Leather is a sturdy material and a great choice for work boots. Apart from their outstanding durability, leather work boots will also protect your feet against the elements, on and off the job site. Leather work boots are also breathable, thus keeping your feet cool and comfortable. However, leather work boots don’t come cheap. Most leather work boots come with a higher price tag, compared to those made of synthetic materials. Therefore, if you want to protect your investment and continue enjoying the various benefits that leather work boots offer, you need to know how to clean your leather boots properly. If you own a pair of leather work boots, here are some tips for cleaning them and keeping them in great condition.

Removing Grease Stains

Oil and grease stains can be hard to remove from a leather surface. And if the stain is not removed within the shortest time possible, then it can leave a permanent mark on your leather work boots. The good news is that you don’t require expensive materials to remove grease stains from your leather boots. You will just need talcum powder and a lint-free soft cloth. A microfiber piece of cloth will also work well. First, blot the grease stain using the microfiber cloth and remove as much of the substance as possible. Once you’ve done that, you then need to cover the entire stain using the talcum powder. Wheat germ, corn starch, and other absorbent materials can also work in place of talcum powder.

After applying the talcum powder on the spot, allow it to sit overnight. The absorbent material will draw out the oil and grease out of the leather. You just need to brush off the powder in the morning and the grease or oil stain will be gone. In case your leather boots have a protective finish on the surface, then a water-based leather cleaner should be enough to remove the stains. For serious oil and grease stains, then you should leather degreasers. Apart from talcum powder, you can also use liquid detergent to remove grease stains from shoes. After removing the stain, you should apply a stain to your leather work boots, to make it easier to remove future spills.

Scuffed Boots

Whether you are a construction worker or you spend most of your workdays in a busy kitchen, your leather work boots will get some scuffs and scratches from time and time. Most worksites are full of rough materials and surfaces, which can damage the outer surface of your leather work boots. If you fail to remove or fix those scratches or scuff marks, they will eventually weaken the leather, thus putting the safety of your feet at risk. Besides that, scuff marks will also make your boots appear ugly. The good news is that there are some readily available hacks that you can use to fix scratches and scuffs on your leather work boots without having to take them to the cobbler or even replacing them.

Before you make any attempt to fix scuff marks on your boots, you need to prepare them adequately. Scratches and scuff marks break up your work boots’ smooth leather surface, thus creating small pits. With time, grime and dirt will accumulate in these pits. Eventually, your leather work boots will begin to crack. Therefore, you need to stop this from happening as soon as possible. First, make sure you clean your work boots thoroughly, to remove this grime and dirt. The cleaning method you will use will depend on whether the leather used to make your boots is finished or unfinished. You also need to check whether the boots are treated or untreated. This information is available on the shoebox or the tag attached to the shoes. If the leather is untreated, then you should use a cleaner that is specifically designed for untreated leather.

First, remove the dirt or stains on the surface using a soft-bristled brush. After that, wipe your shoes clean, using soap and warm water. Make sure you wipe the whole leather surface. Wipe them at least 2 to 3 times, to ensure you’ve removed all the dirt and grime. If you are having a hard time removing the dirt lodged within the scratches, then you should stuff your boots with old newspapers. Once you’ve finished this process, you should then allow your shoes to dry away from direct sunlight, and then rub them one last time. After this, the shoes are ready for scuff repairs. The method you will use to repair the scuffs will depend on the extent of the damage.

  • Fixing small scuffs: If your leather work boots have light or minor scratches, then you should repair them immediately. To fix these scuff marks, you just need a piece of microfiber cloth and some olive oil or vinegar – preferably white vinegar. White vinegar is a natural and effective way of cleaning most household items, including leather. You simply apply some vinegar or olive oil on the microfiber piece of cloth, and then apply it directly to the scuffed area. Do this continuously for up to 5 minutes, and then let the boots sit for approximately 24 hours. When the leather absorbs the olive oil or vinegar, it will swell a bit, thus making the scuff marks or scratches less noticeable. Petroleum jelly is also an effective substance for fixing scuffed leather boots. If you have some in your house, apply a substantial amount to a soft piece of cloth and rub the scuffed area in circular motions. Allow it to sit for around ten minutes or more. After that, you just need to wipe off the excess amounts and your leather boots will look much better. Make sure you check the label of the petroleum jelly before applying it. If it has added fragrance or color, then you should avoid it, since it can damage the leather. And if you are looking for a fast yet effective means of fixing minor scuffs on your leather boots, then you can use a hairdryer. If you opt for this method, then you should ensure it’s in a warm heat setting. You then use it to blow over the scratched surface, as you massage the leather using your hands.
  • Dealing with major scratches: Applying white vinegar and petroleum jelly, or blowing your shoes using a hairdryer will not fix major scratches. So, how do you fix major scuff marks or scratches on leather? First, remove the excess leather from around the affected area. If the excess leather is not too much, then you can simply sand it away using fine-grit sandpaper. And if you are dealing with a lot of leather, then you can cut it using a razor blade or a sharp knife. Once you’ve removed the excess leather, you should wipe the area clean. After that, apply some shoe wax in the affected area and fill the entire crack. Allow the wax to dry and then finish off the process by applying a light layer of leather cream polish. The leather cream polish will help to maintain the look and consistency of the leather.

Cleaning Salt Stains

During wet or snowy winters, salt used to clear roads and pavements can soak into your leather work boots, leaving large white spots and stains. If you fail to remove or clean these stains quickly, the salt can permanently cause the leather to dry and crack. And over time, your boots will disintegrate. Fortunately, removing salt stains from your work boots is not a difficult process and you can do it using readily available substances. To remove salt stains from your leather work boots, you will need, an onion, white vinegar, a piece of clean cloth, WD-40 and clean water. First, you should try wiping off the salt stains using soft cloth or sponge soaked in clean water. If the salt stains are still fresh, then this procedure will work. However, if the stains are older, then you should try to wipe them off using white vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar at the moment, then you can also rub a piece of sliced onion on the stains. If the salt stains are still not coming off, then you should use WD-40. Apart from removing the salt stains, WD-40 will also help to waterproof your leather work boots. Wipe the shoes using a damp cloth and remove any residue onion or white vinegar from the leather. Allow your boots to air-dry. Never dry your leather work boots using heat, since it will make the leather to lose moisture and crack. You should also note that cleaning your work boots with vinegar repeatedly can be harsh on the leather. Therefore, you should consider conditioning them or polishing them after you’ve removed the stains.

Cleaning the Interior of your Work Boots

If you wear your work boots regularly, they might develop some unpleasant odors. Therefore, once you’ve finished cleaning the exterior of your boots, you also need to take care of their interior. Cleaning the interior of your work boots is a straightforward process since you are not dealing with any stains. First, you should spray vinegar to both boots, and then let them air-dry. Once they are dry, you should then put a generous amount of baking soda inside the boots, and let them sit overnight. In the morning, you just need to shake them to remove the excess baking soda, and they will be nice and fresh.

Final Thoughts

Your leather work boots are more than just a conventional pair of shoes. They will protect your feet against various elements, thus helping you to remain comfortable throughout. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to take care of them. Cleaning them regularly and taking care of them properly will help to maintain their structural integrity, extend their lifetime and save you money.

About the Author Cindy

Hello, I'm Cindy. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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