4 Tips For Keeping Your Duty Boots In Fighting Shape

Your Duty Boots In Fighting Shape

After taking your time to do your due diligence and get a new pair of duty boots, there are still many tips and techniques you need to know to help maximize your investment, keep your feet comfortable around the clock, and minimize wear and tear.

Here are the top four tips for taking your boot maintenance regiment to a new level!

4 Tips For Keeping Your Duty Boots In Fighting Shape

Create A Shoe Shine Kit

The first step in keeping your duty boots shining and maintaining them should be to set up a good shoe shine kit. You can use a small box with a lid to store all your paraphernalia and hold any shoe polish spills. Your shoe shine kit should include:

– A tin of wax shoe polish

– 100% cotton polishing diaper, rag, or old T-shirt

– Newspaper

– Rubbing alcohol (optional)

– Horsehair shine brush

– Q-tips for seam application


The origin of the term “spit-shine” can be traced back to a period when military soldiers in combat had no option but to use any moisture resource that was accessible to them at the moment to shine their boots. Since then, there have been many variations of the original spit-shine process that are pretty effective in realizing a mirror shine on tactical boots.

According to Orthotic Shop one popular technique is to use a small polish brush to apply a thick coat of polish to the whole boot. Allow 10 -15 minutes for the coat to dry, then use a horsehair brush to brush off excess polish, which will leave a thin film remaining on the boots.

Another trick used by many officers is to melt the polish into the boot’s leather with the heat from a lighter. After applying the polish, you allow it to set, then buff with a nylon cloth (not cotton), giving your boots a high, glossy shine.

Another unique application technique involves using a glass bottle to force the polish into the leather creases and pores. Next, leave it in a cool place to set overnight. This is a great technique for bringing up a smooth shine on areas where creases developed in the leather. After allowing the polish to set, get rid of the excess dried polish with a brush and begin buffing.

4 Tips For Keeping Your Duty Boots In Fighting Shape

4 Tips For Keeping Your Duty Boots In Fighting Shape


Achieving the first shine on a new pair of duty boots can be tricky. But the process will get easier every time you shine your shoes as several layers of wax on the boots will make it easier to achieve a shine faster. One of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office finest, Deputy Tritenbach, compares shining boots to the process of waxing a car of polishing brass. The process “takes a while to get there,” but the results will be worth your time and effort.

To begin polishing your boots, use a horsehair brush to remove surface dirt from your tactical boots thoroughly. Pay close attention to the creases and seams where dirt can gather. If brushing isn’t enough to clean dirt in crevices, use a damp cloth. Let your boots thoroughly dry before polishing.

Make sure you cover the entire boot with shoe polish. Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Brenner recommends applying a light, thin coat of polish first.

“So thin, it’s just a haze,” he suggested. Let the polish coat set for a minute or two before buffing.

Another similar technique is to use a polish brush to apply a thick coat of polish to the entire boot. Give the coat 15 minutes to dry, then use a horsehair brush to brush off excess polish, which will create a thin film on your shoes.

Next, wrap a soft, 100% cotton, lint-free rag tightly around your finger until it’s smooth. If you don’t have a rag, use you can use a cotton ball. Dip the cotton ball or your finger into a container of room temperature water so the cotton/rag is wet but not dripping or soaked. Alternatively, dip it in rubbing alcohol or ice-cold water.

Place the wet cotton or cloth against the dried polish on your boots and rub the leather. Move your finger in small circular motions with a light touch until a shine is achieved. Repeat this process until you reach the level of shine that you want.

Whether you use cotton diapers, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, or cold water, dedication, patience, and a light touch will be effective in achieving a mirror shine on your new duty boots.

Water protection for boots

Water protection for boots

Water Protection

As with any other type of shoe, a new pair of duty boots will require protection from the elements. While you want to give your shoes a mirror shine that meets inspection standards, you’ll also want to consider waterproofing your new duty boots, especially if you live in a region with adverse seasonal weather. Wet feet caused by wet boots will spark many problems with your feet and affect your mobility while at work.

Unless you take the proper measures, water can and definitely will wreak havoc on your new boots. Leather uppers that should last for years can severely deteriorate with water exposure, which will shorten your new boot’s lifespan.  Leather comes from animal skin, specifically cattle and horses, which means it contains proteins and fat.

Leather is made by weaving fibers across one another. These properties are the reason why leather can retain a set amount of moisture after being tanned. When leather is exposed to water, the water creates bonds with the lubricating oil and eventually causes fibers to float away, making the leather stiff and cracked. Reducing the release of moisture, including exposure to acids and alkaline, will go a long way in reducing leather damage and extending the life of your duty boots.

Waterproofing leather is not complicated and simply means creating a barrier that water cannot penetrate – from either direction. As this is not practical, protection from water damage is best referred to as “water-resistant.”

An excellent way to make your new boots water-resistant is to use silicone spray. However, be careful not to overuse silicone since it can speed up moisture release in leather, making it brittle and causing cracks. Choosing a silicone spray that is oil-based is best for duty boots that may be exposed to harsh weather elements as they don’t have a drying effect.

When you use acrylic copolymer spray, it forms a microscopic surface that is resistant to the penetration of water molecules. It creates a thin and flexible coating that protects the leather fibers from water and allows the leather to breathe.

With a bit of attention, patience, and extra care, the maintenance of your new leather duty boots will keep your feet safe and comfortable and protect your investment for a very long time.



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Franck Wang
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