How to Properly Wash Your Boots

I’ve always been a firm believer that taking care of your boots is essential if you want them to last. After all, they’ve been with us through thick and thin, protecting our feet from the elements and keeping us comfortable. So, when it comes to washing your boots, it’s important to do it properly. In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to give your beloved boots the TLC they deserve, as well as answer the burning question about washing your boots alongside your furry friend’s Barkley dog bed. So, grab a seat and get ready to learn the ins and outs of boot washing!

How to Properly Wash Your Boots

If you’re like me, you understand the importance of taking care of your boots. Whether they’re hiking boots, work boots, or just your favorite pair of everyday footwear, keeping them clean and well-maintained is essential for their longevity and performance. In this article, I will walk you through a comprehensive guide on how to properly wash your boots, ensuring they remain in the best possible condition for years to come.

Preparing Your Boots for Washing

Before we dive into the actual washing process, it’s important to properly prepare your boots. Start by removing the laces and any inserts or insoles if possible. This will allow for a more thorough cleaning and ensure that every nook and cranny is reached. Additionally, if your boots are particularly dirty, it’s a good idea to brush off any loose dirt and debris before moving on to the actual washing step.

Removing Dirt and Debris

To remove dirt and debris from your boots, you have a few different options depending on the level of dirtiness. For light dirt and dust, a simple wipe with a damp cloth will usually suffice. However, for more stubborn dirt or mud, a brush with stiff bristles can be used to dislodge the debris. Be sure to brush in all directions, paying special attention to the creases and seams of the boots.

How to Properly Wash Your Boots

Cleaning Different Types of Boots

Different types of boots require different cleaning methods. Let’s take a closer look at how to clean a few common types:

  1. Leather boots: Start by gently wiping the surface with a damp cloth. For more thorough cleaning, you can use a mild soap or leather cleaner specifically designed for boots. Apply the cleaner using a soft cloth or sponge, lathering it gently in a circular motion. Rinse off any soap residue with a clean damp cloth and allow the boots to air dry.

  2. Suede boots: Use a suede brush to remove surface dirt and restore the nap of the suede. For tougher stains, carefully use a suede eraser or a mixture of water and mild soap. Avoid saturating the suede and allow the boots to dry naturally, away from direct heat sources.

  3. Rubber boots: Wipe off any surface dirt using a damp cloth or sponge. Use a mild detergent or soap along with warm water to clean the boots. Scrub gently with a soft brush, paying attention to any stubborn stains. Rinse thoroughly and air dry.

Remember, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your specific type of boot to ensure you’re using the appropriate methods and products.

Drying and Conditioning Your Boots

Once your boots are clean, it’s crucial to dry them properly. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources such as radiators or fires, as this can cause the leather to crack or distort. Instead, stuff the boots with newspaper or clean rags to help absorb moisture and maintain their shape. Leave them in a well-ventilated area until completely dry, which may take several hours or even overnight.

After your boots are dry, it’s a good idea to apply a conditioner to keep the leather or other materials supple and prevent cracking. Be sure to use a conditioner specifically formulated for the type of boot you have.

How to Properly Wash Your Boots

Removing Tough Stains and Odors

Sometimes, stains and odors can be particularly stubborn to remove. Here are a few tips to tackle these more challenging issues:

  1. Stain removal: For oil or grease stains, sprinkle cornstarch or baby powder on the affected area and let it sit overnight. The powder will absorb the oils, making it easier to brush off the next day. For other stains, like ink or wine, consider using a specialized stain remover that is safe for your boots’ material.

  2. Odor elimination: To eliminate unpleasant odors from your boots, sprinkle baking soda inside them and leave it overnight to absorb the smells. Additionally, using odor-absorbing inserts or sachets made with activated charcoal or cedar can help keep your boots fresh.

Tips for Maintaining the Quality of Your Boots

Now that your boots are clean and looking their best, it’s important to follow a few maintenance tips to prolong their lifespan:

  1. Regular cleaning: Make it a habit to clean your boots regularly, even if they don’t appear dirty. This will prevent the build-up of dirt and grime, ensuring easier and more effective cleaning in the long run.

  2. Waterproofing: Consider applying a waterproofing spray or conditioner to protect your boots from water damage. This is especially beneficial for leather and suede boots, as it helps repel moisture and prevent staining.

  3. Polishing: For leather boots, periodic polishing can not only enhance their appearance but also provide an extra layer of protection. Use a high-quality polish in a color that matches your boots and follow the instructions carefully.

  4. Rotating pairs: If you have multiple pairs of boots, rotate them regularly. Alternating your footwear allows each pair to dry thoroughly between wears, reducing the risk of moisture damage and unpleasant odors.

How to Properly Wash Your Boots

Alternative Methods for Cleaning Boots

While the methods mentioned above are the most commonly used, there are a few alternative methods for cleaning boots that you might find interesting:

  1. Vinegar solution: A mixture of water and white vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect your boots. Dilute the vinegar with water, apply it to a clean cloth, and gently wipe the boots. Be sure to rinse off any vinegar residue and allow the boots to dry naturally.

  2. Freezing: If your boots have developed an unpleasant smell, try placing them in a sealed plastic bag and putting them in the freezer overnight. The extreme cold temperature kills odor-causing bacteria, leaving your boots smelling fresh.

Preventing Future Damage and Wear

To prevent unnecessary damage and wear, there are a few precautions you can take:

  1. Avoid excessive moisture exposure: While some boots are designed for wet conditions, it’s generally best to avoid prolonged exposure to water. If your boots do get wet, dry them thoroughly as explained earlier to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

  2. Protect from extreme temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can damage the materials of your boots. Avoid leaving them in a hot car or exposing them to freezing temperatures for extended periods.

How to Properly Wash Your Boots

Storing Your Boots Properly

Proper storage is essential to maintain the quality of your boots when they’re not in use. Here are a few tips:

  1. Clean and dry: Before storing your boots, make sure they are clean and completely dry. Lingering moisture can lead to mold or mildew growth.

  2. Stuff and shape: Fill the boots with acid-free tissue paper or use boot shapers to help them maintain their shape while in storage.

  3. Store upright or hanging: If space allows, storing your boots upright in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area will help prevent dents or creases. Alternatively, you can hang them using boot hangers.


Taking care of your boots is not only a matter of aesthetics but also a way to ensure their longevity and performance. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can properly wash your boots, remove dirt and debris, clean different types of boots, dry and condition them, remove tough stains and odors, maintain their quality, explore alternative cleaning methods, prevent future damage and wear, and store them properly. Remember, a little bit of care and attention go a long way in keeping your boots looking and feeling their best. So go ahead, give your boots the TLC they deserve!

How to Properly Wash Your Boots





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