Your combat boots have seen it all. Mud, dirt, snow, and rain – they can handle everything. But can you? Because you use them on different terrains, they require some extra care. If you’d like to perform well, you’ll need your shoes in tip-top condition, which is why it’s important to know how to clean military boots.
Military forces have a cleaning routine they’ve been following for decades. However, with advancements in fabrics, it became a bit more challenging. Although some people still use leather, those who fight in hot desert climates often opt for boots made of suede.
If you do your research, you’ll see it’s not that challenging to keep them clean, whether they’re made of suede, synthetic fibers, or leather. Luckily, we’re here to help you, as we’ll go through everything you need to know on how to clean your military boots and keep them in the best condition!
How often should you clean your military boots?
It’s important to let your boots air dry daily, no matter if they’re made of suede or leather. Military boots are made to handle a lot of things, but it’s still crucial to dry them every day, away from direct heat, whether it’s from sunlight or radiators.
You should air-dry your boots 24 hours after a trek. This is a really important step, as it will help you avoid mold, change in shape, and roughness. On top of that, it’s important to brush your boots every day, to get rid of loose soil.
When it comes to deep cleaning, you should do it the moment you notice stains or at least bi-weekly. And the way of doing it depends on the type of boots you have.
How to clean military boots?
Cleaning your combat boots isn’t rocket science. Depending on the material, there are different techniques you can use. Let’s see how to clean military boots, depending on the type you wear.
1. Leather boots
First, it’s important to gather all the supplies you’ll need. They include:
- A drying towel
- Horsehair brush
- Warm water
- Conditioner, vinegar, and linseed oil
- Soft cloth.
The first thing you should do is leave your boots to dry if they’re muddy. Scrubbing wet mud isn’t something you want to do, as it can seep into the leather. Once they’re completely dry, hit the heels of your boots together so that the excess dirt can come off.
After that, it’s time to eliminate any mud or dirt left on your boots. Using a horsehair brush and a damp cloth, take the excess off. Make sure to check the soles too, and don’t apply too much pressure as it can damage the leather.
The next step requires a mixture of one-part vinegar and two-part linseed oil. You’ll use this to condition your boots. With this, you’ll avoid your boots drying too much and cracking. For the best results, let the mixture settle for about 20 minutes.
Next comes the soft cloth or a chamois. Use chamois to buff your boots, or a soft cloth to clean them. It’s important to use a soft one, as any other kind can leave scratches on your leather.
And, lastly, let your boots dry outside. Although it might seem like a good idea at first, it’s important not to place your boots under direct sunlight. A nice shade will be just enough, and it won’t cause the leather on your boots to crack. And no, using a hairdryer is not a good idea. Don’t speed up the process!
2. Suede boots
Until suede boots became popular, not a lot of people wondered how to clean military boots because it was pretty simple, and the routine was passed on through generations. Although it might be a bit trickier, cleaning suede boots is far from impossible.
You’ll only need a soft bristle brush, a mild detergent, and a nylon brush. (And a lot of patience!)
Same as with leather boots, it’s important to let them dry first before starting to scrub the mud off. Once you’re sure the mud has dried completely, you can use a soft bristle brush to remove it. It’s essential to stay patient and not rush through this step, so you can get rid of all the build-ups.
Use your brush to scrub the boots. It might take a bit of time and a lot of nerves, but it’s very much worth it in the end. If there are some stubborn stains, you can use a bit of detergent and scrub them off with a nylon brush.
Make sure not to give up on eliminating any tough stains, and make sure to take breaks if your arms start to feel it. And, lastly, let your boots sit for an hour, or even more. After all the scrubbing and brushing, you’ll be surprised when you see how good they look.
3. Synthetic fiber boots
If you’re a proud owner of a pair of synthetic fiber boots, we’ve got some good news for you. We’re happy to report that you have the easiest type of military shoes to take care of.
You don’t need much and, sometimes, wiping it down with clean water should do the trick. For more stubborn stains, water, a bit of vinegar, and an old toothbrush will help you.
There’s one thing all boots have in common, and that’s the first step of cleaning them. Yes, you guessed it correctly – the first thing you should do is let your synthetic fiber boots dry completely.
After the mud has dried down completely, go ahead and give your boots a good shake or clap them together. That way, you’ll remove all the loose dirt and debris.
If there’s more dirt left on your boots, you can go ahead and use an old toothbrush to brush it off. It can also help you reach all the nooks and crannies that have mud in them.
If there are any more stains left, dip your toothbrush in a mixture of water and vinegar and try brushing them off. You can repeat this as many times as you need to get your boots in perfect condition.
Your next cleaning session will be a lot easier if you spray your boots with a stain protector. Although this step is not a must, it’s pretty handy and can save you some time in the future.
Pay attention to this
Now that we’ve learned how to clean military boots, it’s essential to mention some things you want to avoid doing. Although the whole process is pretty simple, there are still some warnings and tips that are worth mentioning.
It’s crucial that you never put your boots in the washing machine, no matter how tempting it may be. Yes, it might seem like the easiest and quickest way, but that doesn’t mean much if your boots come out damaged to the point of no return.
Although the process of cleaning your combat boots is simple, it takes patience, especially because you use soft brushes for almost everything. However, no matter how fast you want to get it over with, don’t brush your boots with a wire brush. It can damage the material, no matter what it is.
Even though you can’t wash your boots in a washing machine, washing your laces should be perfectly fine. If you don’t think that’s a good idea, you can always soak them in soap and water and wash them by hand.
If your suede boots don’t have a waterproof membrane, don’t worry. You can apply a waterproofing spray that will do a pretty good job of keeping your feet dry. Although it’s not a long-term solution, you can reapply it every time you clean them. It’s a simple and quick step, and it doesn’t take too much effort.
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