Do Work Boots Expire? (Should You Replace Them Regularly?)

No, work boots do not have an expiring date. What you’ll usually find marked somewhere on your work boots is the date of the manufacturing.

a pair of safety toe work boots next to an empty bottle with an expiring date on it.

So you’ll see something like: Made in The US: 11/2021

But you won’t see something like this: Best before 11/2021 🙂

I’ve asked the health and safety officer on my site and he said there’s no such thing as an expiring date for work boots. He mentioned that there is a recommended time for you to use your work boots safely.

This means that after using your work boots for a specific amount of time, they won’t protect you as they should. 

Do steel toe boots expire?

No, work boots with steel toe cap protection do not have an expiring date. 

How about composite toe work boots?

Composite work boots do not expire either. 

How long do work boots last?

It’s probably the most tricky question to answer. If you read reviews or consumer’s feedback on any pair of work boots you’ll see that people have totally different experiences in terms of how long their work boots lasted.

Some say 2 years, others will say 3,5,10 years whilst others will say their work boots lasted less than a year.

It will depend on a lot of factors really:

  • Are the boots made by a top company?
  • Are they made in the US or overseas?
  • What materials are used to build the boot?
  • What type of work do you do?
  • How much you’re walking per day?
  • Etc
  • Etc
  • Etc

In my own experience, working in construction, I never had a pair of work boots that lasted me longer than 2 years. And I’ve done different jobs from general laborer to crane operated and everything in between.

When should you replace your work boots?

Here are a few things to look at when deciding to replace them:

Are they still functional?

This is a simple question in my opinion. When you buy a pair of work boots, you don’t buy them JUST because they look good on you. You buy them to protect your feet whilst doing your job and earning money.

If any of the parts of your boot break down to the point where you think it doesn’t protect you anymore…then it’s time to go shopping for a new pair of work boots.

For example, if the sole lugs wear to the point where the work boot doesn’t provide you with traction and the anti-slip function, then you could resole them or replace them.

Are your work boots still comfortable?

In the beginning, the work boots could be a bit stiff, until they break-in. But after the break-in period, they become very comfortable as the work boot mold to your feet (both on the footbed and the upper).

With time you will change the insoles as they wear out and become uncomfortable.

Also, the leather might become a bit dry. But you can solve these two problems by simply buying a new insole or apply some mink oil to the leather to recondition it bringing it back to life by doing so.

But if the leather cracks or you have a hole in the sole, etc it’s time to change your work boots.

You’ll have water, hazardous chemicals, or dirt coming into your boots through these cracks and holes. And it’s not comfortable at all to work in these conditions 10-12 hours a day (not for me anyway).

Is there any sign of damage?

As I said above, if you see deep cuts in the upper (leather or other materials used to build the boot), holes, or extreme wear and tear of the sole and similar, don’t think twice before replacing the boot.

You can check with a cobbler first to see if they can fix it. If they can’t, I say bye-bye to them.

How often should you replace your work boots?

Personally, I replace my work boots as soon as they become uncomfortable or any of the parts break down.

I’ve seen some of my colleagues wear their boots even though the sole fell off. Just add some duck tape and they’re good for another few weeks or months. 

Your health is more important than everything else. That’s why I strongly recommend replacing your work boots before they become like my colleague’s work boots. For your own safety!

In my case, I replace my work boots every year and a half more or less.

So, do safety boots go bad or have a shelf life? The takeaway

The takeaway is that work boots do not expire as some other PPE gear does. Sometimes, if you leave your work boots in the cupboard for too long, the next time you put them on you might find that the sole might have disintegrated.

This happens to the boot soles made of polyurethane (PU) and with time (usually years) the sole might suffer from a chemical reaction called hydrolysis.

This simply means that when PU soles come in contact with water and are left in confined spaces such as the lockers, cupboards, etc for a long period of time … the sole might crumble to pieces.

So check out what the sole is made of and also what’s the date of the manufacturing. The older the boot, the higher the chances of getting a bad one.

Other than this little detail, work boots should last for many decades!


Team Members Working On This Page

Adrian – Editor / Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, take care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!


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