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Red Wing
Care Guide

Red Wing have been making shoes and boots in Minnesota, USA for well over 100 years. The company has a rich history and is known for producing some of the highest quality footwear around. Red Wing says that it takes more than 230 steps to build each pair of it’s famous boots, and when you invest in a pair you’ll certainly be able to feel the care and expertise that has gone into making them.

With premium leathers, high quality components and triple stitching for durability, Red Wing boots and shoes are designed to last a lifetime. And as with any investment in something of high quality, it’s worth understanding how to clean and care for them properly so that you can give your Red Wings the attention they deserve, to keep them looking and performing their best.

Red Wing boots are certainly not high maintenance, and even if not looked after will still provide many years of service. However, continuous wear and the effect of the elements can take their toll on even the toughest of boots over time. So if you want to keep your Red Wings in the best condition possible, read on to learn more about the simple ways to look after them.

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How To Clean Red Wing Boots

While Red Wing boots might be some of the toughest around, a little care and attention goes a long way to helping them stay looking great and stay on your feet for many years. It’s understandable that people love wearing their Red Wings a lot - and because of this they can get dirty and require cleaning.

Cleaning Red Wing boots is actually fairly simple, and is something that every wearer should do from time to time. But before you go ahead and start scrubbing, it’s important to understand how best to care for your boots so that you can clean them in the correct way.

The best way to clean Red Wings depends on the material that they are made from, and also what you want to get out of caring for your boots. If you’re looking to make your boots as durable and weather resistant as possible, then you might want to take a slightly different approach than if you’re aiming to condition your boots and enable the leather to develop a deep patina over time.

Regardless of what you want to achieve, the basic principles of caring for Red Wings involve removing dirt, conditioning and protecting the leather. So let’s take a closer look at the steps to take.

How To Clean Oil Tanned Leather Red Wing Boots

Red Wing’s famous oil tanned leather is one of the most popular materials that the company uses for its boots. This leather has water and stain resistance right out of the box. Nonetheless, it still pays to give your oil tanned leather Red Wings a good clean from time to time.

Step 1
Start by removing the laces and setting to one side. Mix some foam leather cleaner in warm water until it begins to lather. Then using a sponge, cloth or brush give the boots a good clean all over the external surface using the foam solution. Once you’re done, leave to dry.

Step 2
Once your boots are clean and dry, it’s time to condition. This helps to keep the leather supple and healthy. Using either Leather Conditioner, Boot Oil or Mink Oil, work into the surface of the boot using a cloth or your fingertips.

Step 3
Now your boots are cleaned and conditioned, apply a gentle misting of Leather Protector to the surface. This creates a final barrier to protect your boots from the elements and makes cleaning easier next time you follow these steps.

How To Clean Smooth Finished Leather Red Wing Boots

The smooth finished leather from Red Wing is used to provide a beautiful and sophisticated look for the brand’s premium Heritage boots, and is perfect for anyone who likes a polished finish. Keeping the leather clean and protected helps to ensure it can stay looking great for many years.

Step 1
After you’ve removed the laces, use a soft brush and a small amount of warm water to remove any dirt that’s stuck to the leather. Once you have removed any larger pieces of dirt, give the boots a good wipe over with a soft cloth to pick up any smaller particles of dirt and dust from the surface.

Step 2
Once the surface of your smooth leather boots is clean, the next step is to correct any scuffs and to condition the leather. Apply the appropriate colour of Boot Cream to scuffs or scratches and then using a soft cloth, rub Leather Cream or a non-coloured Boot Cream into the entire surface of the boot.

Step 3
As with oil tanned leather, once you have cleaned and conditioned your boots, the final stage is to apply a light misting of Leather Protector to the surface. This won’t darken or change the colour of the leather, but provides an extra layer of protection against dirt and moisture.

How To Clean Nubuck Leather Red Wing Boots

Red Wing’s high quality nubuck leather is a great alternative choice to other leathers, and perfect for a casual look. It’s made using the reverse side of the hide and so retains all the standard Red Wing durability, however due to its soft and textured surface requires a slightly different approach to cleaning.

Step 1
Remove the laces from the boots and then clean using the Red Wing rubber cleaning bar which you can either purchase on its own or as part of the Roughout/Nubuck Cleaning Kit. This is specifically designed to lift marks and stains from the surface. For any tough stains, run the bar under a tap and rub over. Once marks and dirt have been removed, and the boots are dry, use the brush from your kit to bring the surface to a consistent texture.

Step 2
If your boots are made from Red Wing’s Muleskinner leather, this is the time to apply a light coating of Mink Oil. Gently rub into the surface using your fingers or a cloth. For other nubucks, conditioning is not required.

Step 3
Now that your boots are clean, and conditioned if necessary, spray a fine layer of Red Wing Leather Protector over the surface. This will provide an additional invisible barrier to protect against dirt and water, helping your nubuck boots to stay looking cleaner for longer.

Red Wing Care Products & Accessories

Red Wing has developed a range of high quality products that are specifically designed to clean, care for and protect Red Wing shoes and boots. The range of Red Wing cleaning and protection products provides everything you need to take the best care of your Red Wings, from removing dirt and stains to conditioning the leather so that it can remain supple, waterproof and protected.

Red Wing Leather Care Kits
The Red Wing leather care and cleaner kits include everything you need to look after your boots in one handy package. Simply select the option designed for the type of leather your boots are made from.

Red Wing Leather Cleaning & Protection
Cleaning and protecting your Red Wing boots or shoes are important steps in maintaining them Red Wing offers specifically developed products to remove dirt and stains without damaging the leather and protect the surface from water and dirt once clean.

Red Wing Leather Oil, Cream & Conditioner
Red Wing’s range of oils, creams and conditioners are created from high quality ingredients that allow you to maintain and protect your boots in the best way. These help to keep the leather moisturised and supple, while forming barriers against the elements.

Red Wing Laces & Insoles
As well as cleaning, conditioning and protecting your Red Wings, you can also find accessories such as replacement Red Wing laces and insoles. These allow you to replace parts that become worn or damaged over time with the same original quality as when your boots were new, or customise or update your footwear to your own preferred specification.

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Mink Oil vs Leather Conditioner vs Boot Cream

Red Wing’s famous oil tanned leather is one of the most popular materials that the company uses for its boots. This leather has water and stain resistance right out of the box. Nonetheless, it still pays to give your oil tanned leather Red Wings a good clean from time to time.

Red Wing Mink Oil
Mink Oil is made from the fat from mink pelts, a by-product of the mink fur industry. Red Wing Mink Oil also contains lanolin and silicone. This product will penetrate deeply into the pores of the leather and will remain on the boots for quite a long time. It’s designed to keep the leather supple and protected, and will provide enhanced waterproofing. However, Mink Oil will darken the colour of the leather. Over time, the colour will lighten up again, but it’s something to be aware of if you are thinking about using Red Wing Mink Oil.

Red Wing Leather Conditioner
Another choice when it comes to looking after your boots is Red Wing All Natural Leather Conditioner. This product is a more solid version of the brand’s Boot Oil, and comes in a paste like texture similar to Mink Oil. It’s created from natural ingredients and also includes mink oil, along with pine pitch oil and beeswax, however it does not contain any silicone. Pine Pitch oil is made from the sap of pine trees and is another ingredient that helps to protect and waterproof the leather. Red Wing’s leather conditioner has a similar effect to its Mink Oil in that it protects and waterproofs the boots, however will darken the leather by a few shades.

Red Wing Leather Cream
Red Wing Leather Cream is perhaps a gentler way to protect and nourish your boots. It’s made with neatsfoot oil, which is produced from rendered cattle bones, and will help to condition the leather. However, Leather Cream doesn’t darken the leather in the same way that Mink Oil or Leather Conditioner does, so it can be a good choice if you want to preserve the original look of your boots. This product is more focused on moisturising and enhancing the leather, so it’s not the best choice if you want ultimate water resistance, however it will help to keep the leather supple and long lasting.

Developing Patina & Maintaining Colour

For some wearers, part of the appeal of buying a pair of Red Wing boots or shoes is achieving an individual and unique patina developed over time. Through continued wear, the leather will develop details all of its own which result in a beautiful aged look that is unique to the wearer. This is particularly applicable to Red Wing’s Heritage boots, which over months and years will develop a rich patina that a lot of wearers enjoy.

If developing patina on your Red Wings is something you want to achieve, Leather Cream is perhaps the best option for caring for your boots. It nourishes and protects the leather, but won’t alter the colour like some of the other oils and conditioners, which enables a patina to fully develop.

Waterproofing & Darkening

If your priorities when it comes to caring for your boots are more geared to waterproofing and ultimate protection from the elements, Mink Oil and Leather Conditioner (or the liquid version, Boot Oil) are the products to go for.

These penetrate deep into the leather and seal the pores to form a waterproof barrier. It’s for this reason that these types of products are often used by military personnel and others who want to achieve maximum protection for their footwear in all conditions. The use of Mink Oil and Leather Conditioner will mean that the colour of the leather will darken by a few shades, and you might not see as rich a patina developing as you would with gentler treatments.

Repairing Red Wing Boots

Red Wing shoes and boots are high quality products that are designed to offer a lifetime of use, if cared for properly. Of course, regular wear means that eventually some parts of the boots may become worn and need to be refurbished and replaced.

Red Wing offers its own repair service, where customers can send their boots back to the factory in the US to be repaired or have parts replaced by Red Wing’s skilled in-house team. This means that boots and shoes can be brought back to life using the same high quality methods that were used to create them in the first place.

In the UK, you might opt to get your Red Wing boots repaired by a local professional. Red Wing offers a repair service, using skilled cobblers officially accredited by Red Wing. This means the same level of attention to detail is given to repairs as if the boots were being cared for by the original factory, using genuine Red Wing parts and techniques.

However you get your Red Wings repaired, it’s important to choose an experienced professional who will give your boots the attention they need. Red Wing boots are an investment, and the great thing is that when the time comes they can be repaired so that you can keep wearing them for many more years.

Rotate Your Red Wings

For many wearers, once they have bought their first pair of Red Wings, the quality of the shoes and boots becomes apparent and they find themselves adding second and third pairs to their collection. While the investment is not insignificant, owning multiple pairs of Red Wings means that they can be rotated. The result is that no one pair is worn every single day. This gives the boots time to recover and dry between wearing, and means that parts such as the soles will wear at a much slower rate. If you’re a fan of Red Wing, this can be a great way to significantly extend the life of your boots.

Caring For Red Wing Boots: FAQ

Once you know how to care for your Red Wing boots and shoes, keeping them in top condition is a reasonably simple process. As well as cleaning and protecting, there are a few common questions that people have about caring for their Red Wings.

Can I get Red Wing boots resoled?
Yes most Red Wing boots can be resoled. This can be done either by sending them back to the Red Wing factory, or by taking them to a local cobbler. It’s often a good idea to look for someone who specialises in repairing Red Wings using genuine Red Wing parts. This means that your boots will come back with soles as good as new, ready to give you many more years of service.

How often should I oil Red Wing boots?
Once you know how to care for your Red Wing boots and shoes, keeping them in top condition is a reasonably simple process. As well as cleaning and protecting, there are a few common questions that people have about caring for their Red Wings.

Should I oil brand new Red Wing boots?
It’s not necessary to oil Red Wing boots right out of the box. The boots or shoes will be good to go from the factory, and it’s recommended to wear them for a few months before you first oil them. You can apply a coating of Leather Protector to new boots which will help to keep the surface clean and more water resistant without altering the colour.

How do I clean the soles of Red Wing Boots?
The soles are one area that can become dirty more quickly than the rest of the boot or shoe, simply because it’s the part that’s always in contact with the ground. Red Wings have durable soles, and these can be cleaned as often as is necessary. Simply remove any pieces of mud or dirt with a stiff brush, and use a damp cloth to clean off any remaining dirt as required. Take care to avoid getting the leather wet if you can, but if you do then leave the boots to dry after cleaning.

Can I wear Red Wing boots in the rain?
Of course. Models made from oil tanned leather are particularly recommended as this leather is naturally water resistant. If you want to improve the water resistance of your boots then products such as Mink Oil are a good choice. These help to close the pores in the leather so that water can’t get through, and provide extra protection from marks.

Can I wear Red Wing boots in winter?
Red Wing boots are a good choice for winter and can help to keep your feet dry and comfortable. However there’s often a lot of salt, dirt and moisture around during the winter months which can affect leather, so it’s wise to follow care steps to prepare them for the season, and again to clean and condition them once winter has passed to get them looking great for spring.

Do Red Wing boots require breaking in?
Red Wing makes some of the most comfortable boots around, and they only get more comfortable the more they are worn. As with all high quality leather footwear, some people find they are incredibly comfortable right out of the box, while for others there might be a short break in period required to help them mold to the shape of your foot. It really depends on how they feel, and what type of feet you have.

How do I break in new Red Wing boots?
The best way to break in a new pair of Red Wings is by wearing them. You might want to start off by wearing them for shorter periods and building up to all day wear over a period of a couple of weeks. If your new boots start to feel uncomfortable, stop wearing them and try again the next day. But don’t worry, the break in process is different for everyone and you’ll soon be able to wear your boots all day long in complete comfort.

How long do Red Wing boots last?
When taken care of properly, Red Wing boots can last a lifetime. The main things to focus on are making sure the leather is cleaned and conditioned from time to time, and that soles are replaced when they eventually wear out (although they will last for many years and many miles). If you’re incredibly tough on your boots and don’t look after them properly then you should still get a good few years of service out of them, but even the most neglected pairs can often be restored with the right care and attention.

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