You don't wash work boots. "Washing" the leather will dry it out and potentially damage it, and you definitely don't want to wash the interior. 

If you're working outdoors, your leather work boots will get dirty. If you get a pair of high-quality leather boots for hiking, hunting and all outdoor purposes, they will get dirty.

The interior of the boot may get stinky, possibly even wet if you're in the moister parts of the country. (Western Washington, we're looking at you!) You have to clean them at some point, so here's how you "wash" leather work boots. 

Muddy Nicks Work BootsMuddy Nicks Work Boots

Never Wash Work Boots; Use Saddle Soap

Leather goods should never be washed like other clothes. Instead, you want to use a specific product called "saddle soap." It was developed to clean horse tack (hence the name) and it's the best leather cleaner to use on leather work boots unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer.

What is saddle soap

It's literally a soap, made of natural waxes, oils and cleaning compounds that wash away dirt and grime but are also excellent conditioners for leather, hydrating and nourishing it to keep it supple and in good condition. It's almost like leave-in conditioner for hair, though not quite the same. 

To use it, you open the tin of saddle soap and drip in a few drops of water. Use a clean sponge or soft cloth and work up a lather. You use that to clean your boots off. If you have to, get an old toothbrush and get the hard-to-reach spots. 

Once you soaped the entire boot, wipe off the excess with a clean, lint-free cloth. You'll notice the leather has darkened, as the surface of the leather is getting hydrated from the saddle soap. Let them dry, then oil or grease your boots to finish the cleaning process. 

That's how you wash leather boots.

On the outside, that is…

How To Clean The Inside Of Your Boots

Cleaning the interior of your boots is just as important as cleaning the outside. In fact...arguably more important. 

As your feet sweat, some if it will get into the footbed. The more is able to leach into your boots, the worse it is for them. That allows for growth of bacteria, which is what creates foot odor. It can even lead to skin infections if you don't clean them, so you'll want to clean the inside of your boots periodically. 

The best way to clean the inside of a boot is to use spray or powder frequently. 

Get an antibacterial boot powder or spray, and dust/spray the inside of your boots. Daily is best, to prevent the growth of bacteria, but things happen and so it's okay if you're doing it every other day or every few days. 

If it's been a while and your boots are getting so funky that they're ready to go on tour with Parliament, there's an easy cleaning method that will remove odors and help to clean up the interior. 

You'll have to do this on a weekend, or when you're going to have at least an entire day where you don't have to wear them. 

Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of baking soda into each boot. Shake them back and forth until you have an even layer across the interior. Let it sit for at least 24 hours, then dump out the baking soda. 

Baking soda - sodium bicarbonate - is a "base" substance (higher pH than acids) so it neutralizes the acids that can help bacteria to grow and absorbs extra moisture. It's okay if you leave a little in there, though; it's a common ingredient in foot powders. If you haven't cleaned your boots in a long time, you might want to repeat the treatment. 

That said, those are the best methods for cleaning the inside of your boots. 

Cleaning Nicks BootsCleaning Nicks Boots

Take Care Of Your Work Boots And They'll Take Care Of You

Think of investing in a quality pair of work boots as like investing in a good mattress. You're going to spend a lot of time in both of them, so you might as well get quality and take care of them while you're at it. 

Leather that is taken care of will stay supple, comfortable and strong for longer. A good pair of work boots that you maintain - and resole and/or have rebuilt as needed - can last decades. So can a pair of casual leather boots or shoes. 

If you take halfway decent care of a quality pair of boots, you can expect a long period of ownership and a better quality of working life wearing them. Why not look after your investment?