How to Clean Steel Toe Work Boots

Do You Need to Clean Your Steel Toe Work Boots?
Are Your Steel-toe Work Boots Dirty & in Need of a Thorough Clean? Read on To Uncover the Best Ways To Get Rid of Dirt Fast and Effectively!
How to Clean Steel Toe Work Boots

Knowing how to clean your steel toe work boots, will ensure the longevity of your boots. This will also help you to keep it in tip top condition.

This ensures your workplace safety and lengthens the lifespan of your boots.

Cleaning and maintaining your work boots religiously extends their lifespan significantly.

Having dirty work boots exposes you to contracting nasty foot conditions like athlete’s foot.

Rather than spend an arm and a leg on replacing your work boots frequently due to poor maintenance, or run your feet into a rut with bacteria, equip yourself with the methods on how to clean your steel toe work boots that we’ve compiled in this article.

In this article, we’ll shed light on:

    Our editorial gang at MyBestWorkBoots strives to bring you the hottest industry developments. With results from hardcore testing, we put together this proficient review of how to clean your steel toe work boots.

    Let’s begin.

    Why Should You Clean Your Work Boots?

    You should clean your work boots, most importantly, to keep them in the best condition possible.

    This ensures your workplace safety and lengthens the lifespan of your boots.

    This is especially true when you consider the average cost of a good pair of work boots.

    Cleaning is even more important when working in fields that take a beating.

    Cleaning your boots will help you ensure that they are in good condition and that no pieces are broken or falling off, presenting a challenge to your well-being.

    How Often Should You Clean Your Work Boots?

    You should clean your work boots as often as necessary, depending on your work environment – how frequently your boots are exposed to moisture, dirt, or other unwanted material. 

    This doesn’t mean you can’t do it every week or two, but as long as you clean them, you should be OK as soon as you see they need it.

    Pro tip 

    You should apply a waterproofing protective coating or chemical to your work boots every 2 to 3 weeks to ensure that it does not fully wear off before applying more.

    Identify Your Work Boot Material

    Identify your work boot material before you start cleaning your boots; you need to know what material they are made of to clean them in the best way possible and ensure that you cause no damage to your work boot.

    The reason for this is that different materials necessitate different cleaning instructions.

    You can easily harm or destroy a material if you attempt to clean it improperly.

    Because you don’t want that to happen, it’s critical to understand the proper cleaning recommendations for your boot material.

    What Common Materials Are Work Boots Made Of?

    The common materials that work boots are made of are leather, suede, nubuck, synthetic, and rubber.

    Although work boots are made of various materials, these are the most common.

    Let’s look at each of these in more detail.


    Leather is the most common material that work boots are made of. 

    These boots are incredibly sturdy, but they also have a longer lifespan. 

    Once worn in, these boots are quite pleasant to wear and are frequently waterproof.


    The beautiful thing about suede boots is that they are usually comfier and lighter than regular leather boots.

    They are also reasonably durable, allowing them to last for an extended period; the only drawback is that they can easily become soiled, and some chemical stains may be difficult to remove.


    Nubuck is a type of leather sanded or buffed to give it a grainy appearance.

    This extends the lifespan of your work boot. 

    Remember that this sort of leather is more difficult to maintain and can be damaged far more easily than regular leather.


    Synthetic boots are those constructed from non-natural materials.

    Examples of synthetic work moot materials are faux leather, nylon, polyester, acetate, acrylic, spandex, orlon, latex, and Kevlar. 

    These fabrics typically keep their shape much better and are more resistant to wear and strain.

    They are also more resistant to water than natural materials.


    Rubber boots are excellent choices for those who work in environments with a lot of water or moisture.

    While they are waterproof and easy to clean, they are difficult to adjust and can be somewhat cumbersome and bulky to walk in at times. 

    Methods of Washing Different Steel Toe Work Boots

    Washing Your Entire Leather Steel Toe Work Boot

    Washing your entire leather steel toe work boot will require certain items and steps. 

    What you’ll require:

    • Good quality mild detergent.
    • Any mild shampoo.
    • Baking soda
    • A lint-free cloth
    • Socks
    • A large plastic bag with a zip.

    The steps to take are as follows:

    1. First and foremost, remember to remove the insoles from the boots so that they can be washed individually and carefully.
    2. Clean the insoles with a mild detergent to eliminate the germs and remove the odor because the bacteria that causes the odor is usually found in the insoles.
    3. Combine the mild shampoo and warm water to produce a soap-water solution.
    4. Using a soft lint-free cloth and a soap-water solution, thoroughly wipe the interior of the boots.
    5. Soak the insides of the boots in water to remove the soap-water solution.
    6. Clean the outside of the boots with the cloth and soap-water solution. While cleaning the leather fibers, use gentle circular motions with your fingers.
    7. Thoroughly dry the inside and exterior of the boots with a blow dryer. When the boots are dry from the dryer, place them outside to absorb the sun’s rays.
    8. Place 2 tablespoons of baking soda in each sock separately to remove the odor. Store them overnight.
    9. The baking soda will remove all of the smell from the boots and completely freshen them.

    Cleaning Stained Steel Toe Work Boots

    There are several methods of cleaning stained steel toe work boots, especially if they are discolored with grease or water-based dirt.

    To clean grease from your work boots using talcum powder, the steps to follow are:

    1. Blot the oil from the boots using a microfiber cloth, trying to remove as much of the stain as possible.
    2. Don’t apply too much pressure, or you will uproot the fibers from the boots’ material.
    3. Take the talcum powder and cover the grease-stained area with it.
    4. Allow the powder to rest on the boot overnight.
    5. Using the microfiber cloth, remove the powder from the boots once more. With this technique, you will remove all of the residual stains from the boots.

    To clean water-based dirt stains from your work boots using lime juice or tartar cream, the steps to follow are as follows:

    1. Apply the lime juice or tartar cream to the discolored area.
    2. Using the soft lint-free cloth, gently rub the place in circular motions.
    3. Using the cloth, remove the lime juice or tartar cream.
    4. Allow the boots to dry before wearing them thoroughly.

    Washing Suede Steel Toe Boots

    Washing your suede steel toe work boot will require certain items and steps. 

    What you will require:

    • Special scrub shoe brush
    • Sodium bicarbonate
    • A cloth

    The steps to take are as follows:

    1. Gently rub the stained regions of the boots with the special scrub shoe brush.
    2. Apply a few sodium bicarbonate drops to the stained areas and leave them overnight.
    3. Use the cloth to rub off the sodium bicarbonate, which will also remove the stains!
    4. Let the boots air dry completely.
    5. Condition them.

    Washing Nubuck Steel Toe Work Boots

    Washing your nubuck steel toe work boot will require certain items and steps. 

    What you will require:

    • A soap-water solution
    • A toothbrush
    • A lint-free cloth

    The steps to take are as follows:

    1. Remove the dirt from your nubucks using the toothbrush.
    2. Dip the cloth into the dish containing the soap-water solution.
    3. Clean the outside of your boots with a cloth.
    4. Remove the insoles and wash them individually with mild soap.
    5. Using the soap-water solution and the cloth, clean the inside of the boots once more.
    6. Allow the boots to air dry completely.
    7. Apply an excellent conditioner to give them the nutrients and shine they require.
    8. Lastly, don’t forget to spray the boots with a waterproofing spray.

    Using A Soap-Water Solution to Clean Your Steel Toe Boots

    Washing your steel toe work boots using a soap-water solution and a piece of microfiber cloth will require certain steps. 

    The steps to take are as follows:

    1. Combine a few drops of dish soap or a mild shampoo with water in a bowl.
    2. Dip the microfiber cloth in the bowl.
    3. Using the microfiber cloth, gently massage the dirt off the boots in small circular motions until the entire boot is clean.
    4. Using another clean and moist microfiber cloth, remove all of the soap residues from the boots.
    5. Dry your boots by placing them under a fan.

    How to Remove the Odor From Steel Toe Work Boots

    It’s possible to remove the odor from steel toe work boots using a variety of methods, including: 

    • Essential oils 
    • Disinfectant spray
    • Baking soda
    • Baking soda and baking powder combination.
    • Vinegar and salt combination.
    • Lemon and vinegar combination.
    • Vinegar and ammonia combination.
    • Baking soda and vinegar combination.
    • Soap and water.
    • Lemon juice

    Steel toe work boots are intended to give you ultimate foot protection; thus, they can withstand the demands of work.

    However, these boots can develop a foul stench over time. 

    Because they are often pricey, you cannot discard them once they begin to smell.

    If you have stinky or foul-smelling steel toe boots, you must clean them thoroughly. 

    Let’s look into these odor-ridding methods in more detail.

    Essential Oils 

    While cleaning and disinfection are important, essential oils can be utilized to conceal lingering odors.

    Even if you do everything possible to remove odors, some will linger. 

    The natural aroma of essential oils will disguise the odors of your work boots.

    Massage a few drops of tea tree, peppermint, or rosemary oil onto your boot material at night.

    After that

    Put essential oils on your boots, store them in a dry place. 

    Essential oils have antibacterial properties as well as a pleasing aroma.

    As a result, it could work well as a perfume, hand soap, or deodorant alternative.

    Disinfectant Spray

    Apply a pharmaceutical-grade disinfectant spray to your work boots to remove bad odors.

    Alternatively, to make an effective disinfectant, combine vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and essential oil.

    Apply the mixture to the insides of the boots.

    It may not be able to remove the stench immediately, but it will destroy the bacteria that is creating it. 

    If you’re going to use vinegar, combine it with essential oils and air fresheners. 

    You should use an air freshener because vinegar has an unpleasant odor.

    Baking Soda

    Baking soda is a popular home ingredient that contains carbon dioxide, which is great for absorbing odors from your steel toe work boots. 

    To clean your steel toe boots with baking soda, follow these steps:

    1. Pour a bottle of water and a little soap into a basin of warm water.
    2. Soak your stinky boots in this water for 15 to 20 minutes.
    3. Then, take your add baking soda to a bowl of water.
    4. Soak your steel toe boots in this solution for 15 minutes more.
    5. Wash the insides of steel toe boots with a cleaning substance like bleach after removing the odor. Be careful not to get any of the bleach on the outside of your work boot, as this may change the material’s color.

    Baking Powder

    Baking powder can also be used to eliminate odors from steel toe boots.

    This strategy is also quite effective. 

    To clean your steel toe boots using baking powder, follow these steps:

    1. In a cup of water, dissolve some salt.
    2. Take a bowl and fill it halfway with baking powder.
    3. Combine everything into a container large enough to soak your work boots.
    4. Soak your steel toe boots for 15 minutes.
    5. After cleaning, thoroughly rinse them with water.

    Vinegar & Salt Combination

    Steel toe boots can also be cleaned with vinegar and salt. This is an effective method. 

    Do the following to clean your steel toe boots with vinegar and salt:

    1. Fill a bowl with water and add some salt.
    2. Apply the vinegar to your steel toe work boots.
    3. Allow your boots to soak for 15 minutes.
    4. After that, sprinkle some baking soda on them to absorb the unpleasant stench.
    5. Allow them to soak for another 15 minutes.
    6. Wash them with warm water and soap after cleaning.

    Lemon & Vinegar Combination

    You can also use lemon and vinegar to remove the odor from steel toe boots. This is a successful strategy. 

    If you want to clear the odor from steel toe boots with lemon and vinegar, do the following:

    1. Fill a bowl halfway with water and add some vinegar to it.
    2. Place your stinky steel toe boots in it for 15 minutes.
    3. After that, pour some lemon juice into the baking soda-containing basin.
    4. Soak your steel toe boots in it for 15 minutes more.
    5. Wash them with warm water and soap after cleaning.

    Vinegar & Ammonia Combination

    Using vinegar and ammonia is another great method to remove the odor from steel toe boots.

    Do the following to clean your steel toe boots with vinegar and ammonia:

    1. Pour some ammonia into a bottle of water.
    2. Add this mixture into a bowl containing baking soda.
    3. Mix everything.
    4. Soak your steel toe boots in this solution for 15 minutes more.
    5. After cleaning, thoroughly rinse them with water.

    Baking Soda & Vinegar Combination

    A baking soda and vinegar combination is a good method to remove odor from your steel toe work boots. 

    Do the following to clean your steel toe boots using baking soda and vinegar:

    1. Prepare a bottle of water and a small amount of soap in a bowl.
    2. Put your stinky boots in this solution for 15 minutes to get them soaked.
    3. Then, add baking soda and vinegar to a basin.
    4. Soak your steel toe boots in this solution for 15 minutes more.
    5. After cleaning, thoroughly rinse them with water.

    Soap & Water

    If you wish to use soap and water to remove the stink from your steel toe boots, simply do the following:

    1. Rub soap on the outside of your steel toe work boots; allow this to settle for a few minutes.
    2. Then rinse with clean water to remove any remaining soap.
    3. Repeat this technique until the odor is gone.
    4. Allow your boots to dry thoroughly after washing them. 

    Lemon Juice

    Lemon contains a lot of moisture, making it useful as an odor remover. 

    If you wish to clean your steel toe boots with lemon juice, use the following measures right away:

    1. Rub the bottom of the inside of your work boots with half a lemon, being careful not to rub the leather.
    2. Allow it to sit for about an hour.
    3. Then use warm water and soap to clean them. 

    Causes of Odor in Steel Toe Work Boots

    The causes of odor in steel toe work boots include dirt, toxins, and sweat. 

    Let’s take a closer look at each of these causes.


    Steel toe work boots are frequently utilized in environments with a lot of dirt.

    Work boots are also worn on building sites, which have a lot of dirt, gravel, and other things. 

    Grime can easily get into your boots, making it tough to clean dirt from the interior of your steel toe boots. 

    The more you wear them, the more dirt will accumulate in them. 

    The dirt will emit an unpleasant stench, especially over time.


    The materials used to make steel toe boots frequently have a foul odor.

    Steel toe work boots often include benzene, toluene, and xylene, among others.

    Certain non-metal materials can induce atoms in the air to mix with oxygen and generate odorous compounds.

    Watch out

    Bacteria and mold spores can be found in the air.

    These bacteria can contribute to foul odors in your work boots.

    The storage of your boots can also bring an odor about.

    For example, storing your boots in a damp area could result in odor.

    Storing your boots for an extended period can cause the material to alter, also influencing the smell of your boots.


    When you work in steel toe boots, your feet sweat profusely, contributing to the foul odor you sometimes experience. 

    Steel-toe boots should be worn with socks.

    Socks can assist in absorbing the sweat and keep your feet and work boots fresh.

    9 Steps to Washing Your Steel Toe Work Boots in the Washer

    The 9 steps to washing your steel toe work boots in the washer are:

    1. Reading the label.
    2. Preparing the boots.
    3. Protecting your boots.
    4. Preparing the machine.
    5. Treating different stains.
    6. Select the right cycle.
    7. Cleaning the inside of your work boots.
    8. Dry your boots thoroughly.
    9. Conditioning your work boots.

    Let’s unpack each of these.

    Read the Label

    When washing your work boots, the first step is to read the care label. 

    Next, read the care instructions, which are usually printed in small characters on the insole of your boot. 

    It’s important to follow the instructions for each work boot as unsuitable care methods could damage your boot.

    Leather, for example, is one such material, and some cleaning products can harm it.

    You must wash your work boots using a different method other than a washing machine if a warning on the label advises that they cannot be machine washed. 

    Prepare the Boots

    If your label does not indicate that you can use a washing machine to clean your work boots, you need to find another way to clean them. 

    To do so

    Gently remove any traces of mud and filth.

    Other cleaning chemicals should be used instead of plain soap, like white vinegar or baking soda.

    These will safely remove dirt and other pollutants from leather but do not leave them on the leather for too long. 

    After removing all the traces of dirt from your work boots, follow these steps: 

    1. Put your work boots in the washing machine.
    2. Begin washing your work boots with cold water.
    3. Add some enzyme-based detergent once the cold water has run.

    The detergent will help you with the removal of dirt and grime.

    If the label forbids using particular cleaning agent components, remove the dirt with bicarbonate of soda before putting them in your washing machine.

    Protect Your Boots

    You should protect your boots after they have been thoroughly cleaned. 

    Any extra detergent and wash soda must be removed from your boots with a soft towel. 

    Use a warm fan on your boots to evaporate any extra water.

    Take a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag and place your work boots and laces inside.

    This will keep them from becoming entangled. 


    Shoes and boots cause noise in the washing machine; using the pillowcase is easy to reduce the noise levels during the wash cycle. 

    You can also use towels to act as a barrier.

    This will prevent your boots from coming into contact with the drum during the washing process.

    This simple technique protects your boots and helps to lower noise levels inside the washing machine.

    Prepare the Machine

    It’s important to prepare the machine because washing big and heavy things can cause harm to the drum.

    To do this, you must lighten the weight of your boots. 

    You may insert a pair of trousers, towels, or cushions into the washing machine during the wash cycle.

    The goal is to decrease the boot’s overall weight and size so that it does not damage the drum during rotation.

    The boots’ covering is unaffected by cool water.

    You should also be cautious when choosing a detergent.

    Make sure the colored detergent is of excellent grade.

    Before adding your towels and shoes, add the detergent to the drum.

    Treating Different Odors & Stains

    Your boots may be affected by different odors and stains; the goal of washing your boots is to remove these. 

    Steel toe work boots should be cleaned with a toothbrush or a piece of cloth with a damp sponge inside. 


    Using a pair of gloves, you can use a facecloth to remove stains from your boots by hand before the wash cycle.

    Select the Right Cycle

    Select the right cycle when washing your work boots in the washing machine, as it offers several cycles for washing various materials. 

    Choose a cycle that is suited for your boots.

    The most common program is “wool,” but each washing machine model is different.

    As a result, before picking a suitable cycle, carefully read the directions; choosing a gentle cycle is best for your boots.

    Check the water level within the drum during the wash to ensure it is within range.

    This will keep your boots from becoming fully wet or overly dry during the wash.

    Make sure they are not touching each other or any other things inside the drum at any moment while it is spinning.

    Cleaning the Inside

    Cleaning the inside of your boots during the wash cycle should be your priority.

    The inside is crucial; it influences the scent of your boots and their capacity to retain their shape.

    The first step is to clean the insoles with a moist towel.

    If you want to do a thorough cleaning, remove your shoes and clean them outside the drum.

    Remove any dirt or stains from the leather surface with a toothbrush or sponge.

    After cleaning

    Place them in a cotton bag and then in another bag with holes so that moisture does not build inside. 

    Because the trash doesn’t take itself out, nor does the dirt in your work boots, they must be cleaned after each use. 

    Dry Your Work Boots Thoroughly

    Dry your work boots thoroughly after cleaning them; you can use a fan to remove the moisture.

    Alternatively, you can place them in the sun until they are dry.

    Allow your boots to dry for 24 hours before wearing them after cleaning to ensure they stay dry for a long period.


    After all of your hard work, you should condition and safeguard your work boots.

    If they are made of leather, use a leather conditioner; if they are made of suede, use a soft cloth and apply wax to it. 

    This will keep your shoes in good condition for a long period. 

    You can also use conditioners to help your boots retain their original shape.

    Can You Put Steel Toe Work Boots in the Dryer?

    You can put steel toe work boots in the dryer if all of the directions in this article are followed.

    Always ensure that you follow the care instructions on your work boot to confirm if it’s safe to place them in the dryer.

    These minor features are sometimes disregarded, yet they have a huge impact on your boots’ long-term durability.

    Before putting the steel toe boots in the dryer, ensure that they are absolutely clean. 

    The most common blunder

    Often shoe manufacturers is refusing to provide cleaning instructions.

    If your boots don’t come with care instructions, contact the boot manufacturer and request them.

    Alternatively, you could get your boots cleaned at a dry-cleaning facility.

    Most dry-cleaning establishments do not disclose technical information, so you should request it before getting your work boots cleaned. 

    Many dry-cleaning companies also sell detailed instructions on cleaning boots thoroughly without destroying them.

    What’s the Best Way to Maintain Your Work Boots?

    The best way to maintain your work boots is not to wear them with dirty insoles; wear clean socks, keep your feet clean, dry your boots, and use a dryer sheet regularly.

    Let’s investigate these.

    Don’t Wear Dirty Insoles.

    Don’t wear dirty insoles in your work boots, as this lowers your boots’ longevity and can lead to foul odors.

    Wearing new insoles inside your boots is recommended to create a new environment for your feet after washing them.

    Ensure the insoles can be readily removed before washing them, and clean the entire inside of your boots before reinserting them for wear.

    Wear Socks 

    Wearing socks with your steel toe work boots is highly recommended to maintain their freshness and your foot health.

    If you want to wear steel toe boots without socks, you should wash your feet frequently because they don’t give the greatest environment for your feet.

    Wearing socks after washing your feet every morning is beneficial for your feet since they do not smell as quickly as wearing them without socks. 


    If you wear your work boots frequently or daily, you will need to wear socks with them, or else trapped germs and dust will generate an undesirable odor in your boots.

    Keep Your Feet Clean

    Keeping your feet clean is one of the best ways to maintain your work boots and ensure that bad odor doesn’t get to your boot. 

    Regularly bathe and clean your arches, toes, and entire feet; scrub them until they are squeaky clean to avoid scrubbing the dirt from your work boots as frequently. 

    Dry Your Boots Frequently

    Drying your work boots frequently is a great way to maintain them and avoid the spread of fungi and bacteria that could lead to you contracting nasty foot conditions.

    Snow and rain will keep your work boots wet all winter.

    For your boots to dry fast, you must store them in a well-ventilated environment.

    Keep them on a high shelf, preferably near a window. 

    You can also keep them dry by placing them near a fan or leaving them out in the sun.

    Keep in mind

    Germs will grow in your work boots if you do not dry them regularly.

    Never leave wet boots on the ground for a lengthy amount of time.

    You don’t want to make them a breeding ground for bacteria. 

    You won’t have to worry about how to clean your steel toe boots as often if you dry them between uses.

    Be warned

    Don’t expose your work boots to direct heat to dry them.

    Direct heat, like fire, a heater, and using a hairdryer, will damage the material of your work boots, and you don’t want that.

    Use a Dryer Sheet

    Another simple solution to maintain your work boots and eliminate any odor is to use dryer sheets.

    Dryer sheets absorb odors while also emitting a nice odor.

    You can keep your boots smelling fresh by using a simple dryer sheet.

    Common Questions

    Can You Put Steel Toe Boots in the Dryer?

    Can You Put Steel Toe Boots in the Washing Machine?

    How to Clean the Outside of Steel Toe Boots?

    In Conclusion

    Cleaning your work boots is vital in keeping them in good condition. 

    However, most people do not adequately clean their boots. Many people have worn the same pair of work boots for years without finding a way to clean them. This is a huge blunder. 

    If you do not clean your boots, they will become dirtier with each trip to work. Furthermore, your boots become another item stuck at the back of your closet or garage that you no longer utilize.

    You also run the risk of running up a high work boot bill if you don’t maintain your work boots and constantly buy new pairs. It makes more sense to take meticulous care of the pair you already have.

    As a result, it is critical to understand how to best maintain and clean your steel toe work boots, as well as other work boots, by following this advice and washing them regularly without damaging them.

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    James Blake

    Written by
    James Blake
    Work Safety Expert

    James has made it his mission to find the top boots on the market.

    He’s passionate about matching the right boot to the right application because different boots are a perfect fit for different uses.