How To Wash Boots

When you wear your boots, they can quickly become dirty. One of the worst things you can do to newly bought boots is to wear them on a muddy walk.

Cleaning these boots can be an absolute nightmare and it can seem impossible to return them to the state that they originally were. 

Fortunately, there is a solution. Though cleaning your boots can be hard work, it is worth it when you see the end product.

To help keep your boots spick-and-span, we have created a detailed set of instructions for you to follow when washing boots. 


Most of these items can be obtained simply. Some will be less accessible, though they can all be bought online. 

For Leather

  • Water – used to dampen the cloth.
  • A cloth – this will be used to apply the leather cleaner onto your boots. 
  • Gloves – as a safety measure, I highly recommend wearing gloves. You should definitely do this if your skin is sensitive or prone to irritation.
  • A soft-bristled brush – you do not want to be too harsh on your boots. Consequently, a soft-bristled brush will be the best choice. The brush will be used to get rid of the initial dirt.
  • A dry cloth – this will be used at the end of the cleaning process in order to dry the boots. 
  • Leather cleaning solution – though soapy water can be used to clean boots, a leather cleaning solution will be better. This is because it has been specifically designed to target dirty leather. Most of these solutions are in spray or pouring forms. However, you can also buy leather cleaning soaps. All of these products can be purchased online. If you are struggling to find a high-quality leather cleaner, follow this link.

For Suede

  • Suede brush – this is a brush that has been specifically constructed to clean suede, specifically suede shoes or boots. 
  • Suede eraser – a suede rubber or eraser will be crucial to removing deep scuffs. If you are struggling to find these items, they can be located online. In fact, you can buy specialized suede cleaning kits. I have included a link to an excellent example here.
  • Suede protector – spraying this onto your shoes is another layer of defense against stains and wet weather. 


Boots can be made from lots of different materials. The material will impact the cleaning method. You should be able to find this information easily, as it should be featured on the label inside of your boot.

If not, you can also look online and in product descriptions. Traditionally, boots are made from leather. They are also commonly made from suede. 

Because of this, my instructions are based on leather boots. However, the general principles can be applied to boots made from other materials.

To help you further, I have also included a section on cleaning suede shoes. Though suede and leather both come from animal skins, they require different cleaning treatments. 

How To Clean Leather Boots

  1. Remove the laces from your boots and put them to one side. If they are unclean, wash them separately from the boots. 
  2. Put your gloves on. 
  3. Using a brush, get rid of any dirt or dried mud. This will leave you with a good base from which your cleaning can begin. 
  4. Next, pour some of the leather cleaner onto a dampened cloth. Thoroughly, rub the cloth against the boots. Be sure to go over its entirety, including cleaning underneath any flaps. If your leather cleaner is in a soap form, simply rub the damp cloth against it and then begin rubbing the shoe. We recommend reading the instructions on the packaging of your leather cleaner before using it. Do not use an excessive amount of leather cleaner, as you will only require a small amount. 
  5. After you have completely cleaned your boots, rub them with a dry cloth. This will remove any excess leather cleaner or first that you may have missed. 
  6. Leave your boots to dry. 
  7. Polish your boots. This will make your boots look shiny and sophisticated. Not only will this enhance the appearance of your shoes, but they will likely be healthier after this.

How To Clean Suede Boots

  1. Check that your boots are completely dry. Trust me, trying to clean wet or damp suede boots will not be pleasant. 
  2. Begin cleaning your boots with a suede brush. Like the soft-bristled brush used for leather, this will get rid of some of the mud or grit on your boots. 
  3. Gently rub this suede brush against your shoes in the direction of the grain. After this step, you should already be able to notice an improvement. 
  4. Next, use the suede rubber for stains and scuffs that are harder to remove. Rub this eraser against these hard-to-lift stains. If you are unable to obtain a suede rubber, feel free to try a regular pencil eraser. These tend to be much easier to acquire.
  5. If there are still stains that you simply cannot remove, try using rubbing alcohol or a white vinegar solution. Do not use a large amount of either substance, as dampening the suede too much can damage it. Both cleaning substances may temporarily alter the color of your suede boots, so bear this in mind as you are cleaning. 
  6. Spray a suede protector onto your boots to prevent these stains from occurring again. 
  7. Leave the boots to dry. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do My Boots Smell Really Unpleasant?

Bad-smelling boots can be caused by numerous factors. For example, you may have stepped in something that smelled bad or this may have been caused by your sweat.

To prevent your shoes from becoming dirty, we suggest washing your boots regularly. If you believe it has been caused by continuous perspiration, you should also clean the inside of the boot.

How Frequently Should I Clean My Boots?

The answer to this question will be reliant on what kind of lifestyle you lead. If you often walk through muddy environments, it is advised that you clean your boots regularly.

If this is the case, we recommend using some form of protector on your boots. Otherwise, we advise doing so approximately once a month. Having a regular cleaning schedule will prevent dirt from building up on your boots.