How To clean Work Boots

How to Clean Work Boots: A Comprehensive Guide

Black Leather Boot
How to clean work boots

There have been times when I look down at my black work boots after a long day and think to myself “Man, I have to clean these”.

When it comes to maintaining the longevity and performance of your work boots, especially tactical boots, a thorough cleaning and care routine is important. I understand how vital your work boots are in providing comfort, protection, and support throughout your workday. That’s why I’ve compiled this guide, packed with professional insights and practical tips, to help you preserve those boots we rely on.

How to Clean Work Boots

Excess dirt on work boots
Disheveled/stained work boots

Learning how to clean work boots can be an annoying thought for many many of us. Work boots come in different colors, materials, and styles. The two most common materials are leather boots and rubber boots.

Some boots are designed to go about 3 inches higher than your ankle, while other boots are designed to sit right about where your ankles are.

The Importance of Work Boot Maintenance

As with most products we own, continuous care usually prolongs the life of the product. And because our work boots are used often and are put in the most demanding environments, continuous care is even more important.

A well-maintained pair of boots not only lasts longer but also offers enhanced protection and comfort. In this guide, I will walk you through the essential steps and best practices to clean, care for, and extend the life of your work boots.

Cleaning Your Work Boots

The basic supplies you will need are a horsehair brush, a soft cloth, basic soap and access to water. If you are concerned which soap to use, do not overthink it. You can use basic dish soap to get the job done. You will not be using much soap, so its not something that you need to be concerned with.

Removing Dirt and Debris

Before we get into the optional deep cleaning process, it’s important to remove any surface dirt, mud, or debris. You can use a soft-bristled brush (such as a simple horsehair brush) to gently scrub away the grime. For stubborn dirt, a damp soft cloth or a hose can be used, but ensure you dry the boots thoroughly afterward.

Deep Cleaning

Once the surface dirt is removed, it’s time for a more thorough cleaning. You can use a specialized boot cleaner or a mild soap with water. Apply the cleaning solution or soap with a brush, working it into the boot in a circular motion. Make sure to clean the welts and seams as dirt accumulated in these areas can lead to deterioration.

Dealing with Stains and Odors

More time and attention is necessary to remove stains. Depending on the type of stain, you may need a specific cleaner. However, some stains can be cleaned using household products. Baking soda and water can work wonders on oil stains, while a vinegar solution can help with salt stains. If your boots have an unpleasant odor, consider using an antimicrobial spray will help. Many of my co-workers would spray antimicrobial spray inside their boots at the end of every shift.

Drying Your Work Boots

Boots hang drying
Boots hanging to dry.

After cleaning, it’s important to dry your boots correctly to prevent damage. Avoid direct heat sources like a radiator or hair dryers, as these can cause the leather boots to crack due to the excessive heat the use. Instead, let them air dry at room temperature.

If you have a generic fan, place your boots in front of a fan and allow the air to hit them. It’s also recommended to give your boots several hours to dry before using them again. Try to only deep clean your boots at the end of your work week so that they will have time to dry.

Protecting and Polishing Your Work Boots

Boot polish kit
Boot polish kit

Its not only important to clean your work boots, but it’s also import to preserve them so you don’t have to constantly spend money on new ones.

Polishing your boots is one simply way to preserve the surface of your boots.

Applying a Protective Coating

To protect your boots from water and other elements, apply a waterproofing agent or leather protector. Ensure the product is suitable for your boot material and follow the application instructions for that product

How to Shine Your Work Boots

For those looking to add an extra touch of class to their boots, polishing is key. Use a boot polish that matches your boot color, apply it in circular motions, and buff to a shine. This not only enhances the appearance but also adds an additional layer of protection.

To shine my boots I have always used “Kiwi Parade Gloss”, which is affordable. However, I know many people who use different products that work just as good.


As someone who has worked in the field for about half a decade, I am very experienced with cleaning my boots. I also understand how often we can put the task off, because how tedious the task can be. Caring for your work boots is a commitment that pays off in the long run, ensuring they continue to offer the protection, comfort, and support you rely on every day.

Remember, your work boots are an investment, and with the right care, they will serve you faithfully through countless challenging days.

Editorial Note: We may earn a commission when you visit links on my website. This does not affect Mike’s opinions or evaluations.

FAQ Section

How often should I clean my work boots?

The frequency depends on your work environment, but a general guideline is to clean them when they appear dirty or at least once a month.

How do I remove oil stains from my work boots?

A paste made from baking soda and water can be effective in removing oil stains.

Can I dry my work boots in the sun?

No, direct sunlight can cause the leather boots to crack. Let them air dry at room temperature instead.

How do I know if my work boots are fully dried?

The leather boots should feel dry to the touch, and there should be no dampness inside the boot.

What type of brush should I use to clean my work boots?

A soft-bristled brush (such as horsehair) is ideal to avoid scratching the leather boots.

Can I use a waterproofing agent on suede work boots?

Yes, but ensure the product is specifically designed for suede material.

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