How to Clean and Care for Ugg Sheepskin Boots
The outer suede on sheepskin boots, such as those manufactured by Ugg®, can easily become dusty, scuffed, or stained, and the fleece-lined interior can begin to smell unpleasant. Cleaning Uggs and other sheepskin boots requires some special care. While boots made of synthetic materials that look similar to sheepskin can be machine-washed, true sheepskin shoes must always be hand-cleaned with products designed to protect suede leather.
Follow these general steps to clean and care for your Uggs and other sheepskin boots.
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What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- White cloth or sponge
- Suede or soft-bristle brush
- Cotton ball
- Toothbrush (optional)
- Cold water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Suede and nubuck cleaner
- Baby powder or cornstarch
- Baking soda
- Phenolic spray disinfectant, such as Lysol
- Antifungal spray
|How to Clean Sheepskin Boots|
|Detergent||Gentle leather/suede soap|
|Cycle Type||Do not machine-wash|
|Drying Cycle Type||Do not machine-dry|
|Special Treatments||Spot-clean stains|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
|How Often to Clean||Light cleaning after every wearing; deep cleaning after every few wearings|
How to Clean Sheepskin Boots
It's important to clean both the visible outside dirt and stains from your sheepskin boots whenever the need is obvious, but don't neglect the insides. When the fleece inside your sheepskin boots becomes moist from sweat or water, bacteria begin to grow and cause odor. Take care to maintain the insides of the boots, so they stay smelling fresh.
In between deep cleanings, brush the suede outer surfaces of your boots after every wearing. It's also a good idea to give your boots an extra-thorough cleaning before putting them away in storage as warm weather arrives.
Brush the Boots
Run a suede brush over the boots after every wear to remove dust and loose soil. It's best to brush the boots outdoors. Start at the top, and brush downward, following the nap of the hide.
Use a Suede Cleaner
For overall cleaning, use a detergent made for cleaning leather. Follow the directions carefully, and shampoo your boots starting at the top and working downward with gentle circular motions, being careful not to oversaturate the boots. Allow them to air-dry.
Eliminate Fungus and Bacteria
Wipe down the inside of each boot with a solution of disinfecting cleaner and water. Choose a pine oil or phenolic disinfectant, such as Lysol; never use chlorine bleach, which will cause the sheepskin hide to stiffen. Follow the label directions for mixing instructions. The best way to kill fungus in the boots is to use an antifungal spray.
Air-Dry the Boots
Once you've wiped down the interior of the boots, allow at least 24 hours for the interior to air-dry before wearing again.
To help combat odor, sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda into each boot, and allow them to sit overnight. The next morning, empty the boots, and vacuum out the baking soda to prevent leaving white tracks everywhere.
What Are Ugg Sheepskin Boots?
Ugg® is one of the most popular brands of sheepskin boots, shoes, and slippers. Uggs and other sheepskin boots and slippers are made from the skins of sheep with the wool still attached, making for extremely warm footwear. Most sheepskin boots have exposed sheepskin suede comprising the upper portion of the boots, but some types may enclose the sheepskin in another protective layer of waterproof rubber or plain leather.
Treating Stains on Sheepskin Boots
How you deal with stains on sheepskin boots will depend on what the staining agent is. Here are how to handle some common stains:
If your boots get wet in a rainstorm, just letting them dry without cleaning can cause streaking or water stains. To remove water stains, start by using a white cloth or a sponge dipped in cold water to wet the boots all over until evenly wet. Do not soak them.
To help the boots hold their shape while drying, stuff each damp boot with a rolled white towel. Don't use a dark-colored towel because dye could transfer to the boots. Skip the newsprint as well, or your feet and socks will be ink-stained.
Allow the boots to air-dry away from full sun or direct heat. Don't put the boots in the dryer or use a hair dryer directly on the boots. High heat can damage the exterior.
Salt stains can appear on sheepskin boots after you've walked in salted roads following a snowfall. Salt used in the tanning process can also rise to the surface of the skin and appear as stains when the boots are wet. However, they can be removed with a little TLC.
Mix 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, then wipe the salt-stained area with the vinegar solution using a white cloth or a cotton ball. The acetic acid in the vinegar will gently dissolve the salt. Then, use a white cloth or a sponge dipped in cold water to wet the boots all over until evenly wet. Do not soak them. Allow the boots to air-dry.
If you wear your sheepskin boots enough, they're sure to get an unsightly scuff or two. Here's how to remove scuff marks, which can make boots look aged.
Use an old toothbrush or a clean white towel to brush away the scuff marks. Take care not to rub too hard, and follow the nap of the suede. For tough scuffs and stains, you'll need a suede and nubuck cleaner. After the scuff is gone, use a suede or soft-bristle brush to brush the suede to return the napped surface to the proper direction.
You can pick up oil or grease stains on your sheepskin boots simply by walking around outdoors. Before using the following method, wash your hands so you don't transfer more oil to the boots.
Cover the oil stain with a layer of baby powder or cornstarch, and let it sit for at least 24 hours (though 48 hours is better). The powder will absorb the oil from the boots. Brush away the powder with an old toothbrush. You might need to repeat the procedure to get all the oil stains off the suede.
Sheepskin Boots Care and Repairs
If a seam comes undone, use a heavy-duty needle and buttonhole thread to repair it. Double-stitch the seam, so it doesn't come undone easily again. If there's a tear in the boot, cover it with a suede patch, which can be found at fabric and craft stores. It might not look as good as new, but it will keep your feet warm and dry.
Storing Sheepskin Boots
Never immediately store damp boots in an enclosed space or container. Even if the weather is dry, allow the boots to air-dry at least 24 hours after wearing to allow foot and body moisture to evaporate. Use boot trees, rolled white towels, or white tissue paper to stuff boots and help them hold their shape when they're not being worn.
How Often to Clean Sheepskin Boots
Sheepskin boots should have an overall cleaning, or at least a brushing, after every wear if it's wet or snowy outdoors. Prevent odors inside your boots by deep-cleaning them after every few wearings.
Tips for Cleaning Sheepskin Boots
- To help prevent excessive staining, sheepskin boots can be waterproofed using a special spray designed for suede. Test it on an inside area first, as it may change the texture and color of the leather.
- Always wear socks or tights with your boots to prevent interior soiling and odors.
- Never let your boots soak in water or stay wet for too long. This loosens adhesives and causes the exterior to become misshapen.
- If you have avid boot and sneaker wearers at home, a boot dryer could be a great addition to your cleaning appliances. They dry wet shoes way faster, reducing odor, bacteria, and mold growth.
Can Uggs and other sheepskin boots be washed in the washing machine?
You should never wash Ugg boots in a washer. They should only be washed by hand.
Can you waterproof sheepskin boots?
Yes. Every three months or so, spray your Ugg boots with water and stain repellent spray to protect them.
What is the average lifespan of Ugg boots?
Ugg boots can last five years or even as much as 20 years, depending on the care and maintenance they are given. Other brands of sheepskin boots may not have the same longevity.