Regular cleaning of rubber or neoprene wellies will not only make them look good, but increase their durability and help prevent the boot from cracking
The whole point of wellington boots is for them to get muddy so that you don’t, however knowing how to clean wellies will not only make them look better, but last longer, too. Whether you own traditional rubber wellies or cosy neoprene welly boots – worn all day and every day on the yard – or a fashion-statement pair for weekend walks, they’re all worth a regular clean inside and out.
It’s good practice to rinse down your wellies of any wet mud, horse muck and farm chemicals on a daily basis, but if the dirt has become a more permanent feature, you’ll need to take a more meticulous approach.
How to clean wellies: the outside
Start with the outside of the boot, where most of the accumulated mud is.
Either outdoors, or over a piece of old newspaper to protect your floor, brush off all the excess dried mud, including that trapped in the tread. You can use a dandy brush or any medium-bristle brush.
Dampen a cloth in a bowl of warm water, and wipe in a downwards motion over the whole boot. It’s best to start at the top, where there will be the least dirt, so that you don’t end up spreading the mud from muckier patches into cleaner ones.
Make up another bowl of soapy water – using a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a litre of water – and repeat the wiping process, leaving the soles for later. Solvents and detergents are not advised. Depending on how muddy the wellies are, you may need to use a bit of elbow grease and some circular motions to shift some of the dirt.
An old toothbrush is ideal for cleaning the tread in the soles. Dip the toothbrush in the soapy water and give the treads a good scrub.
Finish off with a wipe down with plain water and a clean cloth to get rid of any soap residue, as this may leave spots or compromise the exterior.
Sometimes rubber wellies develop a white marbled film or powder, which is known as “blooming”. This isn’t very attractive, however it does not affect the durability of the boot and usually means your wellies are made from a good-quality natural rubber (insoluble particles in the rubber can rise to the surface in certain temperatures, such as excess heat or sunlight). It’s pretty easy to eradicate – cleaning as directed above should do the trick.
If not, there are some commercial sprays, such as Hunter Rubber Buffer or a silicone spray, to restore the boots to their original look. This will also keep the rubber supple and in tip-top condition.
Some welly connoisseurs swear by wiping a few drops of olive oil on a cloth on to the jaded boot, working in small areas from the top to the bottom. But a word of warning – never apply the sprays or oil to the soles, or you might end up sitting in a puddle.
Cleaning the inside of the boot
It’s no good having sparkling clean wellies if they smell cheesy on the inside and are a breeding ground for bacteria. Always wear socks to absorb excess moisture.
Mix a little non-biological detergent liquid, such as Persil, in some warm water. Dampen a cloth in the soapy water and wipe the whole of the interior. Repeat the process to wipe off the soapy residue with plain water.
If the boot still smells, mix equal quantities of hot water with white vinegar, which works as a deodoriser, and wipe the interior again. The acids in the vinegar can help to prevent the growth of bacteria. You can also try shaking three tablespoons of baking soda in the boot, and leaving it to work its magic overnight. Empty it out before using the boot.
In the summer, when your boots are resigned to the cupboard, you can store a lavender or other sweet-scented sachet into the boot to keep it smelling fresh.
Drying your wellington boots
Drying wellies correctly is key to their durability. Do not be tempted to place them by the radiator, AGA or under a hair dryer, nor leave them outside in freezing temperatures as this could cause the rubber to crack or split. They should be left to dry naturally in a warm, well-ventilated room. You can pack them with a small towel or roll up newspaper and stuff balls of it inside the boot to speed up the process and help keep the shape of the boot.
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