How to Clean Desert Boots: A Step-by-Step Guide

Desert boots are a popular style of footwear that offer a comfortable and rugged look. However, over time, these boots can become dirty and require cleaning to maintain their appearance and longevity. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of cleaning your desert boots, ensuring they stay looking their best.

Understanding the Materials of Desert Boots

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand the different materials used in desert boots. This knowledge will help you determine the most effective cleaning methods for your specific pair.

Desert boots are not only stylish but also durable due to the materials they are made from. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of materials commonly used in desert boots:


Leather is a popular choice for desert boots due to its durability and classic look. It is known for its ability to withstand wear and tear, making it a great option for those who want boots that will last. Leather boots are also relatively easy to clean, as they can handle more intense cleaning methods without losing their quality.

When cleaning leather desert boots, you can use a leather cleaner or saddle soap to remove dirt and stains. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test any cleaning products on a small, inconspicuous area before applying them to the entire boot. After cleaning, you can use a leather conditioner to keep the leather moisturized and prevent it from drying out or cracking.


Suede desert boots have a more casual and textured appearance compared to their leather counterparts. Suede is a type of leather with a napped finish, which gives it a soft and velvety feel. While suede boots are stylish and comfortable, they require more delicate care.

Cleaning suede desert boots can be a bit trickier than cleaning leather boots. It’s important to avoid using water or liquid cleaners on suede, as they can leave water stains or damage the material. Instead, you can use a suede brush or eraser to gently remove dirt and stains. For more stubborn stains, you can use a suede cleaner specifically designed for this type of material. After cleaning, you can restore the nap of the suede by brushing it with a suede brush.


Nubuck is another type of leather that is commonly used in desert boots. It has a similar appearance to suede but is more durable and resistant to wear. Nubuck boots offer a balance between the ruggedness of leather and the softness of suede.

When it comes to cleaning nubuck desert boots, it’s important to take a gentle approach. Like suede, nubuck can be easily damaged by water or liquid cleaners. Instead, you can use a nubuck brush or eraser to remove dirt and stains. There are also nubuck-specific cleaning products available that can help maintain the quality of your boots.

By understanding the different materials used in desert boots and the appropriate cleaning methods for each, you can ensure that your boots stay in top condition for years to come. Whether you have leather, suede, or nubuck desert boots, taking the time to properly clean and care for them will not only keep them looking great but also extend their lifespan.

Gathering the Necessary Supplies

Now that you understand the materials used in desert boots, it’s time to gather the necessary supplies for cleaning. Cleaning your desert boots regularly not only helps maintain their appearance but also prolongs their lifespan.

When it comes to cleaning desert boots, having the right tools and products is essential. Here are some additional details on the essential cleaning tools and recommended cleaning products:

Essential Cleaning Tools for Desert Boots

To effectively clean your desert boots, you will need a few essential tools. These tools are specifically designed to handle the unique characteristics of desert boots, ensuring a thorough and gentle cleaning process.

The first tool you’ll need is a soft brush. This brush should have bristles that are gentle enough not to damage the material of your boots but firm enough to remove dirt and debris effectively. Look for a brush made specifically for shoe cleaning, preferably with natural bristles.

In addition to a soft brush, you’ll also need a clean cloth. The cloth should be lint-free and soft to avoid leaving any scratches on the surface of your boots. A microfiber cloth is an excellent choice as it is gentle and highly absorbent.

Lastly, a shoe horn is a useful tool to have when cleaning desert boots. A shoe horn helps you put on and take off your boots without damaging the back of the shoe or causing unnecessary strain on the material. It’s a small investment that goes a long way in preserving the shape and integrity of your desert boots.

Recommended Cleaning Products for Desert Boots

In addition to tools, certain cleaning products can help maintain and restore your boots’ cleanliness. While there are various cleaning products available in the market, it’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for suitable cleaning products for your specific material.

For suede desert boots, a suede cleaner is highly recommended. Suede cleaners are specifically formulated to remove stains and dirt from suede without damaging the material or altering its texture. Look for a suede cleaner that is suitable for your specific color of desert boots.

If your desert boots are made of leather, a leather cleaner and conditioner are the go-to products. Leather cleaners effectively remove dirt and grime, while conditioners help nourish and moisturize the leather, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Be sure to choose a leather cleaner and conditioner that is compatible with the type of leather used in your boots.

For fabric desert boots, a fabric cleaner is the ideal choice. Fabric cleaners are designed to remove stains and refresh the appearance of fabric materials without causing any damage. Look for a fabric cleaner that is gentle yet effective in removing dirt and stains from your boots.

Remember, always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using cleaning products. Test any new cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area of your boots before applying it to the entire surface to ensure compatibility and avoid any unwanted effects.

By gathering these essential tools and recommended cleaning products, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your desert boots looking their best and ensure their longevity. Regular cleaning and maintenance will not only preserve the appearance of your boots but also contribute to their overall comfort and durability.

Preparing the Boots for Cleaning

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to prepare your boots properly. Taking the time to properly prepare your boots will ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned and well-maintained, prolonging their lifespan and keeping them looking their best.

So, how exactly do you prepare your boots for cleaning? Let’s break it down step by step.

Removing Laces and Insoles

The first step in preparing your boots for cleaning is to remove the laces and insoles. This may seem like a simple and obvious step, but it is crucial in ensuring that every nook and cranny of your boots gets the attention it deserves.

By removing the laces, you’ll be able to clean them separately, ensuring that they are thoroughly washed and free from any dirt or grime. This will also prevent any tangling or damage that may occur if you were to clean your boots with the laces still intact.

Similarly, removing the insoles allows you to clean them separately, ensuring that they are fresh and odor-free. Insoles can often accumulate sweat and bacteria over time, so taking the time to clean them properly will not only keep your boots smelling fresh but also maintain their overall hygiene.

Brushing Off Excess Dirt and Debris

Once the laces and insoles are removed, it’s time to tackle the excess dirt and debris that may have accumulated on the surface of your boots. This step is crucial in ensuring that the cleaning process is as effective as possible.

Using a soft brush, gently sweep away any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the boots. Be sure to pay extra attention to the areas where dirt tends to accumulate, such as the soles, crevices, and seams. By removing this excess dirt, you’ll be able to focus on deep-cleaning your boots without the risk of scratching or damaging the material.

It’s important to note that different types of boots may require different brushes. For example, if you’re cleaning suede or nubuck boots, you’ll want to use a brush specifically designed for these delicate materials. This will help prevent any damage and ensure that your boots are cleaned safely and effectively.

Now that your boots are properly prepared, it’s time to move on to the cleaning process itself. But before we do that, let’s take a moment to appreciate the importance of maintaining clean boots.

Clean boots not only look better but also perform better. By regularly cleaning and maintaining your boots, you can prevent the buildup of dirt, grime, and bacteria, which can cause the material to deteriorate over time. Additionally, keeping your boots clean can help prevent unpleasant odors and prolong their overall lifespan.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready to give your boots the cleaning they deserve!

Cleaning the Exterior of the Boots

With your boots prepared, it’s time to focus on cleaning the exterior.

Using a Soft Brush to Remove Surface Dirt

Take your soft brush and gently scrub the exterior of the boots to remove any surface dirt. Ensure you cover all areas, including the crevices and seams.

Spot Cleaning Stubborn Stains

If you encounter any stubborn stains on the boots, consider using a specialized cleaning product designed for your specific material. Apply the product to a clean cloth and gently dab the stain, taking care not to rub it vigorously.

Cleaning Suede or Nubuck Desert Boots

When cleaning suede or nubuck desert boots, use a suede brush or eraser to gently remove dirt and stains. Always brush in one direction to avoid damaging the material.

Cleaning the Interior of the Boots

Now that the exterior of your boots is clean, it’s time to turn your attention to the interior.

Removing Odors and Moisture

To remove any unpleasant odors or absorb excess moisture, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda or use shoe deodorizing inserts. Leave them inside the boots overnight and then remove them before wearing the boots again.

Cleaning and Refreshing Insoles

If your desert boots have removable insoles, gently hand wash them using mild soap and water. Allow them to air dry completely before placing them back inside the boots.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can keep your desert boots looking clean and in top condition. Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning specific materials. With regular care and maintenance, your desert boots will continue to serve you well for years to come.