Set for cleaning kids' boots. A spray for cleaning and a brush.

5 Easy Methods on How to Clean Kids’ Boots: Winter Edition


Cleaning kids’ boots, especially winter boots, can sound exhausting and tiring, especially for parents. Even though the mud, dirt, and snow sound unreal to clean, with the help of our guide, it will be a piece of cake. 

Even though some of you might think that winter boots are meant to stay wet and “dirty,” the truth is different. If we want them to do their job of keeping the kids’ feet dry and warm and, at the same time, stinky-free, we need to clean them properly

Taking care of your kid’s winter footwear will prolong their life span while using the most of their job – protecting the feet. Let’s see how we can do that with these five easy methods

How to Clean Kids’ Boots of Different Materials

Keep your kids’ shoes clean and protected by using the correct product regularly. Don’t wash them in a washing machine unless the provided instruction tells you so. Also, think about replacing your kids’ insoles with some leather soles to prolong the lifespan of their boors. However, cleaning and maintaining them is crucial for making sure they are still suitable for wearing! Let’s see how to maintain kids’ winter boots of different materials


Leather winter boots

The first thing you want to do is remove the laces. If they are clean, just leave them; if not, you can wash them with some hot water and laundry detergent. Ensure you remove all crusty mud and dirt from the shoes. Take a clean, stiff brush, remove the dirt, and brush away loose debris.

Make a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Take a soft cloth and soak it in it, wring it out, and wipe down the outside surfaces of the boot. Do not dip the whole boot into the mixture! Dip a new piece of cloth into clean water and gently rinse the soap from the kids’ boots.

With an old towel, tap onto the shoes to dry them out, and then allow the boots to air dry. Do not dry them in the sun or artificial heater since it can ruin the boots. In the end, apply boot oil, cream, wax, or leather conditioner to the boots to protect them. Ensure to follow the instruction of the oil/cream/wax producer. Wipe them out with a clean rag for extra shine, and they are ready for a new walk!


Patent leather 

The best way to clean patent leather is by using a dampened microfiber cloth. But with lightly colored patent leather, you need to be cautious. Such leather gradually absorbs color pigments, which you cannot clean. However, you should avoid oils and greases at all costs, as they can seep between the film and the leather’s surface and leave nearly impossible blotches to remove.

Suede and nubuck

Use a nubuck or suede sponge to gently brush the surface to remove dust and light dirt from the shoes.  Do not wet these sponges, but use them dry. More difficult stains can be removed using the sponge’s edge. Stains on suede and nubuck footwear can also be removed using a foaming cleanser. However, when using a cleanser, try it on a discrete area first.


Canvas boots are easily cleaned. Use a soft bristle brush to clean them regularly both inside and outside. You can rinse them with cold water from time to time. You can use the water-vinegar-detergent mixture stated below to clean them thoroughly. However, ensure that you never expose kids’ canvas boots to petrol, solvents, kerosene, and other similar fluids.


For textile shoes, use a clean brush to remove the dirt and debris each time after wearing them. However, if there are more stubborn dirt spots,  damp sponge in hot water and gently rub off the dirt. However, be cautious. Soles on textile shoes must be kept as dry as possible to avoid glue dissolving.

5 Easy Methods on How to Maintain and Clean Kids’ Boots

1. Water and Vinegar Mixture

Winter’s unavoidable side effect is salt stains that appear in the form of those annoying white rings on the shoes. Simply combine one part water with two parts vinegar and press the mixture into the outside of the leather boot until the stain is removed.


In order to avoid brittle leather, avoid heat sources like blow drying or exposure to any kind of heater. Instead, pat the boots with a soft cloth and let them air dry. 

2. Water-Vinegar-Detergent Mix for Inside and Outside Cleaning

You can do the same thing with a bit of detergent mixed with the mixture and clean both the inside and outside of the shoes. Fill the washbowl with hot water, and add one cup of vinegar and a bit of laundry detergent. If the smells are excessive, give them 30 minutes to soak in the water. Vinegar will kill the bacteria that cause odors.

Take a sponge or piece of cloth, dip it in the mixture, and start wiping the boots. Once done, rinse it with just water. Let them air dry without any artificial or natural heat. If your kid’s boots contain inserts, ensure you remove them before washing them and wash them separately the same way you would wash boots. 

3. Remove Smelly Odors without Washing

If your kid’s boots are clean, but they still have problems with stinky shoes or stinky feet, you could try removing smelly odors without washing them. 

In order to keep socks smelling fresh between wearings, fill them with baking soda, coffee grounds, or both to neutralize odors. When you fill the sock, tie the end to make a pouch. Place the pouch in the kids’ winter boots to absorb odors when not in use.

Baking soda is a base that forms sodium butyrate when it reacts with the stinky boots, which will help in achieving no bad odor. Then add baking soda or even coffee grounds; ensure to leave it overnight. Once this is done, take out the baking soda sock, and if you wish, you can add a few drops of essential oils for an exceptionally fresh scent.

You can use this method for any kind of kids’ shoes. Using this method will neutralize the stink and leave your shoes smelling as fresh as the day you bought them!

4. Suede Cleaning 

If a stain is not related to salt, skip the wet solution and use an eraser instead. Unlike leather, you should keep suede dry as often as possible to maintain its texture. Clean your suede boots with a clean toothbrush or terry cloth if the nap is flattened.

Lightly brush your boots with the suede’s grain, removing all the dirt from the surface. A suede brush and pencil eraser can be used to spot-treat some stains, but a suede shampoo will be needed for more severe stains. Such shampoos you can find in local stores or order it from platforms like Amazon or eBay. 

5. Use Water-Repellent Spray

Next time, prepare your boots with a water-repellent coating spray.  This will save you the effort of cleaning up weather-related stains. Do this right after you clean the boots. Remember to take immediate action as soon as you are inside for salt stains in particular. To keep their shape before drying, lightly dampen your shoes with a wet sponge and stuff them with newspaper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put the kids’ winter boots in the washing machine?

If your kid has animal-based material shoes such as suede and leather, do not put them in the washing machine. Other materials like cotton, nylon, polyester, and canvas are machine-washable.  In general, even with these materials, try not to wash them in a machine but clean them with hot water and detergent. 

How do you clean smelly winter boots?

In a washbowl, pour warm water, one cup of vinegar, and just a tiny amount of laundry detergent. Soak the boots inside and let them sit for 15 minutes. Rinse them entirely in clean water. Wipe them with a dry and clean cloth and let them air dry without any artificial heating.

How do you dry kids’ winter boots?

Whether kids’ winter boots are made from leather or any non-animal-driven material, let them air dry. Don’t expose them to direct sunlight or dry them with a hairdryer or any other artificial heater. This can damage the shoe shape and even loosen the glue that holds the boots. You can use a clear and dry piece of cloth to wipe the boots and then let them air dry.

In Conclusion

Cleaning kids’ winter boots can be a piece of cake just by knowing the material you are dealing with. The good thing is to maintain the boots properly after each wear. Simple whipping the dirt and cleaning with the brush will be sufficient for those everyday wear. For more stubborn dirt and smelly odor, ensure to follow the instructions. 


  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.