Having the right equipment is great, but taking care of it is just as important to make sure that it works properly for as long as possible.
If you’re wondering if you can throw your steel toe boots in the dryer, taking care of your gear is probably a primary concern of yours.
It’s very easy to neglect maintenance and then blame the manufacturer for substandard workmanship.
Whether we want to accept responsibility or not, maintaining gear is our responsibility as workers.
This is a very obvious truth with things like cars, instruments, and homes, but many of us forget about upkeep when it comes to the possessions that we wear.
So you’ve probably gone as far as washing, or deciding to wash your steel toe boots, but aren’t sure how to go about drying them.
Let’s look at a couple don’ts and then the many do’s when it comes to drying your steel toe boots.
Avoid the Dryer, or Any Dryer!
Steel toe boots do not fare well in the dryer, and this should be avoided at all costs. The excess artificial heat created by your dryer will result in the leather on your boots becoming dehydrated, cracking and/or shrinking.
Speeding up the drying process with hot air is a big no-no when it comes to leather boots, or any leather for that matter.
The natural fibers of the leather have to gradually dry out so they are able to return to their prior shape.
Some of you might be thinking right now “Well, my boots aren’t made of leather, am I okay to throw my boots in the boot dryer?”
OR, “I can just use the no heat setting then, right?”
Excellent questions, the answer is a loud NO to both.
Besides the potential damage to your boots, there is the absolutely guaranteed damage to your dryer from the steel toe slamming into it for 45 minutes…or however long your dryer will be running for!
Manufacturers such as Keen also recommend that you use cold water, mild soap and let air do the work (without any heat).
Steel toes and dryer drums don’t get along well together and there’s no setting you can choose that will prevent this from happening.
This is also true for a washing machine so don’t go there either.
Even if you think it’s safe to downsize to a hair/blow dryer or (God forbid) a heat gun, it absolutely isn’t.
Both these tools are too hot and even if you think you can use them properly and keep your boots safe, you can’t.
It’s a good rule of thumb that you should never use an artificial heat source to dry work boots.
The chances of things going wrong are way too high, especially when there are easier, entirely safe ways to do the same job.
So what are those ways, anyway?
Safe Ways to Dry Steel Toe Boots
Don’t worry, there are a number of ways to effectively dry your safety boots so they’ll be fresh and dry before they need to be used next.
The Natural Wonders of Sunlight
Good old fashioned heat from the sun is an excellent way to dry your wet work boots.
This will take a number of hours, and you will likely have to rotate or reposition the boot so all sides get exposed to sunlight.
Remember! You’re not trying to roast the boot, you’re just trying to dry it.
Don’t plan on leaving your boot in the sun for an entire day without supervision.
- No supplies need to be purchased
- No “considerable ” effort is required
- Can be done outside
- Requires repositioning and proper weather
- Not as thorough as you might like
- Takes a long time
Use a Fan
Who can forget the box fans unceremoniously thrown in the windows on summer nights dad said “weren’t hot enough for the AC.”
They’re now another tool to help dry your boots (in addition to nights where your family thinks the AC should go on but it’s clearly not hot enough).
You could do this together with or independent of sunlight. The two work together well and can get your boots dried in no time at all.
There are a number of ways you could rig the shoes to be attached to the fan.
If you have that in mind, go for it.
All it takes is some wire through the lace holes and attach it (safely) to the grill of the fan.
If you’re going to do this, make sure that it’s a well balanced fan and the added weight of your boots don’t knock it over once it develops some momentum.
- Thorough drying
- Need a fan
- Requires setup inside
- Quite tedious and a bit tricky to get right
Newspaper can be balled up and lightly packed inside your boots to help absorb the stubborn moisture hanging on in between threads and fibers.
I say newspaper, but it could be paper towels, or any light, porous paper that’ll suck moisture out.
- Helps the fan method
- Thoroughly dries inside
- Need newspaper / paper towels
- Will require changing of paper towels every few hours
You can stuff your boot with a dry towel and wrap the excess towel around the boot.
This gives the moisture somewhere to jump to when drying.
You should do this in addition to a fan, and you’ll likely have to change the towel several times.
Out of all the methods discussed, this is my least favorite.
- Prevents water from getting everywhere while boot is drying
- Faster than doing nothing
- You need several large towels
- Requires constant attention
- Prevents sunlight or fans from being used
Just like I imagine every American has done at one point with a wet cellphone, you can dry your boots with the help of some rice.
This is inadvisable when the boots are still very wet, but works very effectively as a means to remove the final remaining moisture in your boots after washing them.
If you really want them dry, use some rice.
Boots are much larger than a phone though, and the amount of rice necessary to completely cover them would be substantial.
With that in mind, save time and rice by just pouring some rice inside the boots.
One to Two cups of rice per boot, depending on the size of your boot, should be plenty.
Cover the throat of the boot, wrap it in saran wrap or throw it in a plastic bag itself, and let the rice work its magic overnight.
I didn’t specify but I will now, the footbeds/insoles should be removed from the boot before putting rice in it.
This isn’t a method so much as a second step if some of you want to take it.
You can’t get done washing your boots, dump a bag of rice in them and call it a day.
- Gets boots the most dry
- You need rice
- If you do this regularly then the cost can add up.
- Dealing with cleanup
No Matter The Method…
Whatever method you use, be patient.
Not trying to hurry the drying process is the best choice you can make.
It’s only when you get rushed do you make choices that end up damaging or ruining your safety footwear .
To make sure you’re not rushed, pick the proper time to wash and dry your boots.
Give yourself enough time.
Starting to wash your boots at the wrong time is usually worse than choosing not to wash them at all.
If you’re a person that works a regular Monday to Friday work schedule, Friday evening or Saturday morning is an excellent time to start this project.
Plan it, do it, and enjoy your next Monday with perfectly clean and dry work boots.
The last think you need are damp boots so you should also consider buying a spare pair so you can alternate between them.You might also be interested in learning how to clean your work boots.