When I was a lad, which is not as long ago as my kids like to make out, 'dubbining' your football boots was a ritual. We didn't go to church, but by God did those boots have to be encased in waxy grease every Sunday?!

Nowadays, dubbin seems to be a bit out of favour. I'm not sure if this is down to people having busier lifestyles, the use of synthetic shoe materials, or simply the fact that we see just about everything as disposable these days. Maybe I'm just 'different'.

I'll let you into a little secret at this point; my most commonly worn outdoor footwear is a pair of steel-toecapped work boots that I bought from eBay for the princely sum of £8.50. Okay, I actually bought ten pairs for £85.00, but nine months down the line, I'm only on the second pair. Even good old dubbin wouldn't have saved the first pair – I wore them when laying a concrete workshop base and they now weigh a bit more than they originally did!

DubbinSo, What Is Dubbin?
Dubbin is like shoe polish in appearance, and usually comes in a similar tin, but is actually a product that softens and waterproofs leather. Originally, it was a mixture of wax, oil and tallow (rendered animal fat!). I've no idea what modern day actually consists of, but would suspect that it's similar to the original idea.

What Do You Do With It?

Simple; apply it to your boot, rub it in and let the leather soak it up. There is really nothing more to it. I use an old cloth to do this, but some people even do it with their bare hands. Apparently, it's not bad for the skin, but I'd rather stick to conventional hand creams, thanks!

The only thing to remember is to not leave lumps of dubbin in the creases. It is said that this can cause dust to collect and rot the stitching, just the same as if you left lumps of polish or anything else on them.

How Often Do You Dubbin Your Leather Boots?
This will depend how often you wear them and in what conditions, but to give you an idea, my boots are worn every day throughout the winter (I own a dog that insists on dragging me around fields, whatever the weather, for at least an hour a day!) and I give them a weekly dose of dubbin. By doing so, they last me well, are waterproof and supple. Not bad, when considering how cheap the boots were!

Where Do You Buy Dubbin?
It is possible that your supermarket will sell dubbin. Ours used to, but doesn't these days, so my wife tends to buy a few whenever she finds somewhere still selling it! Her latest source is one of those cheap hardware shops that seem to come and go on every High Street, where she pays the princely sum of 99p per tin, as you can see in the photograph here (and a tin goes a long way!). I have tried some specialist cobblers, but they seem to charge the earth.

Online, a few retailers sell it, such as Mean And Green – CLICK HERE. Alternatively, CLICK HERE to see other retailers. Another possibility is eBay, where I seem to find myself shopping more often than not these days. CLICK HERE for their latest offers. At the time of writing, I was taken right back to my childhood, as eBay had the original 'Cherry' brand dubbin that we used to use as kids listed at just £1.90, including delivery. In fact, I may have to invest now....

There you have it – my vote for dubbin. Honestly, a few minutes looking after your leather footwear every week will not only make it last longer, it will also make it perform better and feel more comfortable. So, as my mum used to say, “Get in the kitchen and get your boots dubbined before you go out to play!”.


My seasoned old cloth!

Dubbin on boots
Two minutes later...