Red Wing Shoes are built to last a lifetime with the combination of sturdy soles, premium leathers, triple Puritan stitching, and the Goodyear welted construction. On average, it takes more than 230 steps to handcraft each pair, but it only takes three steps to keep them probably conditioned and prolong their lifetime expectancy. However, not all the S.B. Foot Tannery leathers that Red Wing uses are the same, they are basically divided into three groups and you need different care products and approaches for each one. In this article we’ll walk you through the different steps for each leather group.
The first group is the oil tanned leathers, which are found on popular models such as the Amber Harness 8111 Iron Ranger and the Oro-iginal 877 Irish Setter. The oil tanned leathers are water, stain and perspiration resistant and they provide exceptional durability and performance. Still, you need to clean, condition and protect your boots on a regular basis to prevent deterioration of the leather.
Clean: Before you start cleaning remove the laces. It’s recommended that you regularly clean off excess dirt from your footwear to prevent wear and drying. For general cleaning, use warm water, a clean cloth and soft bristle brush. For more difficult areas, use Red Wing Shoes’ Leather Cleaner with a clean cloth and brush. Remove the Leather Cleaner with a damp cloth and allow the leather to dry.
Condition: Proper conditioning helps preserve the finish and life of your footwear. For the oil tanned leather your choice of care product is completely dependent on the leather of the boot. For Harness, Oil Slick, Oro-iginal, and Worksmith leathers use Boot Oil; for Blackstar, Boomer, Chrome, Mustang, and Portage leathers use leather conditioner; and for Mesa and Rough & Tough leathers use Mink Oil. You can apply the conditioner with your fingers, a soft cloth or a sponge.
Protect: For extra protection, add Red Wing Leather Protector which provides an invisible shield from water, dirt, oil and mud.
The second group of leathers is the reverse suede leathers, also known as “roughouts,” which includes Abilene, Mohave and Muleskinner. It’s a common misperception that roughouts are less durable than the full grain oil tanned leathers. Leather is composed of three parts: the skin surface (top grain), the middle (corium), and the bottom of the hide (flesh side). Most tanneries employ a process of splitting and thinning hides to create the rough surface, which gives a less durable upper leather. For Red Wing roughouts the top grain leather remains intact as it’s simply inverted, placing the top grain surface on the inside of the boot. Since the top grain of the leather is not removed, the durability, quality, and water resistance are maintained throughout the tanning process. In fact, Mohave and Muleskinner roughouts are water resistant.
Clean: We recommend Red Wing’s own Suede Cleaner Kit for all roughouts. Lightly rub the edge of the Suede Bar over the stained areas. For deep stains apply more pressure. If the stain still remains, wet both the Suede Bar and the stain with clean water and repeat the rubbing action. Let the leather dry, then apply Suede Bar to remove water spots. Brush up the boot with the Suede Brush. IMPORTANT: Do not at anytime use Leather Cleaner for roughout leathers as it may stain and change the texture of the leather.
Condition: For Muleskinner leather apply Mink Oil. Abilene and Mohave leathers require no conditioner.
Protect: As with the oil tanned leathers you can protect your Red Wing roughouts with Leather Protector. To extend the life of the boots you can also spray them with the Protector before wearing them for the first time.
The third group is the smooth finished leathers, which include the Featherstone and the Chaparral leathers. These full finished leathers have a smooth, polished surface. Featherstone is Red Wing’s premium leather used in the Beckman collection. By hand-selecting only the finest hides, the master tanner produces a leather that’s not only beautiful but also abrasion resistant. Chaparral is water, stain and perspiration resistant and can be polished to restore color and luster.
Clean: Again, remove excess dirt from the boots. The cleaning procedure resembles that of the oil tanned leathers: warm water, a clean cloth and soft bristle brush. With the smooth finished leather the Leather Cleaner also comes in handy, always remember to remove the cleaner with a damp cloth and allow the leather to dry.
Condition: Apply Boot Cream with a clean soft cloth and shine the boot by brushing with a soft horse-hair brush.
Protect: The Leather Protector is once again the way to go for extra protection.
If you like to see how it’s done on all three leather groups, our friends from the Red Wing Shoes store in Amsterdam has put together this video: