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Jul 14, 2021 / Safety Toe Footwear

5 Tips on How to Clean Timberland Boots

If you’re wondering, “are timberlands good work boots,” the short answer is yes. In fact, Timberland and Timberland PRO footwear lines are some of the best boots and shoes for work and outdoor activities. But cleaning them is key to extending their life as long as possible.

To that end, let’s break down 5 key tips for having clean Timberlands:

  • First,brush off any large piece of dirt or debris. Try using something soft like a cotton cloth so you don't further scratch the exterior.
  • Start with a dry brush technique and move gradually into wet cleaning
  • Clean the exterior of your work boots with boot cleaner
  • Waterproof or re-waterproof your boots with store-bought applications
  • Optimize the storage of your boots post-cleaning to maximize your boots’ lifespan

We’ll cover techniques for all materials found on Timberland work boots- including leather, suede, etc.

Tip #1: Move From Dry to Wet Cleaning Techniques

The first and most essential step for cleaning your Timberland boots is to start with a careful approach. Remove as much dirt and debris as you can, by hand, before starting more intensive techniques. Dirt can be very abrasive to the leather and can speed up the process of cracking, especially where it creases, when it is allowed to embed into the grain. Pick off larger chunks of loose dirt or rocks caked onto or stuck inside the upper or outer sole of the shoe. This prevents these items from scratching the shoe while dry or wet brushing it.

Then, start scrubbing with a soft bristle brush or a soft cloth before graduating to stiffer brushes for the tough stains. In some cases, a pencil eraser can be a great tool to get some of the topical marks out.

After the dry cleaning, begin wet scrubbing with a little bit of water before turning to a boot cleaner, such as a store-bought leather cleaner, soapy water or a diluted soap/vinegar cleaning solution.

Simple tools like a toothbrush and dish soap can be great first steps before graduating to a more advanced cleaning product. Again, don't use too much water as you want to avoid water stains. It's important that you dry the boots both before and after you scrub to avoid any type of stain or other damage to them.

Note:All soap needs to be removed from the leather much like your skin which generally requires sufficient wetting. Better to get it wet then allow a "drying agent" to remain on the leather.

Tip #2: Don’t Neglect the Boot Interior

An easy mistake to make when cleaning your Timberland work boots is to focus solely on the exterior surfaces, such as the upper and the outsole. However, proper maintenance of the interior is key to helping your boots survive-and remain just as comfortable-for as long as possible.

To learn how to clean your insoles or shoes' interior, use an undiluted application of white vinegar, sprayed directly into and on the interior surface. Rather than drying it up immediately with the help of heat or absorption, you should let the leather soak in completely, then dry out completely-all completely naturally.

This cleaning method allows for optimal smell and bacterial removal. Finally, lock in the freshness by applying baking soda and letting it sit overnight, then shaking it out in the morning.

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Tip #3: Restore Sheen with a Polish or Dye

A common mistake made while cleaning Timberland shoes is to assume that the process is done once your scrubbing and soaking are finished. Once the exterior and interior of the boot have been cleaned thoroughly and all of the tough stains are removed, you still need to take preventive measures to help lock in the freshness and extend the timeline to when your next deep cleaning will be.

At this stage, you’ll want to wait until the boots are completely free of dirt and excess cleaning materials and fully dried. Then, you can apply one of three topicals, depending on your needs:

  • A protective formula to extend resistance to chemicals
  • A general leather conditioner to maximize its natural beauty
  • If working with a “finished leather”, a leather shoe polish to restore color and shine that may have withered away due to wear and tear or through vigorous cleaning
  • Keep in mind that not all boots are “finished leather”, and are instead “naked leather” and the color is dyed in making shoe polish unnecessary

Tip #4: Waterproof Your Boots for Longevity

Are Timberlands waterproof? It depends. Another preventive step, but one that’s distinct from regular conditioning, is restoring or adding waterproofing or weatherproofing to your Timberlands to prevent water from penetrating the interior and avoiding water stains.

Two common methods include:

  • Rub-on applications - Hard, wax-based applications or soft, oil-based creams offer optimal waterproofing but can be more difficult and time consuming to apply. Waxes need to be heated and rubbed on, whereas oils and creams can cause darkening that dissipates over time.
  • Spray-on applications - spray treatments offer water resistance. Often silicone-based, they won’t make your boots fully waterproof but they do offer a much easier and fast option. However, the actual waterproofing of a waterproofing spray can be less reliable and wears off much quicker than rub-on variants, with re-application needed soon after.

While it’s not part of the cleaning process and can be done even to brand new shoes that don’t need to be cleaned, waterproofing with a leather protector is a good practice that makes future cleaning easier.

Note: You should always replace oils after cleaning. The heavier the leather, the heavier the oil. Light dress leathers Bic4. Heavy work leathers use mink oil or other leather greases

Tip #5: Optimize Boot Storage After Cleaning

Finally, the last strategy to optimize your Timberland cleaning process also has less to do with cleaning than with preventive measures you can take to make cleaning less frequent and easier when it is needed. By storing your leather boots in a safe, dry, temperature-controlled environment, you’ll extend the life of their original conditioning and any extra treatment you’ve added afterward.

Best practices include keeping your clean Timberlands in the boxes they came in or other designated shoe boxes, ideally with shoe trees or anti-fungal treatments installed within them.

If you can, avoid wearing the same pair of suede or leather boots each day-having a rotation of at least two pairs helps to extend the life of all of them by giving each pair a chance to dry out completely after being worn and sweat in.

Boot World’s Boots and Boot Accessories

Here at Boot World, we carry each cleaning product you need to keep your Timberland or Timberland PRO boots as fresh as the day you bought them. We also carry all your favorite styles, from all your favorite brands, to replace your current pair or build a strong rotation. You can even try on your boots before buying them at one of our many locations if you are wondering, “how do Timberlands fit”?

Shop Boot World to find your next favorite pair of Timberland boots for women or men's timberland boots, at prices you can’t beat.

Reviewed By:
Ed Stone

Ed Stone brings over 45 years of footwear knowledge and passion to his role as President of Boot World, a family-owned company and an industry leader in safety and occupational footwear. A second generation "shoe dog” Ed's footwear knowledge is unparalleled, serving as an informal advisor for some of the worlds largest footwear brands including Wolverine, Timberland PRO, and Reebok Works.

A lifelong Southern California resident, and ardent conservationist, Ed enjoys hiking and open water swimming.