How to Clean Leather work boots – And Make Them Look New Again
Whether you took notice yourself or needed a coworker to point it out, you’ve come to the realization that your boots could use a good cleaning. Inevitably, as you put your work boots through wringer day in and day out, they’re going collect dirt and other debris, get wet and lose their overall lustrous shine.
(Full guide for top-rated work footwear here)
Leather is not as easy to clean as a dirty shirt that you can throw in the washing machine. In fact, if you clean leather the wrong way, you can actually damage it and shorten the wear life of your precious footwear. In this guide, we’re going to show you step by step how to clean leather work boots.
How to Wash Work Boots
Leather is a durable, but delicate material in the sense that you need to take proper care of it in order to keep it in prime condition. By the time you’re done going through this guide, your boots will be their old envy-inducing selves once more. Before you start, make sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need.
We have many more guides on taking care of your work boots. We recommend reading more on the various topics so you get the most from your work boots.
What you'll need:
- 4 clean rags
- Dish soap
- Small bucket
- Mink oil
Follow these Simple instructions
Step 1: Remove the laces and wash separately
You can either throw the laces in the washing machine or do it by hand in the sink and let them hang dry. With the laces off, you’ll be able to get all of the nooks and crannies during the cleaning process.
Step 2: Use a dry cloth to wipe the outside free of loose dirt and debris
This is an important step prior to the lathering process. If you don’t get all of the debris, some of the harder pieces can get caught under the rag while scrubbing and scratch or gouge the leather. If you have to, consider using a toothbrush to get the hard to reach places.
Step 3: Dip a clean rag into warm soapy water and scrub the leather surfaces
Fill your bucket with warm water and add just enough dish soap to get some bubbles, this mix is used as leather work boot cleaner.
Dip the clean rag, wring it out, and begin lathering and scrubbing the leather surfaces. Make sure you get tongue and all of the crevices.
Step 4: Use a clean rag damp with water to wipe the soap away
Take a clean rag and soak it in water (no soap). While the soap is great for removing stains and stubborn build up, it can actually damage the leather if it’s not fully removed. We recommend that you wipe them down with the damp rag twice for good measure.
Step 5: Condition the leather with Mink oil
After they have been washed, it’s important to condition the leather so it doesn’t dry out and crack. Mink oil will soften, rehydrate, and prolong the life of leather so you can get more use out of your footwear.
Step 6: Let them dry overnight
Once the Mink oil has been applied, allow the boots to dry naturally overnight. Don’t do anything to speed up this process (such as using a blow dryer or direct sunlight) because you can run the risk of causing the leather to crack.
Allowing drying time is an important step in how to clean work boots for the mink oil. Now you can enjoy your clean leather work boots!
Optional Extra Steps
For those of you that are looking for a few more steps to clean work boots, you can use the below optional tips to ensure your footwear is handled on all fronts.
If you face wet conditions on the job, your boots need to be waterproof. While you probably already know that (and may even have waterproof boots), actual water resistant coating can wear down over time and become less effective.
There’s no better time to re-apply a healthy layer of waterproofing than after you just cleaned your boots. Whether you use a spray or other product of your choosing, we recommend that you reinforce the protection each time you clean.
Read our full guide on how to waterproof boots here
It doesn’t matter how clean you are, your boots will pick up a bad odor over time. If your boots have removable insoles, give them a wash while you’re cleaning. Another great way to control bad odors is by tossing some baking powder in (pound it out before wearing them again) or using anti-bacterial sprays.
Why It's Important to Scrub Your Footwear
Now that you know how to clean leather work boots, it’s important to adopt a regular schedule of scrubbing your footwear. Whether you want to do it every other week or whatever time frame you decide works best, staying on top of the cleaning will make sure your boots will remain durable and clean.
From dusting away debris, scrubbing with soap, to wiping them dry, always remember to follow each step in order. That may sound like silly advice but it will ensure your footwear is properly taken care of and damage free.