Winter Shoe Care: How to Clean Winter Boots & Shoes
When it comes to taking care of shoes, there’s a lot more to keeping them in good condition than cleaning alone – especially in winter. And there’s no one single way to clean your shoes, either. Shoe care advice can vary depending on the type of footwear and the materials they’re made from.
From sturdy staples like leather boots to your favourite trainers you can’t live without – it’s good to get into the habit of protecting and cleaning your winter boots and shoes, ready to handle all kinds of weather conditions.
Don’t let winter weaken your favourite shoes. Read on to find out more about how to preserve and clean winter boots and shoes in our ultimate care guide.
What’s on this page:
How to take care of your shoes in winter
We all know how winter can be prone to rain and snow, but there’s also the dirt and mud that can come with wet weather. When exposed to the elements, our shoes can fall victim to:
- Water damage
Shoes that are well cared for typically last longer. Avoid unnecessary wear and tear as we break down the best ways to keep your shoes in great condition over winter. From freshening up your laces, to tips on how to improve the lifespan of your favourite pair in the long term.
Cleaning your shoes
For those days when it snows unexpectedly or you accidentally step in a puddle, it helps to know how to easily clean and remove stains from your shoes.
There are various methods for cleaning winter boots and shoes, but the best ones are often the simplest. How you go about it can vary depending on what kind of shoes they are.
Various shoe care cleaning products can help make your shoes look brand-new again, but you can also freshen up your shoes using average household products, too – such as a 50/50 water-vinegar mix for rubber boots. Although, we would always recommend reading the label to avoid any damage to materials!
How to clean shoelaces
One of the first and most important steps to cleaning your winter boots or shoes is to remove any laces.
This allows you to get into every nook and cranny while giving them a good scrub separately. You’d be surprised at what a difference clean shoelaces can make.
- Yes, you can wash your shoelaces in the washing machine – After you remove your laces, give them a quick brush with a spare toothbrush or rinse them in the sink to get rid of any lingering dirt. If they’re extra grubby, feel free to use a stain-removing detergent with your laundry load. It can be helpful to wash them in a mesh laundry bag if you have one, to keep them together.
- Wash your shoelaces by hand – You can also wash shoelaces by hand in the sink. A touch of washing-up liquid and a spare toothbrush will do the trick. Let them soak in warm water for at least 15 minutes before getting to work, adding a little stain-removing detergent if necessary.
- Tips for cleaning white shoelaces – Use baking soda for cleaning white laces. Just combine one part baking soda with two parts water. Let them soak for 15 minutes before washing and rinsing.
Once they’re clean, simply hang your shoelaces up to dry. Why not try out a new shoelace style next time you wear your favourite winter pair?
How to clean winter boots
Boots are a tried and tested companion for winter months. With thick socks and protection from the cold and wet. What’s not to love?
Whether they’re made from leather, suede or synthetic materials, knowing how to clean winter boots is ideal to help make them last longer.
Leather is naturally durable, but it still requires care and attention. Its supple texture can be affected by the elements over time.
Here are a few step-by-step cleaning tips for those trusty leather shoes:
- Remove any shoelaces.
- Make sure they’re not soaking wet before cleaning. Leather is porous, so too much water can damage it.
- Head outdoors and clap any dry dirt away from the soles.
- Wipe dirt away with a damp cloth and mild soap. Better yet, use saddle soap, which is specifically made for cleaning leather.
- Allow to dry completely.
Cleaning suede requires a few gentle techniques to make sure you don’t damage or ruin the shoes. You will need:
- A suede brush
- A soft cloth
- Suede cleaner, or a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water.
Follow these steps to clean suede boots:
- Brush the stained or dirty area in both directions.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe the boots with a small amount of your cleaning solution.
- Allow to dry completely.
If you’re not keen on leather or suede, you can learn more about cleaning synthetic boots with our vegan shoe care guide.
How to clean trainers in winter
Trainers are a year-round essential, easy to slip on and head out with comfort and style. Sometimes, our love for all things sneakers means that we might also wear them in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
If your trainers need a little TLC this winter, here are a few quick cleaning tips:
- Remove any laces.
- Brush away any dry dirt from the soles outside.
- With a soft cloth, use a solution of mild soap (washing up liquid works just fine) and water to wipe away dirt and scuffs.
- Brush the soles clean using a spare toothbrush.
Allow to dry!
If your white trainers have seen better days this season, explore even more tips for how to clean white trainers.
Protecting your shoes
The easiest way to make caring for your shoes easier – and avoid soggy feet – is by preparing your shoes from the start.
Most shoes aren’t completely weather and waterproof. So, when you first buy them, it’s a good idea to treat new shoes with a water-repelling product to give them a protective barrier.
Here are our tips:
- Shoe protector spray is a great way to defend your shoes from water and stains. It’s suitable for most materials including suede, leather and nubuck.
- Waterproof wax is a heavy-duty alternative to protect and condition shoes and boots for water resistance.
- Top up your protective barrier each winter to keep your shoes looking and feeling their best.
Learn more about how to protect leather shoes.
Preserving your shoes
Knowing how to clean and protect your shoes over winter is a great skill and habit to keep up. However, this isn’t the only way to give your shoes a longer lifespan. There are various ways to help preserve your favourite or most valuable shoes.
- Polish your shoes. Use shoe polish every month or two to nourish and restore colour, this will help them look better and last longer.
- Shoe storage. Get more wear out of more expensive pairs such as designer shoes, dress shoes or any clean walking boots, by storing them properly. You can do this by keeping them in their original box and storing them in a dry place. This will help avoid dust build-up and direct sunlight, which can fade shoes over time.
- Do not dry wet shoes over a heat source. If you get caught in bad weather or step in a puddle, avoid leaving your wet shoes on a radiator or heat source. This can warp the shape and material of your shoes. Instead, stuff them with newspaper to help absorb water and maintain their shape before leaving them to dry completely.
Winter shoe care: Frequently asked questions
Does cold weather ruin shoes?
No. While certain shoes may be more suitable for cold weather than others, cold weather should not ruin your shoes. However, damp or wet weather can negatively impact your shoes if they are not waterproof or treated for water resistance.
How can I make my shoes warmer in the winter?
Depending on the type of shoes, you can make them feel warmer by wearing thick socks. Boots are great for wrapping up warm, while insoles can give you a bit of extra cushioning to feel cosy. Leather is a great insulator, which makes it such a popular material for winter shoes.
How do I protect my shoes from snow?
The best way to protect your shoes from snow is by using a waterproof treatment before you use them. That way, when the snow makes contact with your shoes, it won’t seep in or ruin them.
Where should I store my shoes?
Store your shoes somewhere dry and dark with plenty of air circulation. Avoid storing your shoes anywhere where they can become damp, as they may suffer from mould. You might want to use a closet, wardrobe or a designated shoe storage unit to keep your shoes in good condition.
How long should a pair of shoes last?
How long a pair of shoes lasts can vary depending on how much wear they get. If you wear the same pair of trainers every day, you might want to replace them within a year. For shoes worn less frequently, you may be able to keep them longer.
Knowing how to clean winter boots and shoes and protect them from the elements can help keep them in better condition for longer, so you can enjoy them next season. Learn more with style tips and shoe care advice on the Shoe Zone blog.