What To Do With Old Work Boots: 5 Alternatives to The Garbage Can

If you’re wondering what to do with your old work boots, you’re in the right place.

Whether they served you wonderfully or it’s a “good riddance!” type of moment, the time has come to say goodbye to your boots.

With over 20 billion pairs of footwear manufactured annually, what you do with your boots affects the environment.

Today I’m going to discuss various options other than the trash can for your old boots.

Give Your Boots A New Life: Resoling Work Boots

If your boots were made through Blake Stitch, Goodyear Welt or Storm Welt construction methods, they can be resoled by a cobbler to give them years of further usage.

This process may cost anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on the construction style and the skill of the cobbler you choose. 

It may seem like a lot, but if you’re going to get several more years of use out of the boots, it’s a worthwhile investment compared to buying a new pair.

In addition to the money you could save, resoling has the added benefit of not having to break in a new pair of boots

It has the potential to save you weeks or months of discomfort on the job that a new pair may cause your feet.

If you’re dealing with boots made through cement, direct-attach, or injection molded construction methods, resoling your boots isn’t an option. 

For everyone in that situation, keep reading, I have plenty more options for you to review.

In the world of boots, these styles are considered disposable and the juice isn’t worth the squeeze when it comes to resoling. 

The cost would be greater than the value you would get in return, and they’d fail to perform like a new pair of boots

Get Creative! Ideas For Your Old Boots 

You can turn your old boots into a variety of household items that will extend their lifespan by many years. 

There’s no wrong answer as to what you can do with them.

However.

Below are a couple of ideas that I have or have seen.

Work Boot Flower Planter

Transform the old and ugly into something beautiful by allowing your boots to serve you as a flower planter. 

Simply fill them puppies up with soil and plant your favorite flowers or vegetables inside the throat of the boot.

You can set the boot down on a surface and let it rest there, or even get more creative.

Since you have two boots with laces.

You could create a hanging boot garden from the branches of a tree or railings of your porch.

The only limitation with this idea is your imagination, sorry to be corny but it’s a factual statement in this instance 

Even as I’m writing this I’m imagining planting my hanging succulents or orchids in my old boots. 

I’m in my 30’s, so I’ve reached the point where I think gardening is the coolest hobby.

I now understand why my father has more square footage of garden than floor space in his home.

It all makes sense now.

Contractor Hack: Turn Old Boots Into A Tool

Contractors and carpenters can make use of their old boots by turning them into a brace to help them cut long lumber and other lengthy materials. 

Anyone in the trades already knows, sometimes you have to make a cut by yourself and the piece you’re cutting won’t stay in the position you need.

You can turn your old boots into a tool to help you complete the task without growing a second pair of hands.

If the boots weigh enough, you can position a pipe, piece of lumber, or any other material in between them so it doesn’t shift while you’re hitting it with a chop or circular saw.

To do this you’ll need to get some concrete or cement, mix it up, and pour it into the throat of the boot until the boot is almost full.

Aim for two inches from the top of the throat to avoid spillage and the cleanup that would require.

How about your Old work boots as a Doorstop?

The easiest way you can repurpose your old boots is to use them as a doorstop.

This can be done by filling them with any material heavy enough to stop a door from swinging.

You could use cement, like in the last suggestion, but gravel will do just fine and require less effort.

Arm Guards

You can cut the throat off the boot and turn these into guards for your forearms to protect against heat or scratches.

This is great for anyone doing demolition, HVAC work, or any sort of work where you’ll be pressing against unpleasant materials.

It’s also great for people like my wife who do archery as a hobby.

The video below shows how you can make a cool pair of arm guards at the same time as you limit the amount of waste you’re creating.

You’ll still be left with the outsoles, but those can be recycled at most municipal or city recycling centers.

If where you live doesn’t provide this, there’s probably a tire shop that will accept the rubber and send it to get recycled.

Keep them as Garden and Grime Boots

Don’t toss or recycle them, re-designate your old boots!

There’s always going to be some flood, mud, or other nastiness that you’d rather avoid, but have to work in.

Maybe that delayed landscaping project or outdoor home improvement idea you had?

It’s an excellent idea to have a pair of boots laying around that you won’t worry about ruining.

It can be a bummer the moment you have to ruin the look of your new boots. 

If you toss your old pair in the closet for these moments, your new pair will stay fresher, potentially lasting longer.

Its also good to have a spare pair, just in case something happens to your original pair.

Sell Them

Used boots are bought and sold online regularly.

Regardless of their condition there’s going to be someone out there that wants them for a good deal.

Just because you don’t see the value in them doesn’t mean they’re without value.

Keep in mind, the condition of the boots is a big factor but even well worn footwear can have value to the right customer.

You wouldn’t throw $20 or more in the trash (at least, I wouldn’t), so there might be an opportunity to earn some cash from your old boots. 

I don’t want to get you excited thinking you’re going to make a lot of money, but something is better than nothing.

It doesn’t matter if they’re work boots, tactical boots, or hiking boots, there’s probably a market for what you’ve got. 

I always view value in this way: if you want them at some point, someone else will want them too.

Websites where you can sell your boots

  • ETSY
  • Swap
  • Ebay
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • Local online market places

Donate Them

Homeless shelters, thrift stores, religious organizations, or other non-profits in your area likely accept donations for used boots. 

Start making calls and the chances are, you’ll be told “yes, bring them by” on the very first call.

While they might seem worn out to you, there are people in your community who would be very happy to receive your old boots.

If you’re fortunate enough to consider what to do with your old boots, it’s easy to forget that some people would be happy to have a pair of boots at all.

Even if your boots are totally shot and you’re certain no one wants them, there are places you can take them so they’re recycled into new materials.

I mentioned tire shops and city recycling centers before, but there are also programs run by shoe manufacturers to recycle shoes.

Timberland and Nike each have their own recycling program.

Check those links or do a quick Google search for your preferred work boot brand to see if they have a program to accept old shoes. 

How to Prep Your Boots For Sale

Be a good guy and get them cleaned up first though!

If you’re not sure how to do that, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about cleaning boots.

Once you’re done with that, you can dry them in a number of ways, just not in the dryer.

If you don’t have the time to wash and dry your boots before donating, a quick way to get the odor out is by using baking soda.

Simply remove the footbeds, fill the boot with baking soda and shake back and forth so it’s evenly distributed across the insole.

In the morning, dump out the baking soda and you should have a boot that smells way better than the night prior.The footbeds can be aired out naturally or with a fan and either will improve their odor. 

Waste Not Want Not: Recycle and Reuse Old Boots

As you can see, there’s lots of fun options for what to do with your old boots.

It doesn’t matter how old or beat up they are.

There’s always something that can be done with your boots that helps you, someone else, or the environment as a whole.

So what will YOU do with your old work boots?