minute! Do not underestimate the importance of your local shoe repair shop. Broken grommets, laces, worn out heels, and other normal wear and tear on your boots will still be there next winter if you don’t address them in the spring. Your local cobbler can fix these things for you quickly and usually for less money than you would think. But you’re not going to want to drop your boots off in November and wait a week. Much easier to go without boots in April or May!

Storing Your Winter Boots 


Another thing that won’t go away on its own--smelly boots. Let’s face it: sometimes, shoes and boots smell. If you pack smelly boots in a bin for the off season...everything in that bin will smell by the time you open it again. There are dozens and dozens of methods for deodorizing footwear, from store bought to homemade. Whichever method works for you is fine, so long as you put the deodorizer in the boots before you store them.


Wherever you put your boots for the off season, be sure you’re not causing unintended wear and tear on them. Boot forms are a wonderful and affordable investment that will save your boots. Ever put your favorite boots on in the fall and wonder when they got so slouchy, creased, and lumpy? Months of sitting flopped over or piled up can do a lot of damage to leather. A boot form will keep the shaft of the boot from collapsing on itself. Not every boot needs a boot form, but they’re always a good thing to have on hand, especially for taller, leather boots. Those gorgeous, tall, leather boots you wear in the fall? Make sure they look just as good next season by using boot forms in the spring and summer.

While it is best to store leather boots standing upright somewhere, storage bins are often necessary. Just make sure all your boots are clean before you put them in the bin, and if you’ve treated them with conditioner, that the oils have been absorbed. Try to store your heaviest boots at the bottom of the bin. It’s also a great idea to put a cloth, towel, or any old t-shirt or pillow case over each pair of boots. You can buy cotton or muslin boot bags to put your boots in, but any fabric you have lying around will work just the same.

All in all, by taking some time at the end of the winter to properly clean and store your boots will save you time and even money when the days get shorter and the temperatures start to fall.



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