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Aug 30, 2021 / Safety Toe Footwear

How To Clean your Work Boots: A Simple Guide | Boot World

It’s easy to ignore your work boots after you buy them but taking the time to care for your boots will make them last longer. Cleaning your boots once a month will keep them from wearing down inside and out. In this article, we’ll give you a few quick tips on how to keep your safety footwear, like our men’s lace-up work boots, in tip-top shape.

Clean the inside and insoles

One of the worst things about work safety boots and slip-on boots can be the smell. So how do you get rid of that funk? Before you clean the rest of the boot, remove your insoles and wash them in the washing machine with a mild soap detergent or hand wash with a low-pH shampoo.

While you wait for your insoles to air dry, use a damp cloth and low-Ph shampoo to clean out the inside of the boot until the smell is gone. If the shoe is really dirty inside, it will need to be scrubbed with the shampoo and rinsed thoroughly. Use a clean dry cloth to blot up the shampoo residue and get as much moisture out of the boot as possible. Then, let the inside of your boot air-dry at room temperature overnight with a boot shoe tree or any way of suspending them upside down.

Do not put the clean work boots in the dryer, or it could melt the glue. Instead, find a warm place in your house, and add scrunched up newspaper to the boots to absorb any excess moisture and help keep their shape.

What about leather boots?

Leather boots are great, but they take a bit more work to clean without causing damage. For a light cleaning, use a moderately damp brush or cloth to wipe away any dust and dirt. Use an old toothbrush to thoroughly clean the areas around the leather upper,; sole, and creases where caked-on dirt and gunk may have gathered, causing the material to stain and scuff.

For a deeper clean, the process is a little more intense:

    • 1. After removing dirt and debris with a soft cloth, add a leather cleaning product

      Saddle soap cleans and moisturizes leather so it will last longer, it can also be used on materials other than leather. In a circular motion, add saddle soap with a wet brush or cloth. Work up a foam on the surface as you add it to the entire boot. Rinse the boot until clean. Use a clean cloth to wipe away the excess lather from the leather boot.

    • 2. Let your boot air-dry without heat

  • 3. Condition the leather with oil

Allow your clean work boots to dry before this next step but don’t want too long or else the leather will dry out from the cleaning. Work the conditioner into the leather all over the boot. Conditioning helps moisturize the leather to prevent drying and cracking. If you want to give your boots a shine, now is the time to do it. As you use a clean cloth to remove the excess conditioner, buff the boots with long circular strokes and give them a nice shine. Note that if the booth is suede or nubuck, the oil will darken the leather but it will nourish and help keep it from drying out

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Clean the soles

Cleaning the soles is not typically necessary unless you are concerned about the finish of the surface you will be walking on. If so, the first step is an easy one to skip since you don’t look at the bottom of your shoes very often, but debris and rocks left in your sole will wear down the tread and shoe. When you’re cleaning the sole, use a hard brush to remove any solid dirt. You may also need a pair of tweezers to pull out any stones or other debris from the tread. After you remove all the hardened dirt and debris, use a brush and mild soap detergent to wash the soles of your boots thoroughly. Now, you can move on to the rest of the boot.

That didn’t take too much time, did it?

Taking care of your boots doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can add years to the life of your work boots. We hope this simple guide to cleaning the inside and outside of your boots helps remove any concerns you had. Whether you have a pair of leather work boots or not, cleaning them is a simple process that should not be forgotten. Have more questions about how to clean your work boots? Visit one of Boot Word’s locations today to get expert advice and input!

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.