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How To Clean Football Boots & Rugby Boots

Cleaning rugby boots and football boots isn’t hard, but it could save you a fortune in footwear! Learn how to clean leather cleats with our handy guide.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

image of football boots that need to be cleaned

Whether it’s you or your child coming home with dirty boots from the pitch after a football or rugby game, it looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you. Fortunately, mud and grass stains tend to look worse than they actually are, so take a look at our tips before you panic. We’ll show you how to clean football boots and rugby boots in a quick and painless way!

Keep a cloth, a soft toothbrush and some leather conditioning cream as a little shoe-cleaning kit to make it easier to get into a routine of cleaning your leather cleats regularly after practice and matches.

How to clean football boots (and rugby boots)

If you’re wondering how to clean rugby boots, as opposed to football boots, our method for cleaning football boots and rugby boots is actually the same. You’re essentially learning how to clean leather cleats, so one method will work for both varieties and the same advice will apply. Here’s how to clean football boots – and rugby boots:

  1. Take the boots outside and brush off any dried mud on the boots with your hands, or just knock the shoes together to remove caked dirt

  2. Wipe off the boots with a damp cloth. Use cool rather than hot water to dampen the cloth with, as hot water might can stiffen leather boots, making them crack

  3. Want to know how to clean turf marks off cleats? You can try using a leather conditioning cream in a matching colour if your shoes are dyed, but if they’re white, you can just try applying a small amount of non-gel toothpaste to a cloth or paper towel and gently rub it against the turf or scuff mark. You can also use a toothbrush (though use one that you keep specifically for household cleaning purposes)

  4. Follow the washing advice on your boots’ care label – it will most likely read ‘hand wash only’, ‘do not bleach’ and ‘do not tumble dry.’ It’s always a good idea to have a clean cloth dampened in cool water and some leather cleaner to hand when cleaning football boots, though you’ll need to let your boots dry in-between. Avoid the temptation of speeding up the process by using a radiator or a blow-dryer to make your boots dry faster – this type of sudden and intense heat can do a lot of damage to the leather, the stitching, and even the shoelaces. Instead, stuff your boots with newspaper to absorb the moisture and place them on some more newspaper in a well-ventilated area at room temperature. They should dry overnight, but you may want to give them a full day just to be sure

  5. Use a designated cloth for treating your boots with a leather conditioning cream to keep the boots in good condition. Many creams also serve as an added layer of protection against water and scuff marks

Cleaning rugby boots and football boots – a few pointers

Apart from the method above, there are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning football boots and rugby boots. If you don’t just want to know how to clean leather cleats, but also how look after them, here are some pointers:

  • Take your dirty boots into the house with you after practice, and take them out of their bag as soon as possible. You may not have time to immediately start cleaning them, but ensuring that they are in a well-ventilated area saves you the hard work of getting the ripe smell of gym bag out of them, as well as avoiding mould forming inside the shoes

  • Hot water and direct heat are things that should be avoided at all cost, since the leather will deteriorate from both. This includes having your boots dry in front of an open fire, a radiator, and a blow dryer

  • If you maintain your football or rugby boots regularly, you’ll find that it’s less time-consuming and your boots stay in great shape for longer

  • You may want to invest in a second pair of boots in order to wear one pair while you let the other pair dry completely. This may mean you get more wear out of both pairs before it’s time to upgrade

  • Untie your shoelaces and loosen them before taking your shoes off – it will make the shoes and shoelaces last longer. Keep the shoelaces untied while you aren’t wearing the shoes

You’ve now learned that cleaning football boots and cleaning rugby boots is essentially the same thing and you need the same tools and process for both. You’ve also learned how to clean turf marks off leather cleats using non-gel toothpaste and a toothbrush, which is a handy trick for leather shoes in general (especially white ones). The next step is to put on those clean and shiny boots and get back on the pitch for another game!

  • Gently scrape off dry, caked dirt on the boots

  • Wipe the boots with a clean cloth and some cool water

  • Remove scuff marks from white leather shoes by rubbing some non-gel toothpaste on the marks

  • Let the boots dry completely after cleaning them – insert newspaper inside the boots to absorb the moisture

  • Use a leather conditioning cream to keep the leather supple

Originally published