How To Clean Work Boots – 8 Useful Tips

You work boots must have set you back a good amount of money when you bought them. That is why you need to know how to clean work boots. You want them to last as long as possible, in prime condition.

You know what they say about a man and his car; that if you take care of your car it will take care of you? The same applies to your best work boots. If you take good care of them, they will take good care of your feet.

Work boots take quite a beating on the factory floor, in the field, garage or even in your basement or home workshop. Without good care, they will wear out fast. When you learn how to clean your work boots, you can make them last a long time.

Cleaning your work boots thoroughly requires you to set aside enough time. Everything else is so easy to do, including the preparation, and the cleaning itself.

For the sake of clarity, in this article, we will mostly major on how to clean leather work boots. Here are 8 tips to help you do a perfect job:

1. Know your type of work boots

This is in regard to the materials. Different types of work boots require different cleaning procedures. Many work boots are made of leather, but there are different types of leather. This article on how to clean work boots teaches you how to clean all leather boots.

Let us look at two of the most common types of leather work boots, just so you can understand what we are talking about:

Grain leather work boots

Grain leather work boots come in two types – Full grain leather and top grain leather. Just what are they?

Full grain leather boots:  As its name suggests, the top layer is made with leather that has not been buffed down or polished to hide imperfections. Work boots such as Harley-Davidson Bosworth Men’s work boot, which you can buy on are made of full grain leather.

Top grain leather work boots: It is easy to confuse top grain leather with full grain leather for they are not worlds apart, but they are different. Top grain leather means that the top leather layer has been dressed to hide any imperfections. Because most of the top grain leather is sanded, this makes it weaker, so such boots may be cheaper. The Timberland PRO Men’s Resistor that you can buy on Amazon is a good example of a top grain leather boot.

Suede or nubuck work boots

Suede or nubuck work boots can be cleaned in the same way. It is hard to find a work boot that is all-suede. Some boots do have suede parts, and so it is important to learn how to clean them.

Let’s just say that leather boots take a lot more cleaning than nubuck or suede boots. the leather needs reconditioning. Suede just requires water and soap, that’s it! It is much simpler to clean than leather.

Back to how to clean leather work boots now …

2. Preparing your work boots for cleaning

Gather everything that you will need. This includes items such as:

  • Water, mild soap and/or shampoo
  • Soft and hard-bristled brushes
  • Dry pieces of cloth
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Cream of tartar
  • Mink oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Talcum powder
  • A big basin
  • A blunt stick
  • Polish

Remove the laces, unless these are slip-on or pull-on work boots. You will have to clean the laces separately. You should also remove the insoles, keep them aside.

3. Getting dried mud off your work boots

If your boots have mud stuck on them, let it dry up completely. Dry mud is easy to get off leather boots since you just have to beat them against each other and it peels off. However, if the pair of work boots has cloth or suede parts, mud can get really sticky. It will take much more work to get it off.

image of how to clean work boots

Getting mud off the soles will require more energy, since it will have been compressed over time. Remember, the soles carry all of your weight and since the work boots have treads, mud gets quite sticky and simply hitting them against each other will not get everything off.

You may improvise when it comes to the soles. Use a small stick to peel off the mud. You may even use a small, blunt screwdriver to pry the stubborn mud out. If that is not your cup of tea, soak the soles in a shallow basin and wait for the mud to get soggy and fall out of the treads.

4. How to clean the soles of your work boots

Work boots have either rubber or synthetic soles. The cleaning procedure is the same. Just use ordinary kitchen soap and water.

You may use a stiff brush to scrub the soles completely free of dirt. Clean the treads and the spaces between them. Make sure there are no pebbles lodged in between.

When you have cleaned the soles to your satisfaction, air-dry them. This can take some time, but be careful not to blow-dry them since heat can cause warping.

5. Cleaning water stains off your work boots

Spills happen all the time at the workplace and your work boots are the first victim. Thus, you cannot say you know how to clean work boots if you do not know how to remove the stains.

Use lemon and cream of tartar paste to remove big darkish stains. Just apply the paste to the stain, let it stay for a few minutes and then clean it out. It should have soaked the stain clean by then.

If the stain still proves stubborn after that, you may use rubbing alcohol to remove it. Just dab a little of this alcohol into one dry cloth and rub it on the stain. White vinegar is also very good for stubborn stains, especially if they are from road salt.

For small stains, try removing them with water first, just plain water. If they are water stains, they will come off easily.

6. How to clean grease and oil stains

Grease and oil stains require special attention. If you work in an automotive workshop or garage, you will need to know how to clean work boots free of oil or grease. It is not hard at all. You just need time.

You need an absorbent powder such as talcum. Apply it on the oil or grease stain and let it stay for several hours. When you brush the boot to remove the powder, you will realize the stain will have come off.

7. How to clean work boots inside

Because of the enclosed design of the workplace safety shoes, knowing how to clean work boots inside is paramount. Definitely, there will be some stink, especially after those long days on your feet. Sweaty feet can also create an environment for bacteria to thrive.

Odor elimination – how to clean work boots

If you want to eliminate odor, deal with it first. Remove the insoles and then add a handful of baking soda to a pair of socks. Tie the socks up on the open end and place each in its boot. Let the boots stay overnight or over several hours and when you get the socks out, the odor should have gone. You can then commence cleaning the work boots with water and soap.

Remove the insoles. Clean them in the washing machine. You may also clean them by hand if you want and then air-dry them.

Cleaning inside with soap

To clean the inside of the work boots, you have to dip them in water. You can use your basin or the sink. It is recommended that you use mild shampoo, just a few drops in each boot, quarter-fill it with cold water and then commence cleaning it with a piece of cloth. If you do not have mild or baby shampoo, do not sweat it. Just use your organic dish soap or detergent. It should work just fine.

When you have soap-cleaned the interior of the boots, pour out the dirty water, and fill the boots with clean cold water to rinse them thoroughly. If need be, do, this a couple of times to ensure there are no traces of soap left. You may then hang your boots to air-dry, soles up.

Something to note: Hot water is not good for leather. Hot air, such as you would get from a hair dryer is also not good for leather. This is why you should use cold water and then air-dry your boots.

8. How to condition your leather boots

Conditioning is the culmination of a good work boot cleaning process. If you have suede and nubuck boots, you do not need to worry about conditioning them. This is for the leather boots. You will need mink oil and a clean piece of cloth. Apply the oil on the boot (exterior), after it is dry!

Image for how to clean leather work boots

After conditioning the boots, polish them. It will make your boots look nice. To do that, use the recommended polish, apply it with a piece of cloth and then buff with a soft brush.

If you have a weatherproofing product, spray it on the work boots thoroughly. It will help make your boots even more waterproof.


That is it for the process of how to clean work boots. We have talked about cleaning leather work boots. It is simple, but it requires time. Perhaps you can clean them each weekend. Doing that prolongs their life. If you are a responsible worker, the first responsibility is to your person and this includes giving your personal gear good care.