How to Wash Work Boots? Wash with Ease!

Are you planning to visit a friend from your work? Well, it won’t look very nice if you had to remove your shoes before entering their house. And let’s be honest, you’re totally aware of having shoes covered with dust, oil, and dirt that can ruin anything you step onto. That’s the problem with work boots, and the situation is even worse when it’s raining and all muddy out there.

Although hosing down the dirt is a solution, it can never eliminate the odor-causing bacteria that can drench your boots in sweat.

To help you take care of them, here’s a complete guide on washing work boots with ease.

So, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

How To Wash Work Boots

When it comes to cleaning your work boots, you need to carry out several procedures to get rid of the accumulated dirt and bacteria. Here’s how you can effectively clean both.

The Outside

Step #1: Prepare Your Shoes for The Cleanup

The initial step is separating the insoles of the shoe from the outsoles. Once that’s done, brush off the thick layer of dirt and dust to make the rest of the process easier. Again, I recommend using a dry brush or cloth that perfectly removes the dust without struggling with dust-filled material.

Step #2: Use Your Cleaning Product

Once you have successfully removed the superficial layer of dirt, it’s time to get into the more thorough cleaning process. If you are thinking of starting with water, I’d advise you to reconsider before it can ruin your expensive work boots.

Remember leather cleaning products should be:

  • Petroleum-free
  • Combined with a plant oil-based cleaning substance
  • Mild

If your shoes are moderately dirty, spray the cleaner on the boots and wipe it away with a towel and achieve a nice, glossy look by the end. However, if the condition is too rough, try leaving the spray on a little longer to allow the leather to absorb the materials and make it easier for you to wipe it off in one go.

That being said, an excellent natural alternative for your leather work boots is the classic Saddle soap. It is packed with ingredients like lanolin and beeswax to give a smooth and polished look to help you stand out from the crowd. You can use it by solely working it into a lather and using a cloth or brush to work it deep inside the shoe and break down the dirt and bacteria from the surface.

Step #3: Wipe Off the Excess

Once the product has done its magic, you are likely to notice residual lather on the shoes. You can wipe this using a microfiber cloth and allow the shoes to dry for a few hours. Remember to avoid heat while drying your boots, as it can crack the leather and shorten its lifespan to a few months.

The Insides

As for the insoles, you should pay special attention to obtaining a deeper clean as this is where all the bacteria, precipitation, and dust clogs up to cause an unpleasant odor.

How do you do that?

Simple. Clean it and let it air dry overnight.

Here’s a step by step guide to help you clean the insoles of your shoes:

Step #1: Wash the insoles

After you’ve detached the outsoles from the insole, pop in the insole in the washing machine and let it run on mild settings. However, if feasible, it’s best to do it by hand to preserve its soft material and customize the process using a low-pH shampoo.

If you’re hand-washing the insoles, I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes for the water to kill the bacteria and soften the material for you to scrub it later.

Check to see if the odor is completely gone. If not, give it another spin to help get rid of every last gunk from your insoles. After that, use a damp cloth to absorb all the residue and moisture from the cleaning and make sure it’s completely free of chemicals.

Step #2: Air Dry Your Work Boots

Air drying is a crucial element of the entire cleaning process to ensure that you get your boots back in brand new condition. However, as recommended for the outsides of the shoes, the use of heat is strongly discouraged since it will lead to your shoes inevitably losing their traction and, with that, their quality.

Step #3: Use Powder to Prevent Sweat Absorption in the First Place

As the insoles have been dried overnight, they will be completely free from germs, dust, bacteria, and sweat. However, standing for hours and drenching them in sweat is a common occurrence when it comes to working boots, forcing you to repeat the entire tedious process.

To prevent this hassle, apply a substantial amount of baking soda in each sock and place them inside your shoes overnight (yes, again) to enhance its ability to absorb sweat in the first place. This will keep the odor at bay while also extending your cleaning cycle.

Lastly, to keep your work boots in exceptional condition, it’s essential to be consistent with regular cleaning and getting to the point where you have to carry out numerous washes to get rid of the stench.


Coming to the end of the guide, unlike many other types of shoes, you need to pay close attention to your high-quality work boots that are prone to losing their performance if not washed right.

In fact, carrying out a wrong cleaning procedure can cause more harm than good in the long run. Thus, make sure your shoes are ready to take on the heavy wear and tear of office work, equip yourself with the right techniques, mild products, and adequate preventive strategies to ensure you never have to put up with any embarrassing shoe stories again.

Once you excel at that, you can focus on the task rather than breaking your sweat because of your soiled shoes.