5 Steps To Looking After Your Dr Martens Leather Boots & Shoes

Everybody knows Dr Martens are made to extremely high standards of durability, right? What you might not know is that the correct way to look after them, and that doing so can considerably extend their lifespan.

So we thought we’d share a few tips on how to properly care for your Dr Martens, so that you too can carry on enjoying yours for many more years to come.

Before we start, here is what you need:

  • two soft bristle polish brushes
  • a lint free cloth for polishing and buffing
  • an old toothbrush (thoroughly rinsed free of tooth paste)
  • a bowl of warm water and a cloth or sponge for cleaning with
  • some Dr Martens Wonder Balsam or equivalent leather conditioner or coloured polish to match your boots.

Specialized footwear cleaning brushes can also be purchased from most shoes shops. The original Dr Martens Wonder Balsam, along with Dubbin and Polishes are available from the Scorpio Shoes online store.

Before you begin cleaning and polishing, you may want to use some old newspaper or unwanted clothes/towels to prevent damaging surfaces with polish etc.

  1. Unlace your footwear, taking note of how they were laced to start with. This may be a good time to inspect the laces to see if they are beginning to fray, get damaged, or otherwise need replacing. Replacement laces are readily available in a huge range of colours and patterns, a selection of which are available on the Scorpio Shoes Online Store. New laces can breathe life and vibrancy back into old boots, giving them a fresh, rejuvenated look. You may want to check the length of the original laces to be sure of getting the correct length replacement laces.
  2. Use the sponge or cloth with clean warm water, begin to clean the surface of the leather, ensuring any mud and grime is removed. Pay particular attention to stitched seams and creases, as any microscopic particles getting into the stitches or burrowing into the creases of the leather can cause wear and dramatically shorten the lifespan of the footwear. If you find there is dried mud between layers of leather that are stitched together, such as the heel cup or as the bottom of the leather panel that holds the eyelets, then this is where the old toothbrush or cleaning brush can be used. A little warm water on the bristles will soften the mud. Try not to brush the edge of the leather, but rather direct and press the edge of the brush into the mud to loosen and remove it. Once done, clean up again with the sponge or cloth. Dry the surface leather.
  3. Select one polish brush to apply the selected aftercare product to the leather, and keep the other polish brush for buffing it up afterwards. Using the edge of the brush, scoop a thumbnail sized blob of balsam/polish/dubbin onto the bristles. Place your free hand deep into the boot or shoe to manipulate it while you use the brush to rub the balsam/polish/dubbin into the leather. Start at the toes, rubbing in circles, working your way down each side and over the top of the toe box. Pay particular attention to the ever present creases over the toe box, as these areas experience a lot of bending and movement and require more conditioning to remain supple. You may also find creases on the higher styles of boot as you work up the ankle area. Once the boot has been thoroughly rubbed all over with balsam/polish/dubbin, place it down somewhere where it won’t be knocked over (by pets or children or clumsy other halves) and repeat the process with the other boot or shoe.
  4. When the both boots or shoes have had their first coat applied, pick up the first boot or shoe you treated, again by shoving your hand inside, and with your free hand pick up your buffing polish brush. Starting at the toes, quickly sweep the tips of the bristles over the surface of the leather with swooshing left to right movements. Don’t press hard into the leather and scrub. We don’t want to damage the surface, but bring out a shiny surface sheen. Continue to treat both boots in this way, buffing up the surfaces with quick sweeping movements. You’ll notice a shine coming through which gets shinier the more you buff.
  5. Depending on the level of shine you want, you can repeat steps 3 to 4 to bring out more of a high gloss shine. A glossy shine will actually repel water and mud more effectively, and because a glossy shine means the leather has been more thoroughly treated and conditioned to get it that way, glossy boots should, in theory, last longer. When you are happy with the result you are getting, you can now use the lint free cloth, with sweeping motions again, to remove any surface dubbin or polish (which at this point should come off the leather onto the cloth almost like a fine powder) and apply a polished sheen finish. You can now lace your boots back up, slip them on and off you go!

We hope you find this guide useful and if you do, why not share it with your friends using the tools below?

1 Comment

  • dEwMe

    I kept breaking laces until it dawned on me to replace them with parachute cord. Haven’t used anything else in my docs since! First thing I do with a new pair is toss the laces that come with them. It works great and you can get quite a variety of colors these days.