How to Clean Red Wing Boots: Easy 6-Step Process That Works Like a Charm

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When you search on the internet about how to clean Red Wing boots, you get so many different results. That makes it quite confusing to figure out which cleaning method actually works the best. 

In this modern age of technology, everyone thinks they’re an expert until they don’t. In the meantime, it’s you people who suffer. 

I can’t do much about this issue. But I can make sure that you don’t clean your Red Wing boots the wrong way ever again. The process I’m about to explain is pretty straightforward and chances are you’ll already familiar with it. 

There are only a few adjustments made for Red Wing. But don’t worry about that. I’ll get you through it with absolute ease. Let’s start, shall we? 

How to Clean Red Wing Boots? 

The entire cleaning process can be divided into 3 parts. First off, you’ll have to get off the loose dirt. Then comes the most important part: your boots will go through a wet cleaning process. 

It’s a bit intensive too. This one’s the most time-consuming but the results are worth it. And finally, you’ll be done with the polishing although that’s optional. Anyway, here goes nothing- 

Step 1: Remove the Loose Dirt 

You can do this with any scrubbing brush you want. You can even use a toothbrush. But a scrubbing brush will help you get the job done faster. Personally, I have this scrub brush set that I use for lots of purposes. You can check it if you want. 

While you can be a bit rough on most parts of the boot, you need to be extra careful when working around the stitches. Put too much pressure and you’ll be at risk of tearing the stitches. 

Step 2: Remove the Laces

Once you’re done cleaning out all the dirt from the crevices, you can move on to removing the laces. 

Now, some people might disagree with me saying that removing the laces isn’t necessary. But trust me, you’ll be shocked to know how much dirt is actually there. 

Once the lace is removed, take care of the tongue. Give both of the tongues a scrub and you’ll be good to go. 

Step 3: Do Some Detailing with an Old Toothbrush 

The scrub brush might remove most of the dirt but you need to be extra careful. This results in tiny debris hiding in places like the stitches and crevices. 

As a toothbrush is much less abrasive you don’t need to worry about being extra careful. So, get deep into those crevices and bring out all the dirt. 

The most important part will be the stitches. Make sure to go through all the stitches with your toothbrush. You’ll be shocked to see how cleaner those stitches will look. 

Step 4: Start Cleaning with Saddle Soap 

This step has two parts in it. First off, you’ll have to clean the outsole of your Red Wing boots. Now, Red Wing boots come in various colors of outsoles. If it’s a lighter shade or white, you’ll need to work a bit harder. 

Either way, it’s nothing complicated and you’ll pass with flying colors.

The Outsole: Use a Spoon to Remove Tree Sap 

It can be tree sap or anything else. Through the lifetime of your Red Wing boots, they’ll have encounters with many different stains. And for lighter sole boots, these stains can ruin the entire look. 

Anyway, grab a wet piece of cloth and scoop out some saddle soap. Personally, I like using the Fiebing Saddle Soap. You can choose any brand you want. If you want a white saddle soap, there’s that option too. 

  • Rub the saddle mixed cloth on the sole to create some lather. Then, use a spoon(any SS spoon that won’t bend will work) to clear out the stain. 
  • Now, don’t forget that the stain might not come off on your first attempt. You might need to do it at least 3-4 times. 
  • Once the stains are almost gone, use a toothbrush to finish the job. Go through the entire outsole to make sure there aren’t any stains or dirt left. 
  • Finally, wipe off all the residue to make sure the leather doesn’t get drenched. It’s the one thing you don’t want to happen to a leather boot. 

Burn and Flatten Loose Threads 

You can skip this part if your boots are still new. For old boots, it’s quite normal to have loose threads. So, before you move on to the next step, burn these off with a lighter. 

Although make sure you don’t expose your Red Wing boots to fire for too long. 

Start Cleaning the Upper Body 

Now, this here is the most time-consuming part of the cleaning process. And needless to say, you’ll also need to be more careful during this step. 

  • Grab a shoe cleaning brush and dip it in the saddle soap box. I’ve always been a fan of the Jovitec Brush Set and I’m pretty certain you’ll like it too. But if you already have a pair, don’t bother until they’re out of commission. 
  • You can’t cover the entire boot with saddle soap at once. You need to divide the boot into 4 parts. The front, the 2 sides, and finally, the back part. 
  • Scrub the boots using your brush for a maximum of 15 seconds. After that, quickly wipe off the soap residue with a napkin or dry towel. You need to make sure the leather isn’t exposed to water for an extended period. 
  • As I’ve discussed before, go through each of the 4 parts and ensure there isn’t any dirt left. You’ll know just by looking at the boots whether they’re clean or not. I mean the color change is pretty dramatic. 

Related: Red Wing Blacksmith vs Beckman: Unraveling the Best Boot for You

Step 5: Condition Your Red Wing Boots

Now, this is where things get complicated. People have different opinions on how they want to condition their leather boots. And it’s totally justified as the conditioner has an impact on how the boots might look after it’s over. 

Either way, my advice would be to use the Red Wing Mink Oil. The process is pretty simple. Scoop out some mink oil with a dry, clean cloth and spread it all over the boots. 

Make sure the oil reaches each and every nook and crannies. Leave it like that for about 8 hours or overnight. After that, your boots will be as good as new. 

However, you should keep in mind that any oil conditioner will change the original color of the boots. In most cases, the leather will get darker. The intensity depends on the type of oil you’re using. 

For example, mink oil is known to darken a bit more than other boots. So, if you don’t want that to happen, I’d suggest you take a look at the Bick Leather Conditioner

Step 6: Give the Boots a Good Buffing 

Once the conditioner is properly set into the boots, grab your horsehair shoe brush and give them a good buffing. I mean you won’t get a shine out of it but the matte look is nice too. 

The shining part will come a bit later. If you want to stop at this point, lace up the boots and you’ll be done with it. 

How to Shine Caiman Boots? 

It’s confusing to figure out whether or not you should use any wax to shine your expensive leather boots. 

After all, leather boots do have their own unique luster. Either way, you shouldn’t stress over it too much. 

Here are 2 effective solutions for you- 

Method 1: Instant Shoe Shine 

I had to do a lot of soul-searching to find a decent instant shoe shine. The only one I could trust was the one from Simple Shine.

The Pros are- 

  • You’re getting an instant shine 
  • You don’t have to wait for the wax to set in 
  • You’re saving time

The Cons are- 

  • The shine isn’t going to last long(especially if you live in areas like Texas)
  • It’s rather expensive as you can’t use it that many times 

Method 2: Cream/Wax Polish

Waiting Time:

Cream Polish: 1 hour

Wax Polish: 15-20 minutes

You don’t need any special cream polish to give your Red Wing leather boots the shine it deserves. But you can make it look better by following one thing. 

Always go with neutral-looking cream/wax polish. Choosing black, brown, or any other color messes with the natural patina of the leather. 

You’re willing to pay a lot of money for these Red Wing boots. So, keeping their authentic look is the right thing to do. 

If you want my recommendation, the Red Moose (you need to wait 1 hour for it to dry but the result is amazing) is quite popular and holds up well. 

But Angelus Wax (you only need to wait 15-20 minutes and the result is quite decent) fans aren’t going there. Either way, the process is the same. 

  • First, clean the boots. 
  • Apply some polish on the boots 
  • Rub it all over with your fingers
  • Leave the polish for 20 minutes
  • Buff up the boots for 5-10 minutes or until the shine is to your liking 

When to Use Colored Boot Polish? 

The only time you should use colored shoe polish on your Red Wing boots is when you want to hide scuff marks. Colored shoe polish is going to camouflage those scuff marks. 

But you need to keep in mind that these aren’t calfskin boots. So, you can’t use colored ones every single time. For most cases, stick to the neutral wax or cream polish. 

How to Buff Red Wing Boots? 

I know this isn’t anything special. Most people will use a brush anyway. But trust me on this, an electric shoe polisher is far more effective than your hand when it comes to giving your boots the shine they deserve. The problem is choosing the right shoe polisher. 

If you ask me, I’d choose the Sansent Electric Shoe Polisher. It’s compact in size, and charges with a micro-USB so you don’t have to look for a specific cable every time you charge. 

Most importantly, it gives you control as you can move around the polisher to wherever you want. 

But if you want more motor power, Moneyworth Shoe Polisher is the way to go. It’s a bit larger in size but it does a tremendous job with the least effort required. 

Wrapping Up 

So, that’s all there is on how to clean Red Wing Boots. I tried to keep everything as simple as it is. When you complicate things like cleaning a leather boot, the end game is almost always unsatisfying. 

I mean, this cleaning process has been around for many years. There’s no need to change it. With time and technology, the modifications will be adjusted. You leave that part to me. If anything new comes in, you’ll see it in Bootpedia. Until then, adios! 

Richard Nelson

Richard is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. From an early age, leather boots have been a passion for him. So, he thought why not share his knowledge with the rest of the world? 

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