How to Clean Leather Work Boots with Household Items

Last Updated on January 24, 2024

Do you spend most of the day standing in your work boots? In that case, you need to take care of them. If you’re like me, you might have a lot of leather work boots that need to be cleaned. Leather is a wonderful material, but it can get dirty very quickly. However, cleaning leather work boots is not that difficult. In fact, it’s not hard at all.

Shoe care is essential. Leather work boots are a common type of footwear for people who work in construction, landscaping, or any other outdoor job. The purpose of these boots is to provide some protection against sharp objects on the ground as well as to provide some insulation against heat and cold. However, if these boots are not taken care of, they will become brittle quickly.

I Love My Boots!, and so do you. If you are reading this, it is because you love your boots & you care for them. In this post, we will discuss three best ways to clean leather work boots, regardless of their style (pull-on or lace-up). Using these simple techniques, you can easily clean any type of leather shoes.

Clean & Condition Dirty Leather Boots With Household Items

What household products can you use to clean leather ? Let us show you various methods you can easily follow to to clean leather work boots.

1. Warm Water & Soap – For Deep Cleaning & Removing Stains

To keep your leather boots looking great for as long as possible, follow these easy steps! These steps will ensure you are following the best ways to clean work boots

1. Remove Dirt or Debris From Boots

Remove Dirt or Debris From Boots

Brush off any loose dirt or debris from your dirty work boots. Use a dry cloth if necessary. Make sure you brush from the top down and carefully work around rivets and eyelets, so they don’t become damaged.

This practice will also help preserve the laces by keeping them clean and protecting their integrity while lacing work boots.

2. Remove Shoes Laces

Remove Shoes Laces

Remove all of the shoelaces before cleaning them, firstly using a damp rag at least once every few months to remove built-up sweat/dirt that has been left alone over time which can often ruin lace materials over time. Additionally, the color of laces also fades over time. You may have noticed that some manufacturers put wax on their laces to prevent this.

3. Apply Soap with Dry Cloth

Apply Soap with Dry Cloth To Clean Leather Work Boots

Clean the leather boots using a dry cloth or soft brush one more time after you’ve removed any loose dirt and debris. If they are still dirty, use warm water with gentle soap (we recommend not putting these in your washing machine as it can damage them).

Afterward, take out all of the shoelaces once again so that they can air dry overnight before retying them back together for optimal use. Remember, if you bought shoes with waxed laces, then avoid getting those areas wet when cleaning because it will remove the natural protection over time which is why we recommend having an extra pair around just in case.

4. Conditioning Your Leather Work Boots

Conditioning Your Leather Work Boots

Apply a leather conditioner to help protect them from exposure and dryness. Popular brands in your area make quality products and got noticed after they were approved by people in your area. So go for them.

Once you have cleaned your leather work boots thoroughly, be sure to use a leather protector spray now and then. By using these sprays, you will build a barrier between the leather, and any elements that can cause damage over time, such as water, oil, dirt, etc. We recommend using two coats of this over time for maximum protection and conditioning leather.

5. Dry these Bad Boys

Dry these work boots

Finally, you can reinsert the shoelace back into your boots after everything has dried out completely. Try to leave these leather work boots in a airy place with ventilation. This will dry the work boots naturally. Ensure not to tie too tightly around the ankles because this will restrict blood flow, resulting in potential long-term damage if you wear shoes for long.

How To Dry Inside Of Boots ?

You can place the boots upside down in a well ventilated area. This way the liquid will not stay in those small grains of the work boots and expedite the drying process. You can also use boot dryers for this purpose.

2. Cold Water, White Vinegar & Soap

STEP 1 – Take Some Water, Vinegar & Soap ( Optional )

Take Some Water, Vinegar & Soap

We recommend getting a clean bowl or bucket (if using water) along with some cold water and soap. While cleaning your leather work boots, you can use household items like white vinegar to spot-treat stains.

However, you should use this cleaning leather boots method if your boot’s manufacturer advises it! We suggest looking at the label of your leather work boots for more information on cleaning. Read carefully what shouldn’t go into specific models of footwear before the cleaning process.

STEP 2 – In Case You Are Using Soap to Clean Dirty Work Boots

Using Soap to Clean Dirty Work Boots

If you’re going to use saddle soap for boots, pour out a small amount onto a damp cloth or sponge. The soap acts as a leather work boot cleaner. Ensure that you are not using too much of this product because it can damage the leather.

The saddle soap should become an outstanding lather when rubbed into your leather work boots. Be careful to avoid getting any on non-leather material such as rubber soles.


For cleaning work boot leather with water and vinegar, always use cold water, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer. Vinegar acts as a homemade boot cleaner.

We recommend you use an old rag (microfiber) to clean until they look clean. Then take them outside, hose them off thoroughly, and make sure no dirt residue exists. Follow up with a leather conditioner and let them dry a little before putting them on again.

Pro Tip

You can use your old tooth brush to rub off the dirt. Apply the soap you made using aforementioned method. This is the only household item everyone has 😉

3. Rubbing Alcohol – Deep Cleaning

A lot of people think that cleaning leather boots is difficult because they’re so tough. Trust me, it’s not true. There are many easy ways to keep your leather work boot looking new, and rubbing alcohol is one of them.

  • First, you will want to grab a clean bowl or bucket of water and then add in a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
  • Secondly, rub this concoction onto the leather of your work boots and let it dry before wearing them again. The benefits of using rubbing alcohol on your leather work boots are that it helps to keep the leather of your shoes waterproofed and prevents any bacterial growth on them
  • After applying the rubbing alcohol mixture onto your boots, let them dry for a little while before wearing them again
  • Lastly, be sure to grab some leather conditioners when drying because they will help protect you from any more damage and restore some of their nice appearance in general.

If you want to use this method regularly, then do so only every three months or less.

Best Ways To Clean Your Leather Work Boots In Long-Term?

Cleaning your boots depends on the materials and how often you wear them. We recommend washing them once a week at least, if that isn’t possible, then maybe at least twice a month. Like in winters when things get extra muddy. For those who want their leather work boots to look shiny and new, here’s what you can do:-

  • Make sure there is no large crud on the surface before cleaning or shining up the process.
  • If you’re using saddle soap, you should wash your boots with cold water first. If not, warm or hot soapy water will do.
  • Make sure the brush isn’t sharp, as it can damage the leather.
  • Use a stiff brush to remove dirt from the surface. Some even recommend sandpaper instead!
  • Always condition after clean leather work boots and let dry at least half an hour before wearing again.
  • The more often you do this maintenance process, the less effort is required in future clean-ups, since the material has been softened up over time, they won’t get dirty as quickly.

How to take care of leather boots?

How To Take Care Of Leather Boots

If you want to keep your leather work boots in good condition, then it’s best to avoid doing the following:

  • Never wear them while they’re still damp because this will cause damage, make them smelly and ruin the material. Additionally, don’t store them anywhere that is too warm or moist as this can also lead to a lot of problems further down the line.
  • Using a reliable detergent when you clean leather work boots might seem like a good idea. However make sure there aren’t any chemicals included; these are especially harmful to leather, so if possible, try opting for something eco-friendly instead. Also, be careful about what types of soap you use on other materials such as suede. Sometimes even ordinary soap can mess up stitched parts, so make sure you’re using the right product for your boots.
  • Be careful about what types of soap you use on other materials such as suede. Sometimes even ordinary soap can mess up stitched parts, so make sure you’re using the right product for your boots.
  • Avoid wearing work boots in wet weather and scorching conditions (e.g. sweltering summer months) because this can damage leather too. If possible, we recommend having an extra pair of rain boots or other suitable waterproof work boots for such conditions to swap with instead!

How Can You Treat Water Stains On Your Leather Work Boots?

How Can You Treat Water Stains On Your Leather Work Boots ?

We hardcore workers have to face all sorts of work places. Most of us rely on our slip on work boots to protect ourselves and enhance our productivity.

However when it comes to wet work places, we all feel something deep inside there ! Yes you are right no one wants to be in a risky place. I mean slipping, walking carefully to avoid any accidents. In addition to this, avoiding water stains on boots is another uphill task.

Unfortunately, if you are in such a situation don’t worry Shoes Pundit is here to help you. Use some fine-grit sandpaper to rub away excess dirt from your work boot’s surface, then apply leather conditioner afterward. This will help restore shine over time. You can follow up with saddle soap if there is still an odd stain left after these steps. Let it dry before treating it normally.

Some Tips To Clean Out The Soles Of Your Leather Work Boots

For cleaning out the soles of your leather shoes, start by using a stiff brush and warm soapy water. Be careful not to scrub too hard, though, or else you might cause some damage. If they’re filthy or stinky, then let them soak in a bath filled with soap. This will help loosen any stubborn stains.

What Are Some Tips To Clean Out The Soles Of Your Leather Work Boots ?

Be sure to rinse off all traces of soap afterwards. Secondly, if using sandpaper, always be gentle, because even the slightest rubbing can ruin things. Do not put too much pressure on it or sand it back down to bare leather.

How Do You Make Sure To Condition Your Leather Work Boots?

make sure to condition your leather work boots after cleaning

Ideally, you should always condition your boots after washing them first; otherwise, the soap might make them look less appealing. Don’t use too much soap! In addition, water-soluble soap may be too strong. A generous amount of conditioner should follow since it also requires love and care to absorb into the fabric.

Try rubbing a tiny bit of saddle soap into stubborn spots on your dirty work boots. But don’t overdo it here because these can potentially damage stitching! Now you might be thinking how to dry work boots? Just remember that once done, leather needs to be left in a well-ventilated area so it can dry out properly and keep your feet dry when you wear them.

How Do You Clean Out Any Dirt & Debris Between The Stitches

How Do You Clean Out Any Dirt & Debris From Between The Stitches On Your Leather Work Boots ?

If your work boots have stitches between them, you can clean them with an old toothbrush and some water. You may also need soap if necessary (for example, if the stitches are filthy).

Wash away any remaining grime with this tool after soaking all obvious material; keep rinsing otherwise there will be too much suds! To remove any tough marks without damaging anything else, use saddle soap or warm water and sandpaper. If not, make sure everything dries up nicely because otherwise, it may cause some damage.

Final Words

You can see how easy it is to clean leather work boots. Regularly doing this will help them remain in great condition much longer than you might think possible. Keep a good leather shoe cleaner at home to use frequently.

All it takes is a few minutes every couple of months to keep your shoes looking new and performing optimally. I suggest you memorize these simple steps to cleaning stinky leather work boots if you’re on a budget. Shoes Pundit is here for you and your journey with work boots.

Mark Walter is an accomplished researcher and writer with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the world of work boots. His expertise in this field is unmatched, having worked in a variety of industries and work environments. Mark's writing is clear and concise, making him an ideal source of information for anyone looking to learn more about the importance of selecting the right work boots for the job.