How to Clean Winter Boots: Expert Tips for Longevity and Style in 2023

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how to clean winter boots

Essential Steps to Clean Winter Boots After a Snowy Day

Winter boots can take a beating after a snowy day, but with the right cleaning routine, you can keep them looking great and extend their lifespan. Here are some essential steps to follow:

Gently Remove Excess Snow and Dirt

Before cleaning your winter boots, it’s important to remove any excess snow or dirt. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently brush off the surface of the boots. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this could damage the material.

Prepare a Cleaning Solution

Next, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing warm water with a mild detergent or boot cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the material of your boots. Test the solution on a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.

Clean the Boots

Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the surface of your winter boots. Pay extra attention to any stained or dirty areas. For tough stains, you may need to let the cleaning solution sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.

Rinse and Dry

After cleaning, rinse off the boots with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue. Then, pat them dry with a clean towel or allow them to air dry naturally. Avoid using direct heat sources like radiators or hairdryers, as this can damage certain materials.


  • If your winter boots have removable liners or insoles, take them out and clean them separately according to their specific care instructions.
  • To maintain the shape of your winter boots while drying, stuff them with newspaper or boot shapers.
  • Consider applying a waterproofing spray or treatment to protect your boots from future stains and damage.

Effective Methods to Remove Salt Stains from Winter Boots

Salt stains on winter boots can be unsightly and damaging if not properly removed. One effective method is to create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Apply the solution to a clean cloth and gently dab at the salt stains, being careful not to saturate the boots. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth. Repeat this process until the salt stains are no longer visible.

Another method is to use a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. Create a soapy solution and apply it to the salt stains using a soft brush or sponge. Gently scrub the affected areas in circular motions, then rinse with clean water. Allow the boots to air dry completely before wearing them again.


  • Always test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of your winter boots before applying it to the entire surface.
  • Avoid using hot water or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the material of your boots.
  • If the salt stains persist, consider taking your winter boots to a professional cleaner who specializes in shoe care.


To prevent salt stains from forming on your winter boots in the first place, consider applying a protective spray or treatment specifically designed for footwear. These products create a barrier that helps repel moisture and salt, keeping your boots cleaner for longer periods of time.

Safely Cleaning Suede Winter Boots: Soap and Water or Not?

Cleaning suede winter boots requires special care to avoid damaging their delicate texture. Contrary to popular belief, using soap and water directly on suede is not recommended as it can cause discoloration and water stains. Instead, there are alternative methods to safely clean suede winter boots.

One method is to use a suede brush or eraser to gently remove any surface dirt or stains. Start by brushing the boots in one direction to lift off loose dirt, then use an eraser specifically made for suede to gently rub away any remaining stains. Be sure to follow the grain of the suede and avoid applying excessive pressure.


  • Do not use water or liquid cleaners directly on suede, as they can leave behind water marks.
  • If your suede boots have stubborn stains, consider using a specialized suede cleaner that is designed to lift dirt and stains without damaging the material.
  • After cleaning your suede winter boots, allow them to air dry naturally away from direct heat sources. Avoid using a hairdryer or placing them near a radiator, as this can cause shrinkage or distortion of the suede.


To protect your suede winter boots from future stains and damage, it is recommended to apply a waterproofing spray specifically formulated for suede. This will create a barrier that repels moisture and helps maintain the appearance of your boots.

Best Method for Cleaning Winter Boots with Fur Lining

Handwashing with Gentle Detergent

If your winter boots have fur lining, it is best to avoid machine washing them as the agitation can damage the fur. Instead, opt for handwashing using a gentle detergent. Start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the boots. Then, mix a small amount of mild detergent with warm water in a basin or sink. Gently scrub the boots using a soft brush or cloth, paying extra attention to any stained areas. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and squeeze out excess moisture.

To dry the boots, stuff them with newspaper or paper towels to help maintain their shape and absorb moisture. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources as this can cause the fur to become brittle or shrink. Allow the boots to air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area.


  • Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer before cleaning your winter boots.
  • If your fur-lined boots are particularly dirty or stained, consider taking them to a professional cleaner who specializes in leather and fur.

Machine Wash or Handwash? Cleaning Waterproof Winter Boots

Machine Washing for Non-Leather Waterproof Boots

Cleaning waterproof winter boots depends on whether they are made of leather or non-leather materials. For non-leather waterproof boots, such as those made of rubber or synthetic materials, machine washing can be an effective method. Before placing them in the washing machine, remove any loose dirt and mud from the boots.

Place the boots inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the wash cycle. Use a mild detergent and set your machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as they can damage the waterproof coating. Once the cycle is complete, remove the boots from the bag and allow them to air dry.


  • Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer before machine washing your waterproof boots.
  • If your waterproof boots have leather components, it is best to handwash them following the appropriate method for cleaning leather.

Recommended Products and Cleaners for Leather Winter Boots

Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

When it comes to cleaning leather winter boots, using specialized leather cleaners and conditioners is crucial to maintain their quality and longevity. Look for products specifically designed for cleaning leather footwear. These cleaners are usually pH-balanced and gentle enough to remove dirt and stains without causing damage.

To clean your leather winter boots, start by removing any loose dirt or debris with a soft brush or cloth. Apply a small amount of the leather cleaner onto a damp cloth or sponge, then gently rub it onto the surface of the boots in circular motions. Pay extra attention to any stained areas. Once cleaned, wipe off any excess cleaner with a clean, damp cloth.

After cleaning, apply a suitable leather conditioner to moisturize and protect the boots. Follow the instructions on the conditioner’s packaging for best results. Regularly conditioning your leather winter boots will help prevent drying, cracking, and discoloration.


  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or household cleaners on your leather winter boots as they can strip away natural oils and cause damage.
  • Test any new cleaner or conditioner on a small inconspicuous area of your boots before applying it all over to ensure it does not cause any adverse effects.

Maintaining Your Winter Boots: How Often Should You Clean Them?

The frequency of cleaning your winter boots depends on how often you wear them and the conditions in which they are exposed. As a general rule, it is recommended to clean your winter boots at least once every season or when they appear visibly dirty or stained.

However, if you frequently wear your boots in harsh weather conditions or environments with excessive dirt, snow, or salt, it may be necessary to clean them more frequently. Regularly inspecting your boots for signs of dirt buildup, stains, or damage will help you determine when they need cleaning.


  • Properly storing your winter boots when not in use can help extend their lifespan and reduce the frequency of cleaning. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
  • Consider using boot liners or inserts to absorb sweat and odor, reducing the need for frequent cleaning.

Drying Wet Winter Boots: Precautions to Avoid Damage

Air Drying with Proper Ventilation

If your winter boots get wet, it is important to dry them properly to prevent damage and mold growth. Avoid using direct heat sources such as heaters or hairdryers as they can cause the materials to warp or shrink. Instead, remove any excess moisture by blotting the boots with a clean towel.

Next, stuff the boots with crumpled newspaper or paper towels to help absorb moisture from the inside. Place them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow the boots to air dry naturally for several hours or overnight until they are completely dry.


  • Do not force dry your winter boots by placing them near a heat source or using a high-speed fan, as this can cause the materials to crack or lose their shape.
  • If your boots have removable insoles or liners, take them out and dry them separately to ensure thorough drying.

Natural Remedies and DIY Solutions for Stubborn Stains on Winter Boots

Vinegar and Water Solution for Stains

If you encounter stubborn stains on your winter boots, there are several natural remedies and DIY solutions that can help remove them. One effective solution is a mixture of vinegar and water. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the stained areas of the boots and gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse with clean water and allow the boots to air dry.

For oil-based stains, such as grease or oil marks, sprinkle some cornstarch or talcum powder onto the stain and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the oil. Then, gently brush off the powder and use a mild detergent to clean the remaining residue.


  • Always test any DIY solution on a small inconspicuous area of your boots before applying it all over to ensure it does not cause discoloration or damage.
  • If you are unsure about treating stubborn stains yourself, consult a professional cleaner who specializes in footwear cleaning.

Maintaining Quality: Applying Protective Sprays/Treatments on Cleaned Winter Boots

Waterproofing Spray for Extra Protection

To maintain the quality and protectiveness of your cleaned winter boots, consider applying a suitable protective spray or treatment. Waterproofing sprays can help repel water, snow, and stains, keeping your boots looking new for longer.

Before applying any protective spray, ensure that your boots are clean and dry. Follow the instructions on the spray’s packaging for application techniques and drying times. Apply the spray in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to avoid inhaling fumes.


  • Choose a waterproofing spray specifically designed for the material of your winter boots (e.g., leather, suede, fabric) to ensure compatibility and effectiveness.
  • Regularly reapply the protective spray according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, especially if you frequently wear your boots in wet or snowy conditions.

In conclusion, cleaning winter boots is a simple process that can help prolong their lifespan and maintain their appearance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, individuals can effectively remove dirt, salt stains, and moisture from their boots, ensuring they remain in optimal condition for future use.

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