Whether you’ve got muddy kids’ wellies to clean or dirty wellies to deal with after a festival, you can make sure they look as good as new with these simple and easy methods. Follow our guide to learn how to clean wellington boots and remove smells, caked-on mud, and even that white film rubber boots can develop in hot weather.
Homemade cleaning solutions can prove useful when commercial products are not available, but be careful, as these options have not been subject to the same rigorous quality and safety tests. Therefore, always wear gloves, and test homemade solutions on a small, unnoticeable area before you apply them.
How to clean Hunter boots: the exterior
Wellies such as Hunter boots will inevitably pick up mud and dirt from all that tromping around, but cleaning the outside of your boots is simple. Here’s a quick how-to, using everyday household ingredients:
Use a clean rag soaked in warm water to wipe off any dirt, grass, or mud on the surface. Start at the top of your boots, and work your way down to the bottom. Don’t worry about caked-on mud yet.
Mix a soapy solution from 1 litre of warm water with 1 teaspoon of a good quality dishwashing liquid.
Take another rag, soak it in this solution, and start to rub away at the exterior of your boots with a circular motion, again from top of the boot down to the bottom.
For the soles of the boot, you can use a soft-bristled scrubbing brush, but be careful to avoid wearing down the rubber, and make sure to rinse off all detergent, otherwise your boot soles can be slippery and dangerous.
You can also use a clean, old toothbrush to scrub dirt out of small grooves on the sole.
Clean your zippers using a downward brushing motion and a rag, or a toothbrush.
How to clean rain boots with…
Really caked-on mud: if none of the above steps shift the mud, mix a paste from 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and about 1/2 a cup of warm water. Rub this onto the caked-on mud with a rag, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and rinse off. The mud should be gone!
Scuff marks: these can be removed with a simple pencil eraser. Failing that, take a dab of normal, non-gel toothpaste, and rub it into any scuff marks with your fingertip. Rinse and dry, and the scuff marks should be gone.
White film or 'blooming': in hot, humid weather many rubber boots naturally develop a white film from particles within the rubber rising to the surface. Commercial boot buffers or shining products are specially designed to remove the blooming marks. However, for a homemade alternative, try wiping your boots clean, and then applying a drop or two of olive oil to a dry cloth. Wipe this into your boot surface with a circular motion, and the white marks should disappear.
How to clean Hunter boots: the interior
Now you know how to clean your boots on the outside, but how about the inside? Well-used wellies can use an interior wash from time to time, especially to get rid of any unpleasant smells that might develop!
Cleaning the interior: You can mix a similar solution of dishwashing liquid and hot water, or hot water and a non-bio laundry liquid like Persil. Dip a rag in this solution and run it over the inside of your wellies a few times. Afterwards, use a clean rag and water to “rinse” the interior of your boots.
Removing smells: With a spray bottle, lightly mist a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water into the boot. The natural acids in the vinegar will kill any odours.
When buying dishwasher tablets, which of these is most important to you?
How to dry boots
If your wellies have been out in the rain or dunked in a river, or if you need to dry them after an interior wash, here are a few tips:
Wellies should always be air-dried, but a great way to soak up excess moisture is to crumple up old newspapers and stuff them into your boots. After a few hours, remove the sodden newspapers, and if the boots are still damp, repeat.
Never dry wellies by putting them in direct sunlight. The heat can damage the rubber and may cause any colours to fade.
Likewise, never put wellies into the washing machine or tumble-dryer, as the heat will damage the rubber.
Rain or shine, after hillwalking or summer festival partying, our Cleanipedia guide should help you keep your rubber boots looking smart and smelling fresh for many years to come. You may also find you’re left with mud stains elsewhere – for these you can check out our articles on how to remove mud stains from clothes and removing muddy footprints from carpet.