Tips for Cleaning Winter Boots

By Jonathan Bales , last updated May 5, 2011

Winter boots are made from heavy-duty materials because they can take a beating, often resulting in a less than perfect appearance. The mud, salt and so on that cover winter boots after extended use make them impossible to bring into the house prior to a good cleaning. Plus, properly taking care of winter boots will ensure they last as long as possible. Follow the tips below to clean your winter boots and have them looking like new in no time.

It is crucial to clean your boots as soon as possible after using them. This will make it more difficult for dirt and salt stains to set in. Take the boots outside and hit them against a tree, pole or even each other. This will help to remove some of the dirt, mud and stones that have collected in the boots' crevices. Use an old toothbrush or small cleaning brush to remove the rest of the unwanted materials from the boots, particularly in the ridges on the bottom of the boots. Then, use a moist rag to clean the soles and top of the boots. This is especially useful for leather or rubber boots, as the dirt and mud should come off rather easily. If your winter boots happen to be suede, use a soft dry cloth to remove as much dirt as possible.

Next, make a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water. Place the solution on a soft cloth and dab the boots to remove salt stains. Then use a damp rag to remove this solution and a soft, dry cloth to dry the boots. If the salt stains are particularly bad, there are cleaning solutions made primarily for salt stain removal. These can be found at many local home and garden stores or shoe repair shops.

After removing all salt stains, rid your boots of the other stains with a leather boot cleaning solution. This solution can be purchased along with the salt stain removal solution, but be sure the product you choose is the correct one for your type of leather. Certain leather cleaners are only good for specific leather types. Follow the directions on the product's package. On suede boots, an eraser can actually be the most effective way to remove dirt and stains. Gently rub the desired area with the eraser, and be sure to not place any water on the suede. Water will damage the suede and decrease the lifespan of your winter boots.

To remove scuffs on leather boots, dip a soft cloth in water and baking soda, then rub the scuffs gently. For rubber boots, use the same process but use kitchen scouring powder instead of baking soda.

When finished cleaning your boots, place them inside, away from direct sunlight or excessive heat. Too much heat can warp the leather or suede on your boots and make them brittle. Before wearing your winter boots again, apply a waterproofing solution to them. This will keep them as dry as possible and ultimately make them last longer.

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