Since the advent of waterproof rubber boots in the mid-1800s, they have been a functional way to slosh through cold, wet, and muddy areas. Today, rubber boots are a standard in most shoe closets. Most modern rubber boots are designed to keep your feet dry while making a fashion statement, with a variety of designs vast enough to suit every style of dress. And while rubber boots are generally exceptionally durable, rubber is still rubber and requires a bit of loving care to maintain tip-top condition. Daily walks in the rain and mud or snow and slush (depending on the time of year) can get your boots surprisingly dirty.
Keeping your boots clean and tidy may seem as easy as jumping in a muddy puddle, but the truth is, using the wrong methods or products can result in a bigger mess and damage your boots. In this article, we’ll go over how to clean, deodorize, degerm, and polish up your rubber boots.
Let’s start with what you’ll need (aside from a dirty pair of rubber boots, that is!).
- Medium-bristled scrub brush
- Dish detergent
- Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent
- Vital Oxide
- Olive oil
- Microfiber cloths
How to Clean the Outside of Your Rubber Boots
To keep rubber boots flexible and looking their best, rinse them off with plain warm water after each use and allow them to dry naturally, away from direct heat sources or full sunlight. To speed drying, stuff the boots with a clean towel or paper towels for an hour. Remove and finish the air-drying process.
For a light amount of dried mud, use a medium-bristled scrub brush to scrub off and then rinse with plain warm water. Be sure to pay particular attention to the treads on the soles.
To remove heavy caked-on soil or winter snow salts, mix one teaspoon of dish detergent in two cups of warm water. Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe the boots from the top to the bottom, then rinse by wiping down the boots with plain water and a clean cloth. Allow your boots to dry naturally.
NOTE: Always avoid using harsh cleaners like bleach on your rubber boots, which can damage the rubber and stain the fabric inside.
How to Clean the Inside of Your Rubber Boots
Now that the outside of your boots are sparkling clean, it’s time to tackle the inside. Most rubber boots have an inner sole or lining that become heavily soiled and downright smelly. If not properly cleaned on a regular basis, the inside of your rubber boots can become a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria, Athlete’s foot fungus, and more.
To clean the inside of your boots, prepare a solution of one teaspoon Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent and two cups of hot water. Soak a clean microfiber cloth in the detergent solution and wipe down the entire inside of the boot. Then, dip a second cloth in plain hot water and rise away the detergent solution. Repeat this process as needed for extra-soiled boots. If your boots have a removable insole, take them out to clean them and let them air dry before putting them back in.
After thoroughly cleaning, let your boots air dry. Finally, lightly mist the inside of your boots with Vital Oxide. Spray full-strength, right out of the bottle, to kill 99.9% of bacteria and to eliminate any fungus or mold, as well as stubborn odors. Again, let your boots dry naturally away from any direct heat source or full sunlight.
To freshen stinky boots, lightly spray the inside of your boots with Vital Oxide and allow to air dry.
How to Remove “Bloom” from Rubber Boots
High quality rubber often allows insoluble particles to rise to the surface which results in the finish of your boots looking like they’re covered in a white marbled film or powder. This is known as “blooming”. And while it’s a bit annoying, it’s completely natural, it won’t affect the durability of your boots, and can be easily cleaned so that your boots look just as good as the day you purchased them.
To return your rubber boots to their original shiny finish, simply add a few drops of olive oil to a clean microfiber cloth and wipe down your boots, working from the top of the boot to the bottom, avoiding the sole – no one needs a slippery boot!
Maintain Your Boots
Follow these easy tips to keep your boots looking and feeling their best all year-round:
- Store rubber boots away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. A cool, dry place (like a hallway closet or a shelf in the garage) is ideal.
- Always wear socks to absorb excess moisture and to help prevent odors and interior stains.
- If possible, remove mud before it dries and cakes on.
- After every wearing, wipe down the outside of your lightly soiled boots with a damp cloth, and mist the insides with Vital Oxide to deodorize. Let air dry before wearing again.