7 Handy Tips For How To Clean Leather Work Boots

Everyone loves leather. It’s a durable material that looks great, and leather boots come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. They have been the go-to option for footwear for millennia, offering high-quality, comfort, and style to those choosing to wear them.

Owning a pair of leather work boots is an investment in time and money. They don’t come cheap, though, and making sure they last a long time will save you in the long run.

Many boot owners may not know how to clean leather work boots. Even those who’ve worn them for years on their jobs may not have given it too much thought or worry.

Knowing how to clean leather work boots will allow you to save and preserve the boots at little cost. The process for cleaning boots is fairly simple, and once you do it enough, it will become second nature to you.

You’ll eventually not worry about how to clean leather work boots. Some products you’ll be able to use are household items. There are other items you will need to make sure you purchase and keep in stock.

The money spent on those items is well worth preserving your boots.

When Should You Clean Leather Work Boots?

When Should You Clean Leather Work Boots

Besides knowing how to clean leather work boots, the basic question is when to do it. The simplest answer would be to clean them any time they get dirty.

This may not be the easiest thing to do, depending on what you’re doing and if you’ve brought along the necessary items for cleaning the boots.

A good rule of thumb would be to clean them as soon as you can, because the longer you let the dirt and grime stay on the boots, the harder it will be to clean them.

You may end up having boots that don’t look like they did when you bought them. Some have recommended you need to clean your boots every month.

How to Clean Leather Work Boots:

You can care for your leather boots in four steps: cleaning, conditioning, polishing, and waterproofing. Knowing where to start can cut out a lot of the confusion on how to clean leather work boots.

Realizing that different types of stains will have to be dealt with in different ways is key to making sure you’re taking care of your boots.

Offered here are a few guides to show you how to clean your leather work boots in the best way possible.

1. Basic Cleaning Steps

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  1. Start with removing the laces, and if they can be washed go ahead and do so.
  2. No matter what the boots are covered in, the next step is to brush the shoes; a brush made of horsehair or another type of stiff brush will do the trick. This will help get rid of the excess dirt and debris.
  3. Use a leather cleaner and a soft cloth to clean the boots. Let them dry.
  4. Use leather conditioner. Depending on what type of leather boot you have, use your fingers or a cloth to make sure every crevice and section is covered.
  5. You can use a soft dry cloth to help with rubbing it in, always using a circular buffing motion.
  6. Waterproof your boots with the product of your choice.

2. Boots With Grease Stains

  1. Take a cloth, preferably a microfiber cloth, and gently blot the stained area. This will help remove some of the excess grease.
  2. Take talcum powder or any other absorbent powder and sprinkle the area, covering it completely.
  3. Let the powder set on the boot overnight. This will allow it to draw out the grease from the leather.
  4. Take a brush and gently brush the powder off. You should see that the grease stain is now gone.

3. Dealing With Scuffs on the Boots

Scuffs can occur at any time, but don’t worry: here are the instructions for how to clean leather work boots with scuff marks on them.

  1. Take a soft cloth and first dip it in water and then into baking soda.
  2. Take the cloth and gently rub over the scuffed up area.
  3. Take a clean damp cloth and wipe the area down.
  4. Use a soft, dry cloth to gently buff the boots.

4. Dealing With Salt Stains

Salt is very harsh and destructive to leather. Ideally, you will always want to wipe your shoes down with a wet cloth if possible each time your boots are exposed to salty conditions. There are a few simple steps on how to clean leather work boots that have come into contact with salt:

  1. Make a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.
  2. Take a soft cloth, dip it in the mixture, and then gently wipe your boots down.
  3. Let them air dry.
  4. Once they are dry, take a soft dry cloth and use it to buff out the boots.
Dealing With Salt Stains

If you prefer not to use vinegar, you have the option of using saddle soap. It’s just as effective as vinegar and won’t hurt your boots.

  1. Use a soaked, but not dripping, cloth to rub the saddle soap and then use it to gently rub the boot.
  2. Keep rubbing gently until there’s a lather; let the lather sit on the boot for a few minutes.
  3. Take a clean moistened cloth to wipe the boots down.
  4. Use a second moistened cloth to make sure all the lather is removed.
  5. Use a soft, dry cloth to gently buff the boots.
  6. Let the boots air dry.

5. Unidentified or Other Stains

This can be food, drink, or any other stain you can’t identify or are unsure about how it got on your boots.

  1. Create a mixture of equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar; it will be close to a paste-like substance.
  2. Use a soft cloth to apply the mixture to the stain, gently rubbing it in.
  3. Take a soft damp cloth and wipe the mixture off the boot.
  4. Let the boots dry.
  5. Use a soft, dry cloth to gently buff the boots.

6. Cleaning the Inside of Your Boots

If you wear your boots a lot, none of this meticulous care of your boots will impress people if those boots have an odor to them.

It can happen to any pair of work boots, but the trick is to understand how to clean leather work boots on the inside.

  1. Take about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vinegar and put it in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the inside of your boots with the vinegar.
  3. Let the boots completely dry. It might take a few days for this to happen.
  4. Once dry, take baking soda and put a healthy amount in the boots and leave it there overnight,
  5. Shake to remove the baking soda, and your boots should be nice and fresh.

7 Best Tips for Cleaning Your Leather Work Boots

1. Waterproof the Boots

When you purchase your boots, waterproof them before their first use. You must let them air dry overnight before wearing them. Waterproofing doesn’t last forever no matter which product you use.

Test them at least once a month, and if the water no longer beads up, then it’s time to waterproof them again.

Though waterproofing isn’t actually a way to clean the boots, it’s important to do this step after cleaning your boots.

2. Have Cleaning Items Available

It’s great if you have the basic items available to you, such as clean rags, a shoe brush, leather soap, and leather conditioner.

This will allow you to easily begin the cleaning process no matter what has gotten on your boots. You will be less tempted to put off cleaning, making it easier on yourself by saving time and effort.

The best way would be to create a kit with all the essential cleaning items so that all you would have to look for is vinegar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar, if those are needed.

3. Clean the Boots Regularly

This can be easily done if you keep cleaning items with you or somewhere easily accessible. Don’t let the dirt and grime build up.

Give your boots a brush at least once a week, and this will cut down on the time it will take when you do this step before cleaning the boots.

4. Remove the Laces Before Cleaning

If your work boots have laces, before cleaning you’ll need to take them off the boot and either wash them or replace them.

Dirty laces won’t look good on a freshly washed boot, and this will also keep the laces from getting your freshly cleaned boots dirty again.

5. Use Leather Conditioner

Using a specialized leather condition every 1-3 months will help with keeping the moisture level of the leather up, and this can help prevent cracks.

The boots will look great and using conditioner will go a long way towards minimizing the need to purchase and break in new boots.

6. Don’t Forget the Inside of Your Boots

Though you’ve mastered how to clean leather work boots, don’t forget about the inside. You’ve worked hard on making them look great and removing stains, etc., so make sure those nice looking boots don’t have an odor and are comfortable inside.

7. Air-Dry the Boots

Don’t use dry heat to dry out your boots. This will cause the boots to crack or cause other damage to your boots. Simply set them somewhere out of the sunlight and away from any heat source.

You’ll need to let them air dry after cleaning or whenever they get wet. Don’t forget to stuff them with paper to help with keeping their shape after being wet; or if you have a shoe tree that will work even better.

The boots will take at least 24 hours to dry, so don’t forget to check before you decide to wear them.


Your leather work boots help keep you warm, dry and comfortable and are one of the most durable pieces of footwear you can own.

Taking the time to learn how to take care of leather work boots is as important as the time it took for you to choose the right pair of boots for your needs.

If you will clean them on a regular basis, such as about once a month, they will last a long time and never let you down.

Last update on 2022-02-03 at 04:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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