Winter is a great time to show off your favorite footwear. And no matter what the style is that year, leather and suede boots are always considered vogue. Although these boots look great with pants, jeans, dresses, or a military uniform, after wearing them for some time, you may wonder how to clean winter boots.
Don’t worry, you can get rid of smudges, dried-out leather, or icky odors using the items you have around your home. Here’s what you need to know.
How to Clean Winter Boots: But First
When learning how to clean winter leather boots—or boots made from other materials—it’s important to first address the elephant in the room: washing machines. Some people think it’s okay to throw their winter boots in the washing machine and let it take care of the stains and odor, but in fact, it’s not.
When you put winter boots in the washing machine, all that water will loosen the glue that holds the soles on the bottom of the boot. Also, if your winter boots feature sheepskin on any part of them, a washing machine will cause it to lose its natural oil, leaving the sheepskin flat and dull.
So, cleaning your boots by hand is a must. Let’s move on to how to clean winter boots—both inside and out.
How to Clean the Outside of Winter Boots
During the winter season, your boots get scuffed, acquire salt stains, and if your boots are made from leather, become dry and cracked. Here’s how to tackle each of these issues.
Salty is good—except on your boots
We all love a salty character, but when salt stains your boots, it’s not as endearing. But if you live an area where it snows and the city applies salt to sidewalks and streets, you’re bound to get those pesky white rings on your boots.
To remove the salt rings from leather boots, make a mixture of one part water and two parts vinegar and then rub the mixture into the boots until the stain is gone. Because vinegar can dry out the leather on your boots, follow this up with a leather restorer or hair conditioner. This will bring back the original sheen and soothe the cracks.
If you wear suede boots, use a brush to remove any loose dirt, and then lightly dab on the mixture until the salt stains are gone. When suede gets wet, the nap flattens. To combat this, use a piece of terry cloth or a toothbrush to rub it until you restore its shape.
Here’s a quick video to give you a visual:
Scuffs no more
Scuffs—those ugly black marks—on your leather boots can make the boot look old and ragged. Luckily it’s easy to clean winter boots and remove the scuff that is cramping your style. Gather a cloth, a bowl of water, and some baking soda. Dip the cloth in the water and then the baking soda and gently rub the mixture onto the scuff until it disappears.
It’s important that you rub gently when cleaning your winter boots this way because if you rub in the mixture too hard, it could tear or crack the leather. On the other hand, if you’re cleaning rubber boots, feel free to rub as hard as necessary to clear away the scuffs.
Once you’ve wiped away the scuffs, buff the boots dry with a clean cloth and set aside the boots until they’re dry.
How to Clean Winter Boots That Aren’t Leather or Suede
If you wear winter boots that aren’t leather or suede, you will have to take a different approach to clean the exterior.
It’s All About the Canvas
Because these types of boots are constructed with fabric, you won’t have to worry about immersing them in water. You still shouldn’t put them in the washing machine because it can cause the glue that holds on the soles to melt away.
First, remove the sole and laces from the boot. Then fill a sink or container with warm water. Next, make a paste with warm water and baking soda and use a toothbrush to clean the dirty areas of the boot. Once you’ve removed the smudges and stains, immerse the boot in the warm water and rinse away the paste.
To dry the boots, fill them with paper towels and stand them in a dry area. The paper towels will help the boots retain their shape while drying.
It’s Not Real, But Still
If you own faux fur boots, you have likely noticed that winter crud can easily accumulate in the fur. Since you can’t put the boots in the washing machine, how in the world do you get all that gunk off the fur? Luckily, it’s easy.
Start by filling a large plastic bag with about two cups of cornmeal. Then, add the boots to the bag, making sure the fur comes in contact with the cornmeal. Seal the bag and shake it vigorously. Let it sit for a couple of hours and then use a clean cloth to remove the cornmeal. If the cloth doesn’t eliminate all of the cornmeal, use a brush to dislodge the remaining particles. Be sure to fluff the fur afterward to make them beautiful!
Now that we’ve talked about how to clean winter boots on the outside, let’s move to the interior of your boots where all those smelly odors hang out.
How to Clean Inside of Winter Boots
All those bad odors are likely coming from the inside of your winter boots. Because of this, it’s important to understand how to get the inside of your boots clean and smell-fresh. Winter boots come in contact with a lot of moisture, and bacteria thrive in that environment. So, to get rid of the smells, you have to eliminate the bacteria.
Here are a few methods of doing just that.
Give the soles a fresh soul
The soles of your winter boots are in contact with your feet all day. Combine that with wet conditions and it’s easy to see how boot soles can quickly become smelly. Cleaning your boot soles is an important step in getting rid of winter boot odors.
Here are the steps you should take to clean and deodorize your boot soles.
- Gather some warm water, laundry detergent, white vinegar, sponges, a soft cloth, and a towel.
- Remove the boot soles and allow them to dry. This will remove some of the bacteria, but we still have some work to do.
- Fill a bucket or the sink with warm water and add the vinegar and laundry detergent. Stir the mixture until it’s combined.
- Add the boot soles to the water, and using the sponge, wash them thoroughly. If the odor is particularly strong, you can let them soak in the mixture for about half an hour. The vinegar will kill the bacteria that are causing the odor.
- While the soles are soaking, it’s a great time to use the cloth to gently clean the inside of the winter boots!
- Take the soles out of the mixture and squeeze them out. Then, drain the mixture and refill the container with plain water.
- Put the soles in the water and wash out the laundry detergent and vinegar.
- Remove the soles and reshape them. Then, lay them on a dry towel and allow them to dry completely before reinserting them into the boots.
- If an odor remains, use a freshening spray each time you wear the boots.
Freeze it Out
If you don’t want to wash your winter boot soles, you can freeze out the bacteria that are causing the smells. You will need some plastic freezer bags and baking soda to perform this odor removing trick. Start by sprinkling the boot soles with baking soda and then putting them in a freezer bag. Then, place the bag in the freezer for a few hours to kill the bacteria.
Be sure to let the soles completely dry before placing them back in the boots.
How to Clean Winter Boots: An Odor Prevention Trick
If odors are a reoccurring issue with your boots, take these steps to keep those odors at bay so you can enjoy your winter boots all year long.
- Start by gathering baking soda, coffee grounds, and an old sock or the foot portion of a pair of pantyhose.
- Combine the baking soda and coffee grounds and put it in the sock or pantyhose. Tie the end so the mixture stays contained.
- Between each wearing, put the pouch in the boots. This will help keep them smelling fresh!
Prevention is Key
To avoid having to clean winter boots over and over, think about taking a step that will prevent future damage from happening. Purchase a water repellent for boots and that will prevent a lot of the damage that comes from trudging through the snow and wet weather conditions. Apply the repellent each time you wear the boots.
Did You Learn How to Clean Winter Boots?
We know you love your winter boots—we do, too! But when they get dirty or begin to smell funky, it takes away the pleasure of wearing them. Isn’t it great to know that you can use the things you already own to clean your winter boots and keep them smelling fresh?
If you have other ways to clean winter boots that we didn’t mention, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. You may help save someone else’s winter boots!