I put my work boots to extreme use and abuse every day. By the time the weekend kicks in, these every day shoes are often muddy, moist, and odorous.
While I do give them some quick touchups on a daily basis to keep the odor away, I find that thorough cleaning does the magic of restoring their shine and making them ready for the following week of work.
If you too want to make your work boots last longer while maintaining its non-vintage appeal, you should have a regular cleaning schedule for them.
So in this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to clean work boots the right way. It doesn’t matter if you mow grass, work in construction, fix motor vehicles, or work in wet environments, the cleaning tips shared in this guide makes cleaning work boots zero rocket science and more fun.
Let’s get started.
4 Ways to Clean Work Boots the Right Way
1. Start Cleaning the Boots from the Inside Out
Cleaning work boots the right way starts by removing odor and dirt from the inside out. Make sure you have the right cleaning supplies, including mild detergent, baking soda, shampoo, a plastic bag, socks, and some lint free cloth.
Then follow the steps below to clean your boots from the inside out:
- Slowly unlace the boots and then pull out the work boots’ insoles.
- Use the mild detergent to clean the insoles and the laces, even if you don’t think that they smell that bad. Doing this kills bacteria, removes germs, and kills odor.
- Mix the mild shampoo with warm water, dip the soft lint-free cloth in the solution, and use it to clean the inside of the boots thoroughly, starting from the toe box through the footbed all the way to the heel counter.
- Repeat the process, this time focusing on the outer parts of the work boots. Be gentle on the leather by moving your fingers slowly so you don’t leave scratches on the material
- Rinse away the soap if any is still on the boots and then air them outside to dry.
If you notice that the boots are still smelly even after thorough cleaning, add two tablespoons of baking soda in a pair of socks and stuff them in the footbed of the boots. This should clear away the odor.
2. Removing Debris from Your Work Boots
I recommend developing the habit of cleaning dirt off from your work boots on a daily basis. It could be thin traces of dust blown on the leather by stepping on mud puddle by mistake or a huge chunk of mud from heavy rain, combined with grass and small rocks, stuck on the outsoles. Whatever it is, you need to clean your boots to remove the debris.
- Use a piece of stick or nail file to scrape huge chunk of dirt from the outer soles, if there any. You particularly want to pay attention to this option if it’s currently raining where you live.
- Get a soft piece of cloth, damp it, and then use it to clean off dirt and debris stuck on the leather. Don’t use a firm brash as it can scratch the leather and destroy the quality of your work boot.
- Mix cold water with dish soap in one parts each, dip a clean cloth in the mixture, and use it to wipe the boots to remove the traces of dirt and debris left.
- Now condition the boots. Apply a high quality leather conditioner and leave the boots for about 15 minute. Finish by buffing them with a soft brush for a shiner finish.
2. Removing Salt Stains from Work Boots
Salt and leather have to be worlds apart as possible. So the moment you notice that there salt stains on your work boots, get water, vinegar, and two pieces of cloth. Then, follow the steps below to get rid of the stains.
- Mix water and vinegar in one parts each, dip a clean cloth in the solution, and then use it to clean the salt stain off the leather.
- Use the second piece of cloth to wipe the area you just damped with the wet piece, this time making sure the cloth sucks up the wetness completely.
- Leave your work boots in an open space to dry or use Boot Dryer , only make sure you don’t expose them to too much heat.
3. Get Rid of Stains from Leather Work Boots
It’s not just dirt, dust, or salt stains that can affect the quality of your work boots. Even grease and water-based stains can be just as bothersome.
To remove grease stains from your work boots:
- Blot some oil on a soft microfiber cloth. Gently rub the piece of cloth on the leather to remove the grease stains.
- Sprinkle talcum powder over the area with grease stains and leave it to stay on the boots overnight.
- Come back to the boots the following day and rub off the power from the leather to complete the cleaning process.
To clean water-based stains from work boots:
- Get lime juice or tartar cream and apply it on the stained part of the footwear.
- Use a soft cloth to rub the juice or cream on the leather in a circular motion.
- Use another piece of cloth to clear cream off the boots and then leave them to dry .
As you can see, cleaning your work boots from home is so easy that you don’t want to skip. And with the right cleaning supplies readily available for just a few bucks, don’t hesitate to give the boots quick touchups on weekdays and deep cleaning on the weekends.
Remember, regular cleaning doesn’t make your boots look clean. It also enhances the durability of the pair so it maintains the aesthetics over the long term.
I should point out that it’s also a good idea to keep the work boots in a cool, dry, and clean area when they are not in use. That means not stacking them up with tools in the garage but looking a space for them in the closet or in your shoes rack.
I also love the idea of conditioning boots from time to time. Consider this as an option to keep the leather from cracking. That’s because conditioners ensure the leather material gets the moisture necessary to keep the whole boots’ structure in good standing.