Navigating how to clean my beloved Red Wings boots was a challenging ordeal, and I almost thought it would be impossible. Even though they were made with high-quality materials, I had no idea about proper cleaning techniques for them, so I committed the ultimate fashion mistake of washing them with my regular laundry soap and dryer! 

Doing that essentially ruined the look of my boots in less than ten minutes. But after hours of searching and testing methods suggested by some experts, as well as trial-and-error experiments over time, I finally figured out the right way to tackle such situations. 

I will share all that I learned from dealing with Dirty Red Wings while highlighting what worked best for me in great detail, alongside tips on how others can avoid making similar mistakes like mine. So stick around if you want to learn more about cleaning your Red Wing boots without ruining them!

Preparation: Gathering Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you start the cleaning process, it’s essential to gather the right supplies. Quality materials will make a difference and help avoid damage.

  • Soft-bristle brush or a horsehair brush
  • Leather cleaner or saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • Clean, soft cloths
  • A small bowl of water
  • Leather protector (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide: How To Clean Your Red Wing Boots:

Having owned a pair of Red Wing boots for years, I’ve refined my cleaning process through trial and error, and I’m here to share a step-by-step guide that will keep your boots in top condition.

Remove Dirt And Debris:

  • Begin by removing laces to ensure you can clean every nook and cranny.
  • Using a soft bristle brush, clear the surface of any loose dirt or debris. This was shown to me when I used the cleanser directly on dirty boots, leaving me with tough-to-remove mud stains.

Apply Leather Cleaner:

  • With a damp cloth, apply a small amount of leather cleaner. In a circular motion, work the cleaner into the leather. I experimented with different amounts and found that less is more. You can always apply more if needed.
  • Wipe away excess cleaner with a dry cloth. Patience is critical here; rushing might only partially remove the cleaner, which can affect how the leather dries and looks.

Condition The Leather:

  • Once the boots are clean and dry, apply the leather conditioner. I learned it’s essential to cover the boot evenly, ensuring it stays flexible and doesn’t crack over time.
  • Leave the conditioner on for as long as the product recommends, usually about 15-20 minutes.

Buff To A Shine:

Using a clean, dry cloth, gently buff the boots. A bit of elbow grease here can make them shine.

Dry Your Boots:

Let your boots dry naturally. I once made the mistake of trying to speed up the process with a hairdryer and ended up with warped leather. Now, I just leave them overnight in a well-ventilated area.

Re-lace Your Boots:

Once the boots are dry, put the laces back in. I take this opportunity to replace my laces if they’re frayed or dirty.

I’ve learned that the key to cleaning Red Wing boots or any leather boots combines the right supplies and technique. Each step is crucial to maintain the integrity of the boots.

Storing Your Red Wing Boots: Tips for Longevity

Maintaining Red Wing boots is not just about regular cleaning; proper storage is equally vital for longevity. Let me share with you some practical tips on storing your Red Wing boots, coupled with a cautionary tale of my missteps in boot care.

  • Keep your boots somewhere moderately warm and dry. The leather may be harmed by extreme heat or cold. They now reside in a particular area of my closet that is kept dry.
  • Insert boot trees or stuff them with acid-free paper to maintain their form. After watching my beloved boots lose their shape, I now treat my boot trees as a sacred component of my storage routine.
  • If you don’t wear them for a long time, consider a breathable boot bag to prevent dust build-up while allowing air circulation.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Red Wing Boots:

During my time with various pairs of Red Wing boots, I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve also learned from each one. Here’s what I’ve gathered to help you avoid common pitfalls:

  • Don’t use direct heat to dry your boots. I once thought I could speed up the drying process using a space heater. The heat caused the leather to dry out and crack. Since then, I let them dry naturally.
  • Pay attention to the welt and seams. Dirt can accumulate here and cause long-term damage. I now use a toothbrush to clean these areas gently.
  • Don’t over-condition. It might be tempting to think more conditioner means softer leather, but over-conditioning can oversaturate the leather. It took a few tries for me to find the right balance, using just enough to cover the boot without making it greasy.
  • Pay attention to the soles. I’ve found that cleaning and treating the soles extends their life. A gentle scrub and the right sole conditioner can go a long way.
  • Don’t use mink oil too liberally. Mink oil can soften leather, but it can also darken it significantly. I experimented on a less visible area first to ensure I was happy with the result before applying it all over.

Sharing my experiences with you comes from a place of having committed these errors and having learned the hard way how to preserve the boots I value. My insights can guide you in keeping your boots in prime condition for years. 


Cleaning red-wing boots can be a tricky task. Improper care could damage your boots and trigger costly repairs. However, by following the correct steps and using the right products, you can ensure your investment is well taken care of. To get the most out of caring for your boots, refer to our extensive list of methods and procedures guaranteed to make them look new again. Having tried this process several times myself, I have had much success in making my red wing boots shine brighter than ever before!

Sniper Jones
Hi there, I'm Sniper Jones, mastermind of My digital platform is devoted to sharing valuable knowledge about various types of footwear that can help refine your shoe selection process. Shoes have always intrigued me, leading to an impressive collection of over 1000 pairs! was launched in 2023 with the objective to provide extensive information that aids you in making well-informed shoe purchases. I've assembled a squad of shoe aficionados who share my enthusiasm for delivering unbiased reviews and thorough buying guides. Our evaluations are rooted in our personal experiences, ensuring the advice we offer is practical and usable. I always welcome feedback and discussions. If you have any questions concerning footwear, feel free to leave a comment. I'm here to assist!