Many people tend to prioritise durability when buying new work boots, which is why it is easy to neglect them until signs of wear begin to appear.
However, with proper care and maintenance, work boots can last longer, look cleaner, and be more comfortable to wear.
This blog gives you the steps and other tips on how to clean work boots to keep your pair in tip-top condition.
What Do You Need?
First, you should prepare the following cleaning supplies:
- A soft brush or a toothbrush
- Mild dish soap
- Warm water
- Sponge or a soft cloth
If you have a cleaning product that’s specially formulated for work boots, you can use it instead of mild dish soap.
The cleaning method may slightly deviate, depending on the type of footwear you have, especially the material.
For example, you might also need the following:
- Leather conditioner for leather work boots
- Waterproofing spray for boots exposed to muddy and moisture-prone environments
- Shoe polish for maintaining the appearance of leather boots
How to Clean Work Boots
With all the necessary supplies ready, it’s time to start cleaning. Here are the steps that you can easily follow:
1. Remove Loose Dirt and Debris
Tap the boots together to help remove loose dirt and debris. Hold one boot in each hand and gently tap the soles and sides together, effectively dislodging loose dirt. Alternatively, you can use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to remove surface dirt. It’s best to do this task in an outdoor area to prevent debris from scattering inside the house.
2. Remove the Laces and Insoles
Remove the laces if your boots come with them. Do the same with the insoles. You can clean them separately by hand-washing. If the laces are worn, you should replace them with new ones.
3. Brush Off Dirt
Brush off dirt. With the laces and insoles removed, clean the work boots again using a soft brush. Scrub the surface as gently as possible to eliminate excess dirt.
4. Mix Dish Soap in Warm Water
This will be your cleaning solution if you do not have a specialised boot cleaner ready. Ensure you stay away from harsh chemicals, which can quickly damage your boots, especially if they are made from leather.
5. Scrub with a Sponge or Cloth
Get a sponge or soft cloth and dip it into the cleaning solution. Now, scrub or spot-clean the boots, paying special attention to soiled or stained areas. Be extra gentle if you have leather boots, as some scrubbing can easily damage the material.
6. Rinse Boots Thoroughly
Rinse the boots as thoroughly as possible. Use clean water and keep rinsing repeatedly until the water is clear or free of soap residue. If the shoes are not waterproof, you can still rinse them, but be careful not to soak them in water.
7. Leave to Air-Dry
Allow to air-dry naturally. Don’t expose the boots to heat, such as putting them near or on top of radiators. Direct exposure to sunlight will also damage the boots, especially leather work boots. Since drying can take up to several hours to a whole day, the boots can lose shape, depending on how you hang them to dry. A solution is to stuff them with newspaper or any similar material, which can aid in the footwear retaining their shape.
If you’re looking for an even more thorough, long-lasting clean, consider these optional steps:
- Apply Leather Conditioner: This product should be a part of your periodic boot maintenance routine. It helps keep leather boots supple so they do not dry out. The conditioner extends their lifespan so they do not crack, become stiff, or lose their natural sheen quickly. We recommend applying the conditioner after cleaning the boots, mainly if you use water or mild soap, which can strip the leather’s natural oils. Follow the product instructions, which typically involve spreading the conditioner in small amounts as evenly as possible. Wipe off excess product and buff to a shine using a small cloth.
- Apply Waterproofing Spray: Apply to clean and dry boots evenly, ensuring that you sprayed the seams and stitching. Repeat the procedure whenever necessary, which is usually before exposing the boots to wet conditions. Leave them to dry before wearing them again.
- Apply Shoe Polish: Restore your boots’ shine and appearance whilst also adding a protective layer with shoe polish. Apply after cleaning and conditioning your work boots using a cloth or applicator. Buff to a shine using a different brush or cloth. Make sure you use shoe polish the same colour as your boots.
What about how to wash work boots? The quick answer is you don’t. Instead, follow the steps above, and you’ll be good to go.
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