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Cleaning Your Boots

Is there any special way I should wash my boots or can I just treat them like any other shoe?

Question:

Is there any special way I should wash my boots or can I just treat them like any other shoe?

Submitted by - Alex

Answer:

Here’s how I do it. This technique works with all materials and types of boots. First, remove the laces. Toss them in the washing machine or even the dishwasher. Fill a bucket with about a half-gallon of water and wet the boots thoroughly. Add a drop of dish soap (like Dawn) or better yet: a purpose-built boot cleaner like ReviveX Boot Cleaner Concentrate (mcnett.com). Scrub the boot aggressively with a medium stiff brush (a toothbrush also works). Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel (nikwax.com) is another good purpose built soap. (You don’t add it to the bucket of water, but use the included applicator brush to scrub it into the wet boot.) After a good scrubbing, rinse the boots under the faucet or with a hose. Let them air dry in the sun and then, while you’re at it, give them a waterproofing treatment.

Choose the treatment based on the type of boot. For all leather, I like Aquaseal Leather Waterproofing and Conditioner (aquaseal.com), because it’s a two-fer: It saves me a step and does a great job at both tasks. For boots with both leather and fabric, go for a spray on treatment like Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof.

By the way, I recently finished a big book on gear maintenance and repair, which features step-by-step instructions on boot care (with photos) as well as all other types of gear, too. Grab your copy here.

Depending on the materials proceed to waterproofing, below. There’s something very gratifying about giving your boots their own little spa day. You start off with dusty, dirt-encrusted clompers, and less than an hour later you have boots that look spanking new. Follow these easy steps any time your boots come home from a trip looking particularly thrashed.

1 Comment

  1. hiker

    Ale,

    putting your boots in the dishwasher sounds crappy to me. I use my dishwasher just to do my dishes. Since I use them to eat from, I will never share them with my stomach.
    However, soaking them in a bucket is a good idea. Cleaning your boots after each use is must, then condition them with some oil or whatever. I would never leave dirt on my boots.

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