How To Clean Work Boots Without Ruining Them?


No matter how expensive or high-quality your work boots are, they will eventually need to be cleaned. While it’s true that the advancement of technology (based on work boot safety standards) has led to the creation of so many new and unique features in work boots, they are still susceptible to wear and tear and destruction.

This means looking after work boots in order to add more years to the work boots’ life is something that you should be doing, right?

But cleaning is never fun. How many times have you decided to clean your work boots and then entirely dismissed the idea? But if you do decide to clean them, do you know how to clean work boots?

You can’t just clean and wash them without knowing the proper way to do so. Otherwise, you will cause more damage to your work boots than the wear and tear ever will.

How to clean work boots

How to Treat Work Boots the Right Way?

This is more like a pre-guide to how to care for leather work boots. We’re all super lazy when it comes to cleaning boots. So the best way to make sure that we don’t have to clean work boots very often is to treat them the right way.

This definitely doesn’t require you to go out of your way and take some time off your busy schedule to always clean them.

All you have to do is keep these little pointers in mind and since they are not at all time-consuming, you can easily try your best to practice them more often.

  • Work boots that are covered with grime will not need to be scrubbed and thoroughly cleaned very often if you just rinse them daily. Rinsing dirt and mud off your work boots daily is a very effective way of ensuring that they don’t get damaged due to rotting.
  • Thoroughly cleaning your work boots is not something that you need to do very often, just once a month is absolutely fine.
  • ​Waterproofing your work boots can go a long way. You should make it a habit to waterproof your work boots every time after cleaning them, especially if they are exposed to water very often. You can simply apply any waterproofing wax, cream, or spray once or twice a month. It depends on how often your work boots are exposed to water.
  • ​In order to learn how to care for leather work boots, you must know that they need to be stored in a dry and well-ventilated area.
  • Once you start noticing some wear and tear like cracking in your work boots, it’s time to apply some conditioning oil. This helps in keeping your work boots in good shape, while also increasing their durability.

Note: If you don’t clean your work boots very often, it is highly advisable to not wear them inside the house. Here’s why.

The List of Supplies you Will Need for Leather Work Boots:

  • Leather cleaner
  • 3 pieces of soft cloth
  • ​Mink oil
  • ​Leather polish
  • Waterproof protectant for leather (waterproofing wax, cream, or spray)

The List of Supplies you Will Need for Suede or Nubuck Work Boots:

  • Shoe cleaning brush
  • Boot sealer
  • Waterproof protectant for suede or nubuck (waterproofing wax, cream, or spray)

The List of Supplies you Will Need if You Want to Learn How to Wash Work Boots:

  • A washing machine (obviously!)
  • Washing detergent
  • Toothbrush

How to Clean Leather Work Boots?

How to clean work boots

Many people opt for leather work boots, mainly because the material is very strong and sturdy. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. Nothing lasts forever, right? I’m sure you must have heard that one. Anyway, my point is that even a material as tough as leather needs to be cared for in order to last longer.

In fact, leather needs some extra and special care to remain in good condition no matter what. (here’s why you should condition leather boots)

So if you want to clean work boots made of genuine leather, here is a very simple procedure to get you started.

1. Start With the Leather Cleaner

Apply some leather cleaner to your work boots. And then take a soft cloth and gently wipe all the dirt on the boots. If there is some excess cleaner on the work boots, then wipe that off too.

2. Use the Mink Oil

After cleaning your work boots with leather cleaner, you should know how to oil work boots. Apply some mink oil using another fresh soft cloth. Make sure that you clean the seams of the boot as well.

After applying mink oil, use another clean, dry cloth to wipe off the oil from the boots. Again, make sure that you properly wipe the seams of the boot as well. Please remember that your work boots need to be in a dry condition when you’re carrying out this step. Knowing how to oil work boots properly can go a long way in keeping them in good shape for a very long time.

3. Apply the Polish

Once you’re done with the mink oil application, it’s time to bring in the polish. Apply it on your work boots in a circular motion. This is done so that the mink oil gets locked in the fibers found in the work boots.

4. Waterproof your Work Boots

This is the last and final step in this guide of how to clean work boots made of leather. It is very important to apply a waterproof protectant. You can use waterproof wax, cream, or spray. What all three do is add more waterproofing ability to your work boots. For those who expose their work boots to water on a daily basis, applying a waterproof protectant is highly crucial in extending their lifespan.

How to Waterproof your Boots and Shoes​?

The most effective way to test a boot’s waterproofing ability is to spray some water on it after applying the waterproof protectant on the boot. If the water droplets easily roll off the boot instead of getting soaked into it, it means that your work boots have achieved maximum waterproofing ability.

How to Care for Leather - Cleaning and Conditioning Work Boots? (Secret Tip Revealed)

How to Clean Work Boots? – Suede or Nubuck

Cleaning work boots made of suede or nubuck have a totally different approach altogether. Unlike leather material, suede and nubuck have the tendency to get stained and damaged more often. That only makes sense because we all know that leather is a comparatively tougher material than suede and nubuck. But it doesn’t matter, as long as you know how to clean work boots made of suede or nubuck.

1. Remove the Dirt

The only way to remove all the debris and dirt found on your work boots made of suede or nubuck is to use a brush. Gently scrub your work boots to get rid of all the dirt that is stuck on them.

How to clean work boots

2. Use a Sealer

In order to protect the outer skin or material of your work boots, it is very important and highly recommended to always apply a sealer. Spread it out evenly all over the boots and make sure that you don’t leave any spot uncovered.

3. Waterproof your Work Boots

Before I talk about waterproofing your work boots made of suede or nubuck, you should know that there are two types of boot cleaning products. One is solely manufactured for leather boots while the other is created strictly for suede or nubuck boots. So please avoid using leather boot cleaning products on materials like suede or nubuck. That messes with the two materials’ quality and durability.

Now the final step, waterproofing your work boots, requires you to use a waterproof protectant or solution made for suede or nubuck boots. Simply apply the solution on your work boots, test their waterproofing ability and you’re good to go!

Why you should waterproof your shoes?

Before I end this section, I want you to know a few things about suede and these kinds of boots in general. Since suede is more susceptible to stains, you should know how to get rid of these stains.

If the stain is mild, then simply use a basic cleaner to get rid of it. But if it’s a deep stain, you will need to make use of fine sandpaper. Rub the stained area with sandpaper in a circular motion. Please do this very gently or you might end up damaging the material.

Shoe Care: How to Clean Suede Shoes?

In order to prevent boot degradation, it is very important for you to regularly remove all the debris and dirt stuck to your work boots. Cleaning them frequently will increase your work boots’ durability. But if you don’t give them enough attention, all the debris and dirt will enter the fibers of the boot and this is exactly what causes boot degradation.

How to Wash Work Boots in the Washing Machine?

How to clean work boots


Sometimes just cleaning your work boots with cleaner and mink oil doesn’t really make such a big difference in getting rid of all the dirt and smell. Does this sound familiar to you? If yes, then you need to know how to wash work boots because that’s the only way you can get rid of the stink. When work boots start to smell, it means they’re really dirty.

So if you want to learn how to clean work boots thoroughly, then washing them is very important. (You can also read about how to get rid of shoe odor using homemade remedies)

10 Ways to Stop Shoe Odor!

Let’s learn how to wash work boots in the washing machine:

1. The First Step

Always remember to take off the shoestrings before washing your work boots.

2. Use the Detergent and Toothbrush

Add some detergent in the washing machine and keep a wet toothbrush ready before you place the boots inside the machine. You can use this wet toothbrush to gently scrub off the debris and dirt stuck on your work boots at any time of the washing cycle.

The amount of detergent that you use should be kept in check as too much detergent tends to damage work boots.

3. Fill Water in the Washing Machine

The temperature of the water should be either cold or warm but never too hot.

4. Bring in Your Work Boots

Put your work boots in the washing machine in such a way that they are placed together if you’re using a front washer. While in a top loading washer, make sure that they are on opposite sides. And then wash your work boots for only 10 minutes.

5. The Final Step

Once the washing is complete, please don’t make the mistake of turning on the dryer. Work boots, whether made of leather, suede or nubuck, will not look and feel like work boots anymore if you put them to dry or “die” in the dryer. After washing them, place them in an open and dry space under the sun.


Once you know how to clean work boots in a proper manner, you can always keep them clean and well maintained no matter how dirty they are. Because when looked after thoroughly, clean work boots have the ability to last longer than you can possibly imagine.

Since leather is the most common and preferred material when it comes to work boots, I have explained how to care for leather work boots in detail. Leather work boots don’t come cheap, you know that right? So isn’t it better if you turn this huge investment into a logical one as well simply by learning how to clean leather work boots? (what is the actual lifespan of normal work boots?)

Did you find what you were looking for in this article? What is it that you use to clean your work boots and how often do you clean them?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment below. And please share the article if you think it was worth your time.

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Lamont Ly

My name is Lamont Ly and I have spent the countless number of hours researching and studying the best solutions for foot care related problems. My goal is to save your time as well as money by offering all the assistance backed by relevant and reliable information so that the health of your feet is not compromised in any way.

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