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How to Clean Work Boots: The Detailed Guide for Every Step

Fact checked by A. Thompson

how to clean work boots

Work boots can be very messy, especially if you work outdoors. Dirt can build up over time, and this might result in more severe boot problems when not taken care of properly, like replacing it sooner, so before that happens, you need to properly and consistently clean it.

You don’t need a shoe cleaner to have your work shoes cleaned. You only need yourself and some work boot cleaner so you can start removing the dirt in your work boots.

We’ll show you below the step-by-step guide on how to clean work boots the right way.

Cleaning work boots need time and effort so you really have to set aside time to do it.

What You Need for To Clean Leather Work Boots


  • Scrub brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Saddle soap or mild soap and warm water
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Lighter
  • Long handle shoe brush
  • Damp cloth
  • Shoe polishing brush
  • Leather conditioner or coconut oil
  • Polishing cream

Steps to Clean Leather Work Boots

Step 1. Dry Brush

Make sure that your work boots are dry before cleaning them. You need to remove the laces first and wash them separately. Use the scrub brush to remove the loose dirt outside the shoes.

Be extra careful when brushing around the stitches because you don’t want to destroy them, and do not forget to brush the tongue of the work boots.

Use the toothbrush to deep clean the seams, as it has a soft bristle not to damage the stitches.

Step 2. Clean the Outsole

Get the kitchen tissue, water, and saddle soap. If you don’t have a saddle soap, you can use wet wipes or a combination of mild soap and warm water.

Dip the tissue in the water; you don’t have to soak all of the tissue; half of it will do. Pat the wet tissue in the saddle soap until you get an ample amount of soap.

Wash the outsole using the soapy tissue until it gets drenched with the soap, and then use the scrub brush to deep clean the outsole.

You can also use sandpaper with medium grit to even out the texture of the outsole, but this is only optional. Wipe the sole with a dry paper towel until all the mess is removed.

Step 3. Clean the Upper

Check the seams in your work boots and look for any loose threads; if there are, carefully use a cigarette lighter to burn the loose thread and retain its form.

To scrub the upper, you need to use the long-handle shoe brush, dip it in the water and rub it in the saddle soap until it becomes soapy. Brush all the sides of the work boots until you are satisfied. You have to be gentle when doing this because you don’t want to damage the leather.

Wipe the work boots using a clean and dry paper towel until all the mess is removed. Finally, use a damp cloth to wipe your work boots. Let it dry for a few minutes.

Step 4. Apply a Conditioner

Apply a light coat of leather conditioner or coconut oil on your work boots with your fingertips. It is better to use your fingertips than a cloth because it allows you to feel the material and reach all areas of the shoes. Once done, let the work boots dry and use the shoe polishing brush to remove the residues of the leather conditioner.

Step 5. Polish the Work Boot

For the finishing touches, wax your work boot using a polishing cream. Apply around 2 to 3 layers of coating and then brush the work boots using the shoe polishing brush. Put the lace back and let it dry.

What You Need for Cleaning Suede/Nubuck Work Boots:

  • Scrub brush with soft bristles
  • Brush with hard bristles
  • Polishing brush
  • Suede/Nubuck cleaner (use alcohol or white vinegar for stubborn stain)
  • Microfiber towel
  • Spray oil (mink oil)
  • Small container

Steps to Clean Suede/Nubuck Work Boots

Step 1: Inspect the Work Boots

Suede or nubuck work boots are different materials from regular leather work boots, so you need to pay extra attention to them.

Inspect the work boots first to gauge the extent of their dirt. Check the seams and look for any loose threads and if there are, carefully use a lighter to burn the loose thread and retain its form.

Remove the shoelace before cleaning the upper.

Step 2: Clean the Upper and the Sole

Pour the suede/nubuck cleaner into a container, soak the brush in it and wait for a few minutes. Wash work boots in a circular motion and do it gently to avoid damaging the material. Do this until all areas of the shoes have been cleaned.

Scrub the outsoles using the hard bristled brush. Use the microfiber towel to clean the mess resulting from brushing the work boots. Do this step until you feel comfortable with the result, and let it dry overnight.

Step 3: Apply Oil

To restore the material, you need to first brush all areas of the work boots using the polishing brush. Do this repeatedly in the same direction to avoid damaging the suede/nubuck material.

Spray the upper part or the suede/nubuck material with mink oil and brush it again repeatedly in the same direction until you feel that the material is smooth. Put the lace back, and you can start wearing it.

Cleaning the Inside of the Work Boots


Cleaning the inside of work boots is equally important as cleaning the outside. You should clean inside of boots regularly to help minimize the foul smell and the build-up of bacteria as a result of your feet sweating. Below is the link to a video that will show you how to clean and condition the inside of your work boots.

How Often to Clean Your Work Boots

There is no standard schedule for how often you should clean your work boots. But you can clean them as soon as you feel the need to if you use them for work every day, brush off the soil or dirt after use. And you can do a deep cleaning at least once a month to ensure that the aesthetics remain the same.

In addition, you might need to clean the inside of boots as often as possible to avoid the stinky smell and disinfect it to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

Pro Tips in Caring for your Work Boots

  • Check your work boots every day after use to see if there are concerns or damages you need to address quickly.
  • Air-dry your work boots every time you’re not wearing them to dry out the moisture.
  • Avoid using bleach, bar soap, or any detergent in cleaning your work boots, as this can damage and dry up the material.
  • Never use water to clean your suede boots because the water causes the suede material to get rough and discolored.


Your work boots are your daily companion at work, it keeps you safe from any foot injuries, and it is only proper that you know how to clean work boots to maximize its use. Most importantly, an adequately cleaned work boot will last longer and give you the best value for your money.

This article is your step-by-step guide on cleaning your work boots the right way. Besides, we also have other articles that related to work boots such as how to break in work boots, if you have interesting in them you can check it out here. Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section, and share this article with your workmates.

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