In the cooler part of the year, we rely heavily on shearling boots to keep our feet warm around the house without having to wear outdoor shoes.
If you’ve ever tried them, you know how warm shearling footwear can be—at first. After the first winter or so, they seem to lose their warming capabilities; your feet don’t stay as warm as they used to. Is it time to get a new pair? No! Revive your shearling footwear yourself, and add years to each pair’s use!
The warming quality of insulating materials comes from “loft,” the ability of a material to trap and hold air molecules. Sheep’s wool is famous for its insulating properties, which depend on loft. As you use fleece lined (shearling) footwear, your weight smashes the wool down, destroying loft, and with it, insulating capability. Restoring this insulation is actually quite easy.
I use a cat brush with rubber-tipped metal bristles on my shearling. I play rough, working it into the fibers and scrubbing around until the fleece becomes fluffy again. At first I was afraid that this would pull out tufts of wool, but that hasn’t happened very much at all. A few minutes of vigorous brushing, and the loft is restored, and my warm house boots are warm again!
Use a smaller brush that will reach deep inside your shoe to the toe. Root around and make sure you’ve brushed every inch of wool thoroughly. When you’re done, your footwear will feel like new, and be much warmer once again.
I highly recommend that when choosing footwear of any kind, you look for ones with removable/replaceable insoles. My shearling house boots have a sole that can be removed for serious brushing, and replacement when the time eventually comes. I use a couple sets of insoles at once, changing them out every day to keep them fresher. This simple feature, and restoring the loft occasionally, has added years to my boots’ lives.