How to Clean Suede Walking Boots

How to Clean Suede Walking Boots

The one thing you take on every adventure: walking boots. They are your number one when it comes to hiking, and therefore deserve attention. The breathable yet durable properties of suede make it is a sustainable material for walking boots. However, to keep them at their maximum strength, they need a good cleaning now and again. Here at LOWA, we believe looking after your shoes is essential for any hiker and have offered some helpful tips to clean your suede walking boots.

What to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Suede Walking Boots? 

Your boots are most likely waterproof. Ensure any products you use are specific for suede and also designed to safeguard the material from damage that could effect its waterproof properties.

What to avoid?

For suede it’s best to use lighter treatments and avoid heavy waxes that may not be breathable. Also stay away from regular soap and detergents. If you have slightly neglected cleaning your boots or have never until now, a safe and effective way to remove mould is to use an 80:20 water/ vinegar ratio, and then rinse thoroughly. 

Keep it natural

 It may be tempting to throw your boots in the washing machine. Quick and easy right? Wrong! Resist using a washing machine because it most likely will damage your beloved boots, and your washing machine! A small amount of time and a bit of elbow grease is the safest way forward! It will be worth it, we promise. 

Water droplet creating rings in water.

Cleaning Preparation:  

For a particularly dirty pair of boots, we suggest these preparation steps beforehand:
•    Remove heavy chunks of mud beforehand. Also, take care to be thorough as it will avoid blocking the sink if this is where you choose to rinse down your boots. A bristle brush is an excellent way to knock off the more inset mud too. 
•    Remove the laces and insoles for a thorough clean. For odourous shoes, baking soda is an old trick to decrease bad smells and dry them quicker.  
•    On the subject of shoelaces, soaking them with clean water and splashing them with a bit of washing up liquid is a great way to de-grime them. Then leave them to dry naturally. 
•    Stuff the boots with paper or tissue to sponge up any excess water to make the drying process faster.  

Boy wearing goggles, cleaning walking boots outside.

Steps for the Cleaning Process: 

•    Once the majority of outer mud has been removed, it is time to rinse the boots with clean water lightly. Try again to scrub any stubborn dirt away. 
•    It’s worth giving them a really good rinse inside now and then as well! It might seem odd but washing the boots inside really extends the boots lifespan. (this will take a while to dry though so plan ahead)
•    You don’t need to re-treat your boots every time, but maybe every 3-4 walks. In many cases it’s best to add any suede waterproofing spray or wax while they are still wet (check the care instructions). The material will absorb the waterproofing properties most effectively while damp. In a perfect world, when you initially purchased your boots, they would have been sprayed. And if you’re exceptionally thorough, you can spray a day before each hike to keep them in top shape.  
•    If the boots are in very poor condition it is advisable to condition them after cleaning and before you treat them. However, it is necessary to make sure you use the right amount. Too much conditioner will make the boots too soft, and too little may lead to the suede cracking with dryness. 

Essential Drying Tips:

Prioritise carefully drying your boots as you did when cleaning them. Follow these guidelines to ensure your boots are dried suitably. 
•    Again, stay away from any machinery when drying. Heater and dryers are not appropriate as the heat radiated can damage walking boots. While we need to dry them, we don’t want them to be utterly dehydrated of moisture.
•    The same goes for the sun. Leaving them in the path of direct sunlight is not healthy for walking boots. Not only may they end up cracking from lack of moisture, but intense sun rays can also blemish the colour. 
•    Finally, ensure the boots are thoroughly dry before storing them. Dampness can develop into a mould, and we don’t want to have to re-clean them! 


Family walking on path in woodland area.  
We hope this simple guide has inspired you to give your boots some TLC. If you are in the process of buying some new boots, please feel free to check out our blog on What to Look for in Hiking Boots for some handy tips. Our website has a range of boots for you to browse including; men’s, women’s, children, shooting, hiking boots for wide feet, and so on!