How To Clean Vegan Leather Boots

Leather boots are well liked for their aesthetic and durability. Vegan leather, however, has become increasingly popular in the face of the sustainability movement. If you have vegan leather boots in your wardrobe, you can enjoy all the perks of leather's look without the complexities of its care. How do you clean vegan leather boots, though?

You can clean vegan leather boots by:

  1. Using dry rags to clear away the immediate mess
  2. Mixing dish soap and water before scrubbing your shoes
  3. Applying specialized cleaners to stubborn substances (optional)
  4. Drying your boots

Vegan leather boots are made of a type of plastic that makes them exceptionally straightforward to clean. As long as you diligently keep dirt and grime from wearing out your vegan boots, you can enjoy a pair for years.

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Man wearing leather shoes,How To Clean Vegan Leather Boots

How To Clean Vegan Leather Boots

If you work in a messy environment or go out in bad weather, your vegan leather boots can take on wear. Fortunately, neither scuffs nor debris make your vegan leather boots unwearable. You can take a few quick and easy steps to keep your boots clean. To get started:

Woman wearing leather boots while at the ranch

1. Clean The Mess With Dry Rags

Your vegan leather boots can fall victim to a variety of messes. When it comes time to restore your shoes to their former glory, you'll want to take a dry cloth and try to remove the bulk of that mess.

The dry cloth allows you to remove this debris without impacting the make of your shoes. You can preserve your shoes' durability as a result.

That said, there are some messes that are so dried on or texturally complicated that a dry cloth won't do much work. Even so, use a dry cloth to sop up wet materials or pick debris off your leather. This makes the following steps easier to finish—not to mention more effective.

2. Apply Dish Soap And Water

Once you've dry-cleaned your shoes, it's time to reach for the soap and water. It's in your best interest to clean off your vegan leather boots with dish soap instead of a high-end cleanser. Some of the cleansers on the market can stain your vegan leather or even shrink the material.

When you use soap and water, you can exert more control over your cleaning process. Consider using a rag or a brush to remove the bulk of unwanted materials from your shoes.

3. Apply Specialized Cleaner (Optional)

If you find that the material in question isn't coming off of your shoes, make sure you know what kind of debris it is that you're contending with.

Some materials, like nail polish or oil-based paints, will require a special product to remove from your shoes. Make sure you research the product in question ahead of time, though, to ensure that your use of it won't impact the quality of your vegan leather.

4. Dry Your Boots

Last but not least, make sure you give your boots the time they need to dry. Unlike traditional leather boots, your vegan leather boots shouldn't require days to dry unless you spent time cleaning the fabric interior.

Even so, do not put your vegan leather boots in the dryer. Instead, let them sit in a warm, dry place until they're dry to the touch. You can wait for a full 24 hours to wear your vegan leather boots in public again if you put them on and find your feet or socks unusually damp.

Read more: How Long To Break In Leather Boots?

Can You Clean Vegan Leather Like Traditional Leather?

Leather boots made from mushroom mycelium

It's not in your best interest to clean vegan leather like you'd clean traditional leather. The use of water on traditional leather can see the material warp and rapidly deteriorate, whereas it can otherwise last for several years at a time.

Similarly, leather cleansers tend to have a limited impact on the appearance of cleanliness of vegan leather.

Each of these materials shines when given the specific kind of care that it needs. With that in mind, do your research into the best vegan leather and/or leather cleaning methods available to you before you clear grime away from a wardrobe staple.

The more care you take with your belongings, the longer they're likely to continue making bold fashion statements on your behalf. 

What Is Vegan Leather?

Vegan leather is, as the name suggests, not made out of animal hide or other natural materials. In fact, vegan leather is made of out plastic. More specifically, vegan leather boots are most often made out of polyurethane, a kind of plastic that can be manipulated to take on a different texture.

There are more sustainable ways to create vegan leather boots. Some designers opt to use plant materials instead of polyurethane.

That said, the plastic nature of polyurethane makes vegan leather boots particularly easy to clean. If you're looking for a boot that doesn't easily stain and can stand up to sudden changes in the weather, these boots let you embrace the leather aesthetic without the hassle of special care.

Are Vegan Leather Boots Durable?

In general, the durability of these boots is going to vary depending on your use of them.

If you wear your vegan leather boots often or in a high-stress environment, like a plant that requires a significant amount of movement, you'll shorten the boots' lifespan. If you only wear your boots once or twice a month, they're more likely to last for several years.

The care you put into the maintenance of your vegan leather boots can also impact their overall durability. Anyone who leaves their boots in poor condition for a considerable amount of time is more likely to see significant wear on those shoes.

Comparatively, people who regularly clean off their boots and/or repair spot damage can see their boots hold up over time.

That said, do be aware of your vegan leather boots' weak points. Most of these boots have thin sidewalls and weak heels.

If you know you're going somewhere that may put your vegan leather boots at risk of damage, consider swapping your pair out for shoes that are more durable or that may be less sensitive to the environment.

Is Vegan Leather More Durable Than Traditional Leather?

Shiny brown vegan leather boots on a beige table

Vegan leather is a particularly malleable product. While that makes these boots easy to clean, it does make them less durable than boots made out of traditional leather.

In most cases, vegan leather boots are thinner than traditional leather boots. This means that vegan leather boots can succumb to wear faster than boots made out of animal hide.

That said, the amount of care you use to sustain your leather boots can also impact their overall durability. If you make a point to keep your vegan leather boots clean and in good condition, they can last for several years.

In most cases, boots made out of traditional leather will still last longer, but you can still get your money's worth out of a pair made out of polyurethane.

Read more: How Long Do Leather Boots Last?

Are Vegan Leather Boots Good For The Environment?

Many people choose to integrate vegan leather boots into their wardrobes because they believe these boots are good for the environment. Whether or not this is the case is up for interpretation. For example, vegan leather boots do forgo the use of traditional leather, which is another term for animal hide.

However, most shoe manufacturers use fossil fuels to shape the polyurethane that makes up vegan leather boots. There are more sustainable vegan leather boot options available on the market, but it's often more difficult to get your hands on these shoes than it is to invest in a polyurethane alternative.

If you want to invest in a truly sustainable leather shoe, make sure you research your chosen brand ahead of time. Traditional leather that's been made with care and sold by small business owners is often considered as sustainable as vegan leather, if not more so.

When in doubt, don't hesitate to reach out to the person selling your vegan leather or leather boots of choice for more information about the product.

In Closing

Man wearing leather shoes

Vegan leather shoes allow you to enjoy the aesthetic of leather at a fraction of the cost. When you introduce a pair of these shoes into your wardrobe, though, you need to give them regular care to preserve their overall look.

Fortunately, it's easy to keep vegan leather clean. As long as you integrate a shoe cleaning routine into the care and keeping of your wardrobe, you can keep vegan leather shoes clean of water spots, stains, and damage for years.

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