5 Tips to Make Your Dr. Marten’s Shoes Last Decades
If you’ve bought a pair of Docs or are thinking of buying a pair, you’ve likely heard from a friend, colleague, or well-meaning shop assistant that they can last decades. But with recent downpours and flooding across Australia helping you find the holes in your favourite boots you didn’t know were there, might make you sceptical about that. Whilst we definitely don’t recommend trudging through flood waters in your shiny new Docs, here are 5 tips for taking care of these most beloved shoes and protecting them from the elements for everyday wear.
1) Material is Key
From their signature Smooth Leather to Crazy Horse, Suede and Vegan Gloss materials, each Dr. Marten’s leather type needs slightly different types of care. The first step to caring for your shiny new pair of Docs or slightly creased favourite, is to identify which material they are made from. For smooth and nappa materials, a damp cloth and wax polish is recommended whilst wax polish should not be used on suede. When cleaning vegan leathers, a simple wet wipe or cloth and soapy water can be used. We will detail further below the best way to care for each material.
2) Start Simple
If you’ve only just bought your first pair of Docs and don’t know the difference between a wax polish or weather protector, the whole concept of shoe care can be pretty daunting. Which polish should I use? Can I clean my leather shoes with water and soap? What is a weather protector anyway? If you’ve never spent much time on shoe care before, it’s best to start simple. The first and foremost step is to store your shoes in a cool, dry place and preferably in a way they won’t be scratched or scuffed by using a shoe rack or shelving. If you’re travelling or don’t have the luxury of space, we recommend wrapping each shoe in tissue paper or using shoe sleeves.
Next, it is important to know what you can use to wipe dirt off your Docs. For smooth, nappa and crazy horse leathers, we recommend a damp cloth. For vegan leathers, wet wipes or a damp cloth can be used. When cleaning suede, it is best to use a suede brush or toothbrush to brush off any dry dirt; a damp cloth can be used for cleaning off mud ensuring that the material doesn’t get too wet and is left to airdry afterwards. For all Docs, make sure to remove the laces and clean them separately. When it comes to cleaning the outsole of your Docs, most normal cleaning methods from a damp cloth to paper towel or wet wipes and banging the bottoms of your shoes together will be fine. Be careful to avoid using detergents on leather as this may cause discoloration. Once you’ve cleaned any dirt off, make sure to dry with a different cloth, it is very important not to dampen the material too much when cleaning or leave your shoes wet.
3) Wonder Balsam and Polish; What’s the Difference?
After cleaning your Docs, the next step is to ensure the leather is nourished, conditioned and polished. What if your Docs are made of a distressed leather like crazy horse or bright green leather you ask? This is where the difference between Wonder Balsam and Polish come in. Both Wonder Balsam and Polish can be used to condition and protect leather from stains and water. But Dr. Marten’s Wonder Balsam can be used on coloured leather and distressed leathers, unlike their Black Polish. It should be noted that the balsam will darken a crazy horse leather and give distressed leather a more sheen finish. Dr. Marten’s Black Polish, on the other hand, should be used to condition, protect, and additionally polish black smooth and black nappa leather. It should be noted that you shouldn’t use balsam or polish with suede. For cleaning and nurturing suede, we recommend Dr. Marten’s Suede Cleaner.
Whether you use the balsam or the polish, it is best to apply a thin layer over the surface of the material, focusing on any scuff marks and scratches and then wipe away any excess. If your Docs are particularly scuffed or in need of extra conditioning, more than one coat can be applied, so long as the first coat of the balsam or polish is left to dry before the second coat is added. If you’re using polish for your smooth or nappa leather, make sure to buff up your Docs with Dr. Marten’s signature Bristle Brush for an extra shine.
For an all-in-one kit for all leather types we recommend Dr. Marten’s Shoecare Kit with Wonder Balsam, Buffing Cloth and Ultra-Protector. If you’re looking for a shinier finish for your smooth leather Docs we’d recommend Dr. Marten’s Black Polish and the Premium Shoecare Box which includes Wonder Balsam, Ultra Protector, Shoe Freshener and a Buffing Brush.
4) Marten’s Ultra-Protector – It’s in the Name
As a final touch, spraying on Dr. Marten’s Ultra-Protector will create a barrier to protect your shoes against stains and sun damage. This Ultra-Protector can be used on almost all Dr. Marten’s materials in all colours including all leathers, suede nubuck, nylon or canvas. The Ultra-Protector is included in the Dr. Marten’s Premium Shoecare Box and the Dr. Marten’s Shoecare Kit (No Colour).
5) Laces and Long Term Care
Whilst your Docs should last years with the proper care, your laces will wear away overtime and need to be replaced. Dr. Marten’s laces come in many shapes and sizes, click here to browse our range of Dr. Marten’s laces.
Finally, a bonus tip for keeping your Dr. Marten’s 1461s and 1460s in good shape… wear them! Dr. Marten’s shoes, like all shoes, do weaken over time if they are not worn often enough. So make sure to get the most out of your Dr. Martens by cleaning and wearing them often.