How to Clean & Store Winter Boots

A pair of leather boots, a boot brush, and leather shoe polish

Tips for Cleaning Winter Boots

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and this season’s newest shoes just hit the shelves. Spring is here! But before you toss those scuffed up and salt-stained winter boots to the back of your closet, it might be a good idea to clean them first.

By taking care of your winter boots, you’ll be able to wear them longer and protect their original quality. Use this guide to learn how to clean winter boots, store them properly, and safeguard your style with Foot Petals shoe care essentials and accessories.

Woman spraying suede boots with shoe protector spray

Cleaning Boots by Material

Traditional snow boots designed for handling snow, slush, and salt are typically more durable than other types of winter boots. Certain styles like leather knee highs, suede ankle booties, or your favorite pair of UGGs require a little extra care because of the materials they’re made of. Removing scratches, scuffs, or salt stains is easier when you understand how to work with a specific type of material.

Keep reading to find out how to clean your winter boots properly.

Infographic of what you need to clean winter boots by material

Luckily, most products used to clean winter boots are normal household items you can find in your kitchen or bathroom. Still, preventative care is key to keeping your winter booties in the best shape, which is why it’s important to invest in a good shoe care spray.

Leather Boots

Curious how to clean leather boots with salt stains, scuffs, or scratches? Leather boots and booties are a popular choice of footwear in the winter because they’re durable, water-tight, and look classic with any outfit. Here’s how to remove salt stains from boots, restore their shine, and erase unwanted scuffs:

  1. First, determine whether your boots are made of genuine, faux, or patent leather.
  2. Use a clean, dry cloth to gently rub away salt stains.
  3. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Lightly spray the boots and wipe them down with a wet rag.
  4. Once dry, use a cotton ball dipped in olive oil to condition your leather boots and remove scratches. For patent leather, instead apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the outside of the shoe then wipe clean to restore shine.
  5. Finally, waterproof your boots prior to storing with Foot Petals leather shoe spray.

          Suede Boots

          Suede is a type of split leather that has a fuzzy finish. Though ultra chic and perfect for brightening up a dark wintry outfit, suede is more sensitive to the elements than regular leather. Exposure to slush, mud, salt, and any amount of water can ruin a suede bootie and send you searching for ways to clean them ASAP. Here’s how to clean suede boots:

          1. Never use water to clean suede boots, as it can cause staining. Instead, use a dry cloth to dab at any new water stains to soak up as much moisture as possible.
          2. Use a suede shoe brush or a soft bristle toothbrush to gently brush dirt and debris off the surface of the boot.
          3. Next, a clean pencil eraser or nail file can help rub out difficult stains.
          4. Place newspaper inside the boot to absorb any moisture in the toe box.
          5. Spray suede boots with Foot Petals suede protector shoe spray to prevent future staining and water damage.

                  Person brushing a suede boot

                  Fabric or Canvas Boots

                  Sneaker boots and booties with fabric accents have a straightforward cleaning process. However, it is important to check whether your boots are colorfast to avoid potential fading. You might be tempted to toss your canvas booties in the washing machine, but this can ruin the insoles and stitching overtime. Instead, clean fabric boots this way:

                  1. Remove the laces and inner soles of the boots. You can put the laces and the insoles in a lingerie bag to wash on delicate in the washing machine.
                  2. Rinse the boot inside and out with lukewarm water.
                  3. Mix baking soda and water together until it creates a paste, then use a toothbrush to scrub the paste over unwanted stains.
                  4. Once satisfied, rinse the boots again.
                  5. Fill boots with paper towels or newspaper to absorb excess moisture and leave to air dry.

                  Shearling or Sheepskin Boots

                  Though they do keep you warm and stylish in the winter, shearling boots hold up poorly in wet weather, put salt stains on display, and smell bad when damp. Check to see if the boots you own are machine washable. Then, either use a shearling boot cleaner made for cleaning that material or try these steps:

                  1. Lightly wet the outside of the boots with cold water.
                  2. Mix equal parts leather cleaner and water. Dampen a sponge in the solution and use it to clean the surface of the boots.
                  3. Rinse the boots again with a sponge or cloth soaked in clean, cold water.
                  4. Fill boots with paper towels or newspaper to retain shape and leave to air dry in indirect light.
                  5. Once dry, restore the softness and texture of the boot with a suede brush or soft bristle toothbrush.
                  6. Deodorize shearling boots with Foot Petals shoe deodorizer balls.

                            Person wearing shearling boots walking on street

                            Rain Boots

                            Rain boots are durable compared to boots made of suede or sheepskin. While you might want to keep your rain boots handy for those spring showers, cleaning them between the seasons is a smart way to preserve their waterproof quality. Here’s the easiest way to tidy up a trusty pair of rubber boots:

                            1. Soak a rag in water with dish soap.
                            2. Wipe off the exterior of the boots with the soapy rag and rinse clean.
                            3. On a clean, dry rag, apply olive oil and rub the oil over the surface of the boots.
                            4. After restoring their shine, wipe off any excess oil and leave the boots to air dry.

                                  What is the Best Way to Store Winter Boots?

                                  Chances are, when you take your winter boots out of storage next season, you might forget to spray them with a shoe protector before heading out into the first winter storm. So, before storing your boots, always be proactive by safeguarding them with a protective shoe spray.

                                  Stuffing leather, shearling, and suede boots with newspaper prior to storing helps these materials maintain their shape, preventing the toes from flattening or cuffs from sagging.

                                  Shoes and boots being stored in a white cabinet

                                  The key to proper winter boot storage is keeping your shoes in a clean, dry, and temperature-controlled area such as a well-organized closet or a boot rack. For sensitive fabrics like suede, place your boots or booties in a shoe bag to prevent dust from building up on the surface.

                                  Since you might already be prepping your spring capsule wardrobe, be sure to make room in your closet, basement, or spare bedroom for your winter boots as well as space for storing your seasonal clothes.

                                  Other Ways to Safeguard Your Winter Boots

                                  Even a nice, clean pair of boots or booties can still have a left over smell or require additional TLC such as more cushioning or support. Shoes that leak, have an awkward fit, or worn soles could need some repairing if you want to still wear them next winter. Solve all your common shoe problems and boot dilemmas with Foot Petals.

                                  Woman placing heel cups inside suede boot

                                  Our shoe deodorizers are a quick, effortless way to keep winter boots from smelling. If you need to add more traction to a slippery boot, no-slip grips are the perfect stick-on shoe tread to keep you from sliding on icy sidewalks. As for added cushioning and arch support, our ball of foot cushions, ¾ inserts, and under heel cushioning make all the difference in comfort and relief.