In short: Classic UGG boots are made of suede sheepskin leather, which is susceptible to drying out and cracking when exposed to the elements. To prevent your UGG boots from becoming hard and crusty, apply suede sheepskin conditioner once every season.
Have you noticed the exterior of your UGG boots is no longer as soft when they’re brand new? If your UGGs are hard and crusty, learn how to restore and soften the material.
Why do UGG boots become hard and crusty?
Natural elements (sunshine and moisture), low humidity, and liquid can make your UGG boots hard and crusty. It’s important to know how to wear them and how to store them properly.
1. Exposure to the elements
To understand why UGG boots become hard and crusty over time, it’s important to understand the characteristics of the main material of UGG boots: suede leather made of sheepskin.
Suede is a particular finish of leather that is characterized by its soft, fibrous finish. It is noticeably thinner, and not as strong as traditional, full-grain leather.
The most common animal hide used for suede leather is sheepskin, known for its pliable and brush-textured surface. It is the lightest, and most delicate suede, among all the others.
Because suede leather is made from the inner surface of animal hides, usually sheepskin, it is susceptible to drying out and cracking when exposed to the elements.
This is why UGG boots will not appreciate strong sunlight or damp conditions.
Strong sunlight will bleach and dry out the material, making them hard and crusty. On the other hand, moisture will attract black mold and make the natural fibers curl up.
Despite the fact that the suede sheepskin leather of UGG boots is not waterproof and snow-proof, the material is excellent for keeping you warm during the cold winter months.
2. Low humidity leads to cracking and weakening of the fibers
Another reason why your UGG boots are hard and crusty is probably due to low humidity. Have you been storing them in a place where it is super dry (low humidity)?
Suede leather can easily dry in a low-humidity setting, which can lead to cracking and weakening of the fibers. To remedy this, condition your UGG boots once every 4 months.
3. Moisture can cause suede leather to deteriorate and mold
On the other hand, your UGG boots can become hard and crusty if they are kept in a sealed atmosphere, where the humidity can increase, causing the leather to deteriorate and mold.
Whenever your UGG boots are wet or damp, please make sure to give them plenty of time to dry out naturally away from sunlight (usually 24 hours or more) before storing them.
Where to store UGG boots?
A dressing room or closet with an average livable temperature, humidity level, and regular airflow is a good place to store suede leather footwear, like UGG boots.
Boot storage bags like these are perfect. They are made of a breathable fabric that can keep your boots dry and well-ventilated. The individual compartments prevent each pair from rubbing.
Remember, without proper air circulation, the natural fibers of the suede leather cannot breathe. The humidity can also increase, causing the suede leather to deteriorate and mold.
How to fix hard and crusty UGG boots
To prevent your UGG boots from becoming hard and crusty, apply suede conditioner once every 4 months. It protects the sheepskin from cracking or drying out, keeping them soft and supple.
For the best results, we recommend the complete shoe care kit from UGGS. It includes a protective spray, a conditioner, and a rejuvenating solution for suede sheepskin leather.
Here’s how to condition your UGG boots:
- Brush the surface gently to remove dirt.
- Moisten the surface with a clean, damp sponge.
- Apply a small amount of conditioner to the damp sponge.
- Gently scrub the boots.
- Remove any residue with a sponge.
- Stuff the boots with paper towels to maintain their shape.
- Let boots dry naturally for 24 hours in a cool, ventilated area.
Once your UGG boots are completely dry, use the suede brush (included in the shoe care kit) and brush each pair in a single direction to restore the original appearance.
If you use another brand of conditioner, it may darken the leather. Pre-test a small amount in a hidden spot. Watch out for any change in the color of the sheepskin one hour after application.
Now you know why your UGG boots are hard and crusty. To protect sheepskin UGG boots from cracking or drying out, apply conditioner specifically for sheepskin regularly.
Finally, how you store your UGG boots matters. Do not cover them in plastic as this will cause them to dry out. Store your boots in a cool, dry place and keep them away from direct sunlight.