Thesoldiersproject is supported by its audience. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Care for and Clean Combat Boots (Leather, Suede, Synthetic Fiber Boots)

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

How to clean combat boots

Combat boots encounter some of the toughest terrains, so it is not a surprise that they need to be taken care of and cleaned every so often. To do well in the arena, you will need these closest companions to be in their best condition. Regardless of whether they are made of leather, suede, or synthetic fibers, it is easy to maintain them if you spend a bit of time learning from our short guide on how to clean combat boots.

Below, you will find detailed instructions for each type of boots and other valuable tips to keep them in their prime for a long time! Read on to find the horsehair brush and buffing method for leather boots, dry scrubbing for suede boots, and water and vinegar wipe-down for synthetic fiber boots.

How to Clean Combat Boots

Clean Leather Combat Boots


To clean leather combat boots, you will need:

  • A horsehair brush
  • Warm water
  • A drying towel
  • A mixed conditioner of one-part vinegar and two-part linseed oil
  • A chamois or soft cloth

Step 1: Leave your boots to dry

This is a mandatory step, particularly if your boots are drenched in mud. If you try to scrub wet mud, there is a high chance it will seep into the leather. Once you are sure that the mud is completely dry, shake it off by hitting the heels of your boots together or against a hard floor.

Step 2: Eliminate any persisting mud or dirt

Use a horsehair brush and damp cloth to meticulously eliminate the remaining stubborn contaminants. Do not forget to check the soles and small creases. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, which will damage the integrity of the leather.

Step 3: Coat a layer of conditioner

Prepare a mixture of one-part vinegar and two-part linseed oil to condition your boots. This minimizes the risks of your boots drying out and cracking. You should let the mixture settle for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Buff with a chamois/soft cloth

With a chamois, gently buff your boots. If you do not have a chamois, you can also use a soft cloth to clean. Avoid using a cloth that can potentially leave scratches.

Step 5: Let your boots air-dry

To complete, dry your boots outdoors. However, do not place them directly under the sun. You should look for a nice shade. Otherwise, you can dry them indoors, away from any heaters. Even if you are tempted, do not ever try to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer!

So, there you have it! Only five steps to clean your leather army boots.

Clean Suede Combat Boots


Cleaning military boots made of suede are slightly trickier, but it is not impossible. Get a soft bristle brush, nylon brush, and mild detergent, and you are good to go. Oh, and pack some patience with you as well!

Step 1: Give time for any mud to completely dry

As you would with leather boots, do not start scrubbing before the mud is dry. You can use your fingers to check if the mud is still damp.

Step 2: Brush off any dirt or mud

Use a soft bristle brush to remove any accumulation of dirt or mud. Do not rush through this step and miss any nasty build-ups.

Step 3: Scrub the boots

Repeatedly scrub the boots with your brush. Even though it takes a bit of time and effort, it will be worth it in the end. For tough stains, use just a pinch of detergent to scrub with a nylon brush. If your arms and shoulders hurt from all the scrubbing, take a short break. But do not “give up” on eliminating any stains.

Step 4: Leave your boots to dry

Let your tactical boots sit for an hour or more. You will be surprised by how good it looks after!

Indeed, a little patience will go a long way when it comes to cleaning combat boots.

Clean Synthetic Fiber Combat Boots

If you have rummaged the Internet for advice on cleaning military boots, you will know that cleaning synthetic fiber boots is the easiest. Most of the time, you will just have to wipe it down with a bit of water. But when there are more bull-headed stains, you may need a water and vinegar solution and a toothbrush.

Step 1: Let the mud on your boots thoroughly dry


Just as you would clean desert combat boots or clean any other army boots with ease, it’s recommended that you let the mud on your synthetic fiber boots dry.

Step 2: Knock the heels of your boots together


Get rid of all the dried contaminants by using a bit of force and shaking them off. I have found that clapping your boots is a good approach to removing all the dirt and debris.

Step 3: Remove anything that remains with a toothbrush


To reach all the nooks and crannies as well as address stains, use a toothbrush dipped in a mixture of water and vinegar. Repeat as needed until your boots are spotless.

You can also spray a layer of stain protector over your boots, which will make your next cleaning sessions less tedious, but it is not a must. Some quality protectors that you can consider are Woosh Shoe Defender and CRISP Protect.


With that, we reach the end of this guide on how to clean combat boots. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading this and have picked up instructions to maintain your “military buddies.” Do not forget to follow the steps that are specific to your type of booth so that you will not accidentally incur any damage while trying to keep your boots clean.

Let us know what you think in the comments, and please share this with others if you know that it will be helpful. See you in another guide soon!

5/5 - (3 votes)