Cleaning Your Tactical Boots Made Easy

Anyone wearing tactical boots knows that getting them all dirty is in the “job description”. No matter how busy or tired you may be, you should always make time to clean and take care of them. Not only that this is going to expand their life span, but it’s also going to keep you out of the trouble with your officers too.

As the diversity of tactical boots is impressive (shape, type and materials), let’s see the details on cleaning for different types of tactical boots.

How to clean smooth leather boots

Having leather tactical boots is great; keeping them clean is mandatory so here are the steps to take:

cleaning smooth leather boots

  • Remove the laces
  • Use a soft cloth/brush to get rid of all debris and dirt until all visible grime is gone
  • Combine a leather-safe soap with some warm water in a small recipient. Dip a soft cloth into the mix and wipe your boots with it
  • Use a towel for drying your boot. You need to remove all the warm soapy water as it may lead to water stains or scuffs.
  • Condition your leather boots. a mixture made with one-part vinegar and two parts linseed oil is a great conditioner to use on leather.
  • Apply the mixture and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
  • Use a soft cloth or a chamois for buffing your boots. let them air dry, but away from direct sun or a heater (they make the leather crack).

Side note- is it the same for waterproof leather boots?

Waterproof leather boots are a great investment to make and they take the heavy-duty use in the military, for instance.

  • Let the mud dry on the boots.
  • Hit the heels together. Get a brush and remove excess mud and dirt on the leather
  • Use a damp cloth for removing the last bits of debris.
  • Apply a waterproofing conditioner with a soft brush
  • Let them air dry again

What’s the best way to clean and polish patent boots?

clean and polish patent boots

In the case of patent leather boots, you need to take different steps when it comes to cleaning.

  • Remove the dirt or dust with a damp cloth
  • Apply a cleaner that is made for patent leather. You can find a black version for black boots
  • You need to apply a thick layer to the boots. let it dry for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Use a cotton chamois for buffing the boots to a high-gloss shine

How to clean boots made with synthetic materials?

The tactical boots made from synthetic materials like EVA, vinyl, and polyurethane are definitely the easiest to clean. Most of them do repel water and stains so typically they only need a fast wipe with a rag. You should only get some diluted vinegar or dish soap when you’re dealing with some stubborn dirt.

clean synthetic materials hiking boots

Keep in mind that some synthetic fabrics (mesh panels or nylon) are going to stain pretty easy when they’re not stain-proofed. You may use the same vinegar and soap that you use on a regular basis for cleaning mild stains from fabric uppers.

  • Mix 1 tbsp. mild laundry detergent in a ½ gallon of lukewarm water for the pesky stains.
  • Dip a cloth in the mixture and wipe down your boots.
  • Use another cloth and plain water for removing the soapy mixture.

Sometimes, the stains are a bit stubborner. Here’s what to do:

  • Mix 2 tbsp. oxygen bleach powder with ½ gallon lukewarm water. You should stir until the mixture has dissolved entirely
  • Apply the bleach into the stained areas. Dampen and rub until you no longer see the stains.
  • Use a damp washcloth for wiping the areas.
  • Let the boots air dry.
  • Apply a stain protector spray for protecting your boots once they’re dry.

Can you clean the suede boots?

clean the suede boots

Truth be told, suede tactical boots are a bit trickier to clean. The suede is one messy kind of leather that soaks up oils, dirt and stains so brace yourself before cleaning your boots.

  • Let the mud on the boots dry completely. You never want to scrub an even slightly damp mud as it’s only going to go deeper into the suede.
  • When the mud is dry, knock the heels together so that you get rid of most dirt.
  • Get a coarse brush and scrub the boots, removing dry dirt
  • You need to use some detergent for the stains.
  • In the case of oil stains, you should mix 2/4 of hydrogen peroxide with half a box of baking soda and a cup of dish detergent. Mix them all in a sink full of hot water. Soak your boots, scrubbing them with a good nylon brush later on.
  • It’s going to take your boots a couple of days until they dry completely, but they’re going to look a lot better.

What about laces, soles and everything else?

clean the suede hiking boots

Your laces may ruin the whole appearance of your tactical boots. A very popular and long lasting material for laces is the NyCo (50/50 blend of nylon and cotton), but it attracts dirt a lot.

You can have your very own laces and cut some tan 550cord, gut it (you should take out the white strands inside) and re-lace the boots afterwards.  you should also make sure that they don’t fray. The 550 cord is durable, strong, cheap (100ft of 550 cord is the same price as good set of laces) and sheds dirt really well. Pay attention when tying the tension know with 550 as you may cut yourself.

Many hot-weather tactical boots feature mesh drains on the boots, right between the sock liner and the leather part. Even if the drains are great for breathability, they’re also prone to get clogged with dirt and sand. Slide inside an old toothbrush and push all the debris to the outside of your boots. you’re not going to ruin the sole in any way.

Try to not fall into temptation and don’t put your insoles in the washing machine. It’s best that you let the insoles sit in a mixture of 95% cool water and 5% laundry detergent for removing the sweat in your insoles.

As for the soles of your tactical boots, you should take good care of them too. The soft rubber soles may get wreaked and some dish washing detergent (any other mild soap will do too) can help you on that. A clean sole is going to improve your traction and stability, but it’s also going to shed dirt a lot faster than a dirty one. Tactical boots that come with soft and gummy soles, are going to require more attention as the rubber is more porous. You should soak them in water for some time so that all the debris and dirt get to the surface of the rubber.

How do you get rid of odor from your tactical boots?

Cleaning your tactical boots on the outside becomes entirely useless if they’re all smelly and dirty on the inside.

Removing Odor From Boots

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about; tactical boots are going to start smelling sooner or later from bacteria growing inside. Once it comes in contact with open wounds (blisters are open wounds!), it may cause an infection.

Even if you may wash some types of tactical boots in the washing machine, you should only use cold water, using the shortest setting. Even so, it may not clean entirely your boots.

You may have better success with the following method:

  • Mix 1/3 cup white vinegar and water
  • Dip a cloth into the mix and wring it out until it’s damp. Scrub the inside of your boots with it. Do it a couple of times.
  • Get some baking soda and sprinkle it into your boots. shake well so that it gets spread throughout the entire inside of the boot.
  • Let it sit until the morning.
  • Dump out as much as you can. Don’t worry if some of it is going to stay in side.

If your feet are rather smelly, you should always put some baking soda in the boots right before you put them on. This is going to reduce the risk for unpleasant smells.

If this method doesn’t work for you, here’s another one to try:

  • Place your boots in a Ziploc bag
  • Put your dryer sheets inside the boots and put them in the freezer overnight. Make sure you don’t fold your boots in any way. The cold temperatures are going to kill the bacteria.

None of the aforementioned methods are permanent so you may have to repeat them any now and then.

One last tip to mention

Once your tactical boots are all clean and dry, you should also use a silicone spray (any other sort of water repellent solution) for protecting them from water. Water is going to damage the leather really fast, making it all rigid and uncomfortable, increasing the risk for cracking.

Cleaning Your Tactical Boots 1

Protect Your Tactical Boots

Condition Your Tactical Boots

You should clean your boots on a regular basis and right after they get exposed to wet conditions or mud. Keeping your tactical boots is going to help with their durability and with their performance for a long time. No matter how great your tactical boots are in the first month of use, they’re not going to take the heavy-duty use unless you take good care of them.



Robert Dwayne

Robert Dwayne

To say that I am an outdoors enthusiast is probably an understatement. I am hyper passionate about everything outdoors: hiking, survival, hunting. On this website I am sharing my stories and experiences, and I hope you'll find inspiration to take up your own adventures!