When Should Work Boots Be Replaced? (And How Often?)

A pair of work boots must last you at least a year before breaking down or it needs replacement. When should you change your work boots and how often it largely depends on your work, how active you are, the quality of the boots, etc, etc, etc.

a lady and two men looking at new work boots so they can replace their old work boots.

But nowadays, a good pair of work boots that you can buy on Amazon or any other retail store should last you a minimum of 8 months all the way up to 24 months depending on your industry and how much you abuse them.

I’m still yet to meet someone that wear their boots for more than 3 years! (Maximum I got from a pair of safety boots is 1 year and 8 months working in construction.)

Here’s when you should replace your work boots

There are a few instances where I had to replace my work boots. They were not safe anymore since one or more of the features that were supposed to protect my feet have been compromised to some degree.

1. When there are cuts on the upper of the boot

Depending on what type of industry you’re working in this might be not very significant or it can be paramount! But keep an eye on how the upper of your boot looks like.

If there are any holes, cuts, or deep scratches present … that might mean you need to replace your work boots.

As I said, this will depend on what kind of work you’re doing. Imagine a person working in a warehouse and another person working in a garage, in the oil industry, or working with wet concrete.

The warehouse worker is still safe with a cut in the upper of the boot since will work in a nice and dry area. Whereas the others will be exposed to dangerous chemicals coming into their boots that could potentially cause some serious injuries. 

2. When the toe cap has been damaged in any way

Some people won’t understand that if something heavy dropped on your safety toe cap (steel toe, composite toe, alloy toe cap) … it saved your toes ONE TIME.

If there are any visible damages to the toe cap, even a little dent, and you’re still wearing that boot, next time you might not be so lucky. 

Health and safety officers say to change the boots immediately since the toe cap integrity has been or might have been compromised after one significant impact. 

3. When the outsole show cuts, cracks, or punctures

Not everyone works in a dangerous environment. But most jobs I go to, I step on screws, nails, broken glass, and other sharp items that can penetrate the sole of the boot. Especially if the boots don’t have a puncture-resistant outsole.

Even with a puncture-resistant boot, if your work boots show any potential cuts and cracks on the outsole you should definitely think about replacing them. 

They won’t protect you if you end up stepping on any sharp objects leaving you exposed to serious injuries that could potentially keep you on the bed for days and weeks.

4. After a foot infection

Again, this might not be your case, but due to the nature of my job (construction contractor) working in wet and humid conditions most of time, I’m at high risk of developing athlete’s foot and other foot conditions. That’s because my boots are always wet or humid (even though I wear waterproof work boots most of the time).

A little while back I got infected with athlete’s foot and it was horrible. One of the things I had to do was to replace all my socks with new ones as I was starting the athlete’s foot treatment.

In order to make sure I’m going to get rid of the athlete’s foot fungus, I decided to throw away my stinky work boots as well. That was before I knew you could disinfect and sanitize your work boots by using a solution of alcohol isopropyl mixed with water.

Anyway, you don’t really have to throw them away, but I was desperate to get rid of that fungus because it was ruining my life. You can try and disinfect them first though.

Here’s how often you should replace your old work boots

If your work boots don’t show any of the above issues, you don’t have to change your work boots unless you get bored of wearing them (which happens to me all the time). 

Most of the time I replace my work boots because I want something new and maybe more modern and comfortable.

Again, in terms of the safety of the work boots, you should change them every time one of the above signs appears. 

Otherwise, you can change your work boots as often as you want.

Can’t you just repair the work boots instead of replacing them?

Yes, that’s actually a great idea. You can repair your work boots. Any good cobbler will resole your work boots or do any repair on a good pair of old work boots and leave them as new.

You just have to make sure it makes sense for you from a financial point of view as some repairs might be very expensive.

But you can repair almost everything in a work boot:

  • The outsole of your work boots
  • The upper
  • The inside
  • Zippers
  • Etc

How long usually a pair of work boots last?

How long a pair of work boots will last hugely depend on the type of work you’re doing and many other factors really.

If you work as a UPS delivery driver, for example, your work boots can last for at least 2 years before you even considering repairing them. 

Of course, I’m assuming you’re mostly driving during your shift and that means the soles and other parts of the boots won’t get worn as fast as if you work as a carpenter or maybe a correction officer, police officer, etc.

Basically, the more active you are in your day-to-day job and activities the faster your work boots will need a repair or a replacement.

Personally, I never had a pair of safety work that lasted more than 2 years working in construction as a handyman, machinist, and other positions I had.

Do work boots have an expiry date?

No, work boots don’t have an expiring date on them. Maybe the leather and other materials the boot’s upper it’s made off might have a shelf life in the sense that if they just stay in a box for years, some parts of the boot might start to fell apart like is in the case of some type of outsoles.

Is there anything you can do to make them last longer and avoid replacing them?

As a matter of fact yes, you can. Here are a few things you can do to make your work boots last longer and avoid replacing them too fast.

7. Have more than one pair

This will not only avoid getting bored of one pair of boots (assuming you’re not going to buy the same model) but it will also avoid fungus and bacteria building up inside the boot. 

Also, by doing this the boot will keep your foot more comfortable for longer.

6. Clean them

Clean the boots on the outside it’s also helpful for a longer lifespan of the work boots. Especially if it’s made of leather as leather and dirt are not best friends.

Dirt and dust will dry the boot over time and that could damage the leather and eventually will crack.

5. Wash them

Also, wash your boots. Here’s how I wash my work boots if you want some ideas. There are a few ways to do it. You can pick and choose from just throwing them in the washing machine to dry wash them.  

Whatever you choose, washing your work boots will also increase the life cycle of your boots avoiding replacement.

4. Oil them

Oiling your work boots will not only make them more comfortable but will also moisturize the leather and even make it waterproof. 

3. Disinfect them

One of the best things about having two pairs of boots available at any time is that you can take turns washing them and even disinfect them. I disinfect my work boots when they get stinky and that’s every two months or so.

This will prevent you from suffering from athlete’s foot and other related conditions that might force you to replace your work boots.

2. Buy orthotics insoles

I rarely find a pair of work boots that have an amazing insole from the get-go. So I usually have a pair of insoles around to put in my new work boots as soon as I buy them.

But with time, the insoles and the footbed of the boot get stinky and also they become uncomfortable. The solution to that is not to replace your work boots but to buy new inserts. (cheaper than repairing the boots or buying new ones)

1. Repair them 

You can definitely repair your work boots. Unfortunately, it’s not something many people choose to do nowadays simply because on some occasions it’s not cost-effective. It’s better to just throw them away and get a new pair.

But if you buy good boots, especially good and expensive leather work boots, it might be better to ask a cobbler how much will cost a repair before throwing them away.

The takeaway

Keep in mind that if you take care of your work boots (clean them in and out, oil them, etc) you won’t have to replace them that often as long as they don’t break down on important parts such as the sole or the upper.


Team Members Working On This Page

Writen & Edited By 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
Researched by 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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