Bean boots, $100 at L.L. Bean
You're right. Those boots can last decades if you take care of them. Between trudging through dirty slush and salt or splashing in those mysterious Manhattan puddles, boots—even those made to take a beating—come out looking battered. We called up the fine folks at L.L. Bean's headquarters in Freeport, Maine, who patched us through to the design studio. Here's their in-house method for cleaning Bean boots.
Brush the dirt off.
Clean any surface grime off the leather uppers with a soft brush or cloth and finish with a few swipes of a damp cloth. Allow leather to dry completely away from direct heat.
Preserve and waterproof.
Use a natural beeswax-based conditioner to protect and weatherproof the boot. We use "Boot Guard" but Sno Seal ($5) is a good one too that's more readily available.
Restore the rubber.
Wipe the bottoms clean with a wet cloth and dry. Good old-fashioned Armor All ($6), applied lightly, can be used to restore rubber and prevent cracking and color fading.