Boots are an essential part of your work attire, but they can take a beating. It’s important to know how to restore them so that you always have the right pair for any occasion.
A few simple steps make all the difference when it comes to maintaining your work boots. Here at , we’re constantly doing research and testing out new methods, so we’ve compiled our favorite ways of cleaning up those dirty shoes without damaging their materials or construction.
Whether you prefer DIY methods like baking soda paste or store-bought products like mink oil, there are plenty of options available for rejuvenating your footwear quickly and effectively.
They keep you safe on the job site and make it easier for you to do your job. But overtime, they can take a beating. You may not think about them until they start showing signs of wear or if something goes wrong with them while at work. When that happens, it is important to have a plan in place so that you know what to do next time this happens again.
Brush your boots off with a wire brush to remove any dirt
Brush your boots off with a wire brush to remove dirt and debris.
Use a dry cloth or old tea towel to wipe the surface of your shoe and then use a damp cloth (preferably warm water) and sponge to clean the entire shoe’s exterior including the laces if desired. Brush your boots off with a wire brush.
This removes any dirt you missed with the first step, as well as loosens any caked-on mud or other stubborn soils. After you’ve brushed all of this away, use another dry cloth or old tea towel to soak up any excess moisture from your shoes either by placing it on top of them after they have been cleaned or just wiping off where water has pooled around shoes.
A little attention, care, and TLC are all it takes to keep them in great condition. Take a wire brush to them or give them a once over with water or some soap if necessary before drying off your boots with a towel afterward. You’ll thank us later!
Put on some rubber gloves and use saddle soap to clean the leather
First, put on some rubber gloves and use saddle soap to clean the leather. Always try to clean it soon after it gets dirty or wet. Soak boots and leather with cold water and a good (vegetable-based) detergent, like Dr. Bronner’s Hand Soap (my personal favorite). Clean from toe up, rubbing hard as you work your way up the boots to avoid those hard scrubbing marks left from being too lazy to scrub the fronts of your ‘tops’.
After removing as much ground-in dirt as you can with a stiff brush, making sure never to go against the grain of the material–you’re going for a nice sheen here–add another couple gallons of fresh cold water.
1) Cleaning with a brush and some saddle soap. Make sure you have rubber gloves on because it will get messy! This should help gently remove any dirt, oil, salt stains or household spills that may be causing the damage.
2) Conditioner (conditioners for shoes are usually made especially for leather). The conditioner will moisturize your leather because dryness is one of the major causes of cracking. Let it soak in for about 15 mins before wiping off excess. I would recommend applying after each time you wear them too; this should help keep them supple and maintain shine (I like Frog Oil).
Use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess soap from the boot’s surface
Wipe the boot using a damp cloth with any soap until all surfaces are cleaned. Take care to make sure that none of the soap remains on the leather or they will dry out. When leather dries out, it becomes weaker and harder to clean off dirt, grime, and water stains later on.
Rubber gloves are recommended because most shoe polish is meant for use on smooth leather without grains. You can purchase saddle soap at your local saddle-making store also they sell caring products for brown leather shoes only so now you now why I recommend them over regular old shoe polish which isn’t specifically formulated for cleaning these kinds of boots which have more complicated needs.
Put on some rubber gloves and use saddle soap to clean the leather. Follow this with a damp cloth wipe-down to remove any residual soap or dirt.
Using too much water will make the leather ile-, which is why it’s best to not submerge your boots in water–just give them a good rub down with wet towels. If you do want to use soap, then go for saddle soap, as that type is used specifically for cleaning rawhide goods like horse saddles, cowboy boots, etc.
Apply a waterproofing product or polish, such as Mink Oil, to help protect them from water damage
Your skins’ natural oils will help soften and condition the leather surfaces of your boots. So you want to avoid anything that might strip away those natural oils, such as harsh soaps or chemicals.
Unless you’re getting them really dirty, just skip the cleaning and use some saddle soap on a lint-free cloth or sponge to remove any grime instead. Once they’re clean and dry, put on some rubber gloves before applying a waterproofing product or polish such as Mink Oil to help protect them.
It is important to go the extra mile with care because good leather products are usually quite expensive. Put on some rubber gloves and use saddle soap to clean the leather. Then, apply one or two coats of mink oil, wait about an hour, then apply another coat on top of that before wearing your shoes again.
This applies not just for sneakers but for any footwear made from first-rate leather that you want to preserve year after year whether it’s a pair of dress shoes or designer boots.
Allow boots time to dry before wearing again
If you need to let your boots dry, do something to clean them first. Saddle soap is the go-to product for cleaning leather, but some people swear by using nothing more than water and an old toothbrush. Whatever you choose to use, just be sure that any cream or lotion comes off of the leather before drying it will water. That way no bubbles form on the surface of the leather when it dries.
To prevent them from cracking, it’s best to give your boots time to dry before wearing them again. However water doesn’t evaporate easily out of leather; this is why people typically refrain from drying their leather goods in the sun because UV rays break down the collagen fibers that form the material. Here’s an alternative solution: put on some rubber gloves and use saddle soap (which also conditions) to clean the leather with a sponge or rag.
Store in an area where they will not be exposed to heat or sunlight for prolonged periods of time
If you’re going to be using a liquid cleaner, avoid silicone based cleaners because they break down the boots’s waterproofing protection and leave the membranes vulnerable to liquid ingress, bacteria intrusion, and staining.
Apply saddle soap with a soft cloth in a circular motion until all dirt is removed from the leather. Allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated area for at least 8 hours before applying any liquids/creams right next to the seams in between your fingers because then it will just seep into the seams and ruin everything that you’ve just cleaned up!
A lot of the different parts of a saddles create dry spots and can result in leather cracking, so it’s best to take care of your saddle as much as you can. Be sure to dry off any dirt before cleaning with a damp cloth.
There are many types of brushes you could use- we recommend an old toothbrush for those dried on bits and pieces, but if you’ve got minor stains, feel free to use saddle soap and rub them out gently. As always, don’t forget the underside! Let everything air dry before putting it away or else its going to smell like wet leather and take up more space than it needs too.
I’m going to show you how to restore your work boots and make them look like new again. You will need a few supplies, but it’s worth the effort because these are your feet we’re talking about!
You’ll want to take off any laces and pull out any excess dirt from the inside of the boot. Then put on rubber gloves (to protect hands) and fill a bucket with enough water to submerge your boots in.
Put in 1/2 cup white vinegar and stir until dissolved then add 3 tablespoons salt into the mix. Soak for up to 24 hours, using a brush or scrubber if needed, then rinse thoroughly in clean water before letting dry overnight.
How do you make old boots look new again?
- Put a coat of shoe polish on the boots
- Use a cloth to rub in some oil over the leather, then use an old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush to work it into the surface
- Apply another layer of polish and allow it to dry for 24 hours before using them
- Scrape away any dirt from between your toes with a spoon or other utensil
- Apply saddle soap with a damp rag to remove scuffs and restore color if needed
How do you restore stiff leather boots?
- Fill a container with warm water and white vinegar
- Put the boots in the solution for about an hour
- Take them out of the solution, dry them off, and put boot polish on them to make it shiny again!
- Place your boots on a shoe tree or other object that will keep their shape while they are drying
- Let your boots air-dry overnight before wearing them again!
- Clean up after yourself – don’t leave dishes in the sink or dirty clothes lying around
What household items can restore leather boots?
- Use a leather conditioner to remove the stains and restore the boots’ natural color
- Clean your shoes with saddle soap, which will help break down any dirt or mud that has gotten into them
- Apply shoe polish to make your boots look new again
- If you’re in need of more extensive repair work, use a leather cleaner like Lexol for deep cleaning and conditioning
- For exterior scuffs, rub away at them with an old toothbrush or cloth dipped in water and then wipe clean with a dry cloth
- To prevent future damage to your leather boots, store them in cedar boxes when they are not being worn
7) Use boot trees when storing them so they don’t lose their original shape
How do you refresh old leather?
- Clean the leather with a dry cloth
- Apply saddle soap to the entire surface of the leather (don’t use water)
- Use a soft cloth to gently rub in circles until it is completely absorbed by the leather
- Allow at least 15 minutes for air-drying before applying another coat of saddle soap and rubbing it into the leather again, then let dry
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 until desired color is achieved
How do you soften new stiff leather?
- Clean the leather with a damp cloth and dry it off
- Apply a thin layer of mink oil to the entire surface (don’t forget the underside)
- Wait at least 24 hours before wearing it again
- Use saddle soap for more stubborn stains or scratches
- Store your shoes in their original box when not using them, or store them on shoe trees inside an airy area such as a closet, attic, or garage (never in plastic bags)
- If you’re going to be storing your shoes for long periods of time, make sure they are completely dry first by letting them sit out overnight
How do you soften boots quickly?
- Wear the boots in a cool, dry place for an hour
- Put your boots on the top of the refrigerator to soften them
- Place a hot water bottle inside your boot and let it sit overnight
- Freeze your boots for 24 hours then put them outside in direct sunlight
- Soak your boots with warm water then rub Vaseline onto the leather to moisturize it
- Fill up a pot with lukewarm water and drop some tea bags into it, submerge your feet until they are soft enough to wear
How do you soften leather boots with Vaseline?
Woolite is the best option for cleaning boots. Vaseline will make them stink, get soggy, and even melt after a little while. Plus, it’ll create big white rings on your leather boots if they’re still wet. A mild soap like Woolite is gentle enough to clean without drying out the leather (and also has an added bonus of not stinking up your house). The more you wear your boots, the more wax will seep out of them to condition the surface of your boots- so no need to get them conditioned with something else!
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