How to Clean Leather Work Boots with Household Items

Last Updated on November 3, 2021 by Howard Robey

Human beings have used leather for centuries for various purposes such as jackets, furniture, and shoes. Leather is supple, strong, and durable. It is a natural material that can be easily cut and molded into the desired shape. Since it is a natural material, it is comfortable, and most importantly, it is breathable.

How to Clean Leather Work Boots with Household Items

These characteristics of leather make it perfect for shoes. Regardless of the development of high-quality synthetic materials for shoes, leather shoes remain the most popular shoe type around the world. Leather shoes account for 52% of the total leather trade in the world.

Everyone loves leather shoes. Leather shoes are decent and durable. However, leather shoe maintenance and cleaning demands are a bit different compared to synthetic shoes. In this article, we will discuss how you can take care of your leather shoes with household items. The article aims at educating you about your leather shoe maintenance.

Let’s grab some quality hacks to condition and clean your leather boots.

How to Clean Leather Work Boots with Household Items

Please note that we have tested these tricks for cleaning leather boots on our shoes. It is possible that some of the methods listed below may not work for you. It is best to go through the entire method before you begin applying it to your shoes.

Method 1: Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioner smoothens and makes your hair shine. Leather is somewhat similar to the texture of your hair because it is made from animal skin and hides. Therefore the conditioner works in the same way as it does on our hair.

Things Needed

  • Hair conditioner
  • Water
  • Toothbrush
  • Wet cloth
  • Mixing bowl


  • Mix some hair conditioner with water in a mixing bowl in liquid consistency.
  • Rub the mixture on your leather boots with an old toothbrush gently in a circular motion. Pay special attention to dirty spots on your shoes.
  • Let your shoes dry for 5-10 minutes.
  • Use a wet cloth to remove the conditioner from the shoes. Make sure that you don’t wet your shoes.
  • Let your boots air dry or use a hairdryer.

Method 2:  Talcum Powder

We all know what talcum powder does. You all probably don’t know that it can be used to remove grease in the kitchen and on your leather boots. So, now that you do know. Let’s try this to get some squeaky clean leather work boots.

Things Needed

  • Talcum powder
  • Soft bristle toothbrush


  • Puff a generous amount of talcum powder on your leather shoes.
  • Let it rest on your boots for one hour. Make sure you place your shoes in a non-airy room and turn off the fan after applying talcum powder. The powder will absorb all the grease and stains on your work boots.
  • Now use your toothbrush and rub off the excess powder along with the stubborn grease and stains.
  • The good thing about this method is that there is no chance for your shoes to get wet, and you can easily remove the leftover powder with a dry cloth.

Method 3: Baking Soda

Baking soda is another common household item that has marvelous cleaning capabilities. You can use it to clean hard water stains, oil stains, unblock the kitchen sink and remove baked-on residue from your pans. You probably didn’t know that you can use baking soda to clean your leather boots as well. Let’s find out how.

Things Needed

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wet cloth
  • Spray bottle


  • Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a mixing bowl and make a thin paste that you can pour into a spray bottle.
  • Make sure that the paste is not thick, and it must be uniform. Moreover, the baking soda must be uniformly mixed in the water.
  • Transfer the paste into the spray bottle and spray on the oil stains. Let the paste sit overnight or at least for 4-5 hours so that it works on the stubborn oil marks on your shoes.
  • Now use the wet cloth piece to scrub the baking soda off the shoes gently.
  • Allow your boots to air-dry or use a hairdryer.

Method 4: Dish Soap

Dish soap can be used for cleaning the dirt from your leather boots. Here’s how

Things Needed

  • Dish soap (liquid)
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cloth


  • Mix some dish soap and water in a mixing bowl.
  • Dip the cloth in the solution and rub your shoes until the stains are removed.
  • Once you have removed the stain, give your boots an overall rub with the soap solution. It will give a uniform shine to your shoes.

Method 5: Vaseline/Toothpaste

Scuff marks appear on leather shoes out of nowhere, and they can be very irritating. You can use Vaseline or toothpaste to remove these pesky marks from your leather work boots.

Things Needed

  • Vaseline or toothpaste
  • Paper towels
  • Wet cloth


  • Apply Vaseline or toothpaste on the scuff marks.
  • Use paper towels or a soft toothbrush to rub the paste or jelly on the marks.
  • Let the paste/jelly site for 15-20 minutes for drying it.
  • Use a wet cloth to wipe off shoes.
  • Dry your shoes in the air or use a hairdryer.

Method 6: Olive Oil

Method 6 Olive Oil

Olive oil has some magical healing powers. It is also best for cooking as it is pure and 100% organic compared to bottled oil commonly sold in the market. Olive oil can be used to polish your leather boots or leather furniture to bring a new-like shine.

You can also use coconut oil, vegetable oil instead of olive oil. The results will be the same.

Things Needed

  • Olive oil
  • Paper towel


  • Pour some drops of extra virgin olive oil on a paper towel.
  • Polish your shoes right away by rubbing the paper towel gently in a circular motion.
  • Rub the leather evenly until it absorbs all the oil.
  • Be patient. You’ll know when to stop; your shoes will start shining in a little while.

Method 7: Vinegar

Salt stains on your leather boots are the most irritating and heart-breaking thing for shoe lovers. All you need is some vinegar to remove the stains and get yourself back in the high vibes over your shoes.

Things Needed

  • Vinegar
  • Mixing bowl
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Dry cloth


  • Begin by adding some vinegar to the water. Warning: never use undiluted vinegar on leather shoes. The ideal mixing ratio is 1 tablespoon in a cup of water.
  • Dip a paper towel in the mixture and rub the salt stains. Make sure you cover the entire surface of the stains and apply enough for removing the stains.
  • Now use a dry cloth/paper towel to remove the excess moisture.

Method 8: Saddle Soap

Method 8 Saddle Soap

Saddle soap is a compound used for cleaning, conditioning, and protecting leather. It contains mild soap, softening ingredients, and preservatives. Saddle soap is best for people who don’t have time to prepare cleaning mixtures from household items.

You would need the following items along with saddle soap.

Things Needed

  • Saddle soap
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Horsehair brush


  • Buff your leather boots with a horsehair brush.
  • Apply some saddle soap on a towel and create some lather.
  • Rub the lather on your boots. Pay special attention to dirty spots on your shoes.
  • Dry your shoes for an impeccable look.

Method 9: Tartar Cream and Lemon Juice    

Method 9 Tartar Cream and Lemon Juice

Please note that this procedure is applicable to light-colored shoes only. DO NOT apply tartar cream and lemon juice on dark brown or black leather shoes. It can cause discoloration or fading. You will need to arrange the following things for this method.

Things Needed

  • Tartar cream
  • Lemon juice
  • Toothbrush
  • Damp cloth


  • Add equal parts of tartar cream and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. You would need 5 tablespoons of lemon juice for one pair of shoes.
  • Form a uniform paste and apply it evenly over your shoes.
  • Let it dry for 30-40 minutes.
  • Gently rub the paste with a damp cloth.
  • Dry your shoes in the sun or use a hairdryer.

Method 10: Hair Serum

Apart from a hair conditioner, you can also use a hair serum to fix your dirty and rough leather boots. Hair serums are known for bringing life back to your hair and making them shine. Let’s see how they do the same for your leather footwear.

Things Needed

  • Hair serum
  • Mild shampoo
  • Lukewarm water
  • Towel
  • Soft bristle toothbrush


  • Remove the dust from your leather boots with the help of a soft bristle toothbrush. Make sure you rub the toothbrush in a circular motion.
  • Apply hair serum over your shoes and let them dry for one hour.
  • Mix mild shampoo and Luke warm water in a mixing bowl.
  • Apply the foamy solution to your shoes with a soft toothbrush. It will clear the serum.
  • Dry your shoes with a towel.
  • Let the shoes dry completely.

How to Clean the Inside of my Work Boots?

When you wear shoes for 8-10 hours in one go without taking them off, they are likely to smell. You change socks daily, wash your feet after taking off your shoes to get rid of the smell in your feet, but you don’t do much about smelly shoes. You would probably clean the outside of your shoes daily and polish leather after a few months but insides rarely get your attention. It is a chore no one likes doing, but you’ll have to do it sooner or later to save yourself from the embarrassment of smelly shoes.

Here’s a rundown of all the things you can use to get rid of smelly boots.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can not only clean the outside of your shoes. It is great for insides as well. Baking soda has magical powers to absorb odors. All you have to do is fill up two old socks with baking soda and place one in each shoe. Let them sit there for a night, and you’ll have odorless shoes in the morning.

Citrus Peeling

Citrus peelings can also eliminate smells from your shoes. All you have to do is place some citrus fruit peelings in your shoes and leave them overnight. You’ll find pleasantly smelling shoes in the morning.


Used teabags (boiled in water without sugar) can do some magic on your smelly shoes. Place a cooled teabag inside your boot for an hour or two. Black tea contains tannins that help remove odors from your shoes.

Replace the Soles

The last remedy for smelly shoes is to replace the sole. The above hacks usually work when it comes to removing smell from shoes, but sometimes the odor-causing microorganisms have penetrated so much in the shoe that nothing seems to drag them out.

The only option left before getting new boots is to replace the sole. Moreover, worn outsoles don’t absorb much moisture, and it causes the smells to permeate the leather.


Which is the best method to clean my leather shoes?

The best method will be according to the type of leather your shoes are made of. Most manufacturers mention which items can be used to clean the shoes. However, if you are not sure about it, then go with commercial cleaning products. These products mention the compatible types and colors on their packaging.

It is best to test your chosen method in a less conspicuous space before applying it to the upper side.

How to use a hairdryer on leather boots?

Make sure you keep the hair dryer at least 2-3 inches away from the leather. Do not use high heat settings. It is always best to go with low/medium heat settings.

Can I wash my leather boots in a washing machine?

No. Leather boots must never be washed in washing machines. Water is bad for leather. You may not notice any immediate effects, but water can degrade leather and reduce the life of your shoes.

Can I use the above procedures on shows with leather overlays?

Yes. You can use the above procedure on shoes with leather overlays but be careful about other fabrics on your shoes. Suede and rubber can get discolored from stuff like tartar and lemon juice.

Will water ruin my leather boots?

Yes. Water is not good for your leather shoes. Leather has some water resistance, but too much water can cause the leather to become wet. Leather is permeable, and water can seep through it. As the leather dries, it becomes stiff and loses its texture and shape. The damage caused by water is permanent. Therefore, you must try your best to keep your leather boots safe from water.

Final Words

Now that we know how to clean the outside and inside of leather work boots, maintaining your shoes in a mint condition will be easy. Leather boots, if taken care of, last for a very long time. You would probably outgrow your shoes, but they won’t go anywhere.

Leave a Comment