Doc Martens have remained a favorite footwear choice among the fashion-forward and practical alike since skyrocketing to popularity in the 1990s. They not only have an iconic look with their lace front opening and famous yellow stitching, but they’re also made of high-quality leather, making them both comfortable and durable.
When you have boots made of high-quality materials, it is critical to take proper care of them. We’ve put together how to clean doc martens to help you keep your boots looking as good as the day they arrived.
The history of Dr. Martens
The Dr. Martens boot has a long history of rebellious self-expression; now seen as a symbol of modern culture and individual attitude, Dr. Martens weren’t always such a well-known street-style staple.
The Griggs family created these utilitarian work boots from tradition and authenticity over a century ago in 1901, and they had a reputation for durability and comfort. Dr. Klaus Maertens, who later became a partner with the Griggs’, developed the shoes’ unique air-cushioned sole in postwar Munich.
By the 1960s, the shoes had received a slew of novel features, just in time for a period of transition that encouraged new social norms, subcultural freedom, and outlandish ideas. Dr. Martens boots became a symbol of working-class pride and self-expression among British youth, who were divided into tribes based on new music genres such as nu-metal and Britpop.
Since then, Dr. Martens has welcomed distinctive styling with open arms, and music has become a part of the brand’s heartbeat.
How To Clean Doc Martens
What You’ll Need
- Mild Soap
- Soft-bristled Brush or Old Toothbrush
- Shoe Polish
- Shoe Protector
How to clean doc martens – 5 steps
1. Scrub the soles
Warm water and a few drops of liquid soap or dishwashing liquid in a small bucket or bowl Scrub the soles with a dishwashing brush, shoe brush, or toothbrush to remove dirt, grime, mud, and anything else you’ve stepped in.
When you’re finished, wipe the soles with a damp rag.
2. Take off the laces.
This will simplify the cleaning process and allow you to clean the laces.
Swirl the laces in some soapy water and scrub them if they’re dirty. Rinse them thoroughly, ring them out, and hang them to dry.
3. Remove dust and dirt with a brush.
Brush dirt, dust, and dried mud from your Docs with a shoe brush or an old nail brush. Make sure to get into all the difficult-to-reach areas, such as the stitching and inside the tongue.
If you don’t have a shoe or nail brush, you can remove dirt and dust with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth.
4. Remove scuffs and old polish.
Scuffs and polish buildup on your Docs can be removed with an acetone-free nail polish remover. Use a clean rag or lint-free cloth to remove the nail polish. Gently rub scuffs and polish buildup until the scuffs disappear and the polish is removed.
When you’re finished, wipe down the shoes with a damp, clean cloth and let them air dry.
Avoid rubbing too hard with the nail polish remover, as this may damage the finish.
5. Soften the leather
Because leather is the skin of a living animal, it must be moisturized and conditioned (just like human skin) to avoid drying, cracking, and deterioration.
Massage a conditioner into the leather of your Docs with a cloth or sponge, making sure to get all of the hard-to-reach places. After that, let them dry for about 20 minutes. Leather conditioners that are popular include:
- Essential oil of lemon (not olive oil, which can cause oil damage
- Mink oil
- Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam, a product that contains coconut oil, beeswax, and lanolin and is designed to help protect against water and salt.
- While saddle soap is frequently recommended as a leather conditioner, the lye in it can actually cause your leather to dry, crack, and deteriorate faster.
What About Other Materials?
Different types of leather may be used for different types of Doc Martens, with some requiring slightly different cleaning methods.
Here are some of our best tips for dealing with different materials than you’re used to.
Dr. Martens, fortunately, makes cleaning its patent leather boots and shoes a little easier with its own Patent Cleaner spray.
Simply repeat the previous steps, but instead of applying wax, spray your shoes with cleaner and wipe away any excess.
Then, using a soft-bristled brush, buff out your boots or shoes to give them a glossy, even shine.
Suede, as we mentioned in our guide to cleaning suede shoes, can be a notoriously difficult material to clean at times.
Dr. Martens, on the other hand, makes things a little easier with its Suede Cleaner spray.
Again, the method is the same: wipe your boots or shoes down and then spray them with the cleaner.
After spraying, clean gently with a sponge or cloth, then lightly wipe away any excess cleaner with another cloth and some water.
Avoid getting the suede wet because it will take longer to dry naturally. Once dry, lightly sweep a suede brush, such as this Shacke 4-Way Suede Brush, along the grain of the suede.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Doc Martens
When it comes to cleaning shoes or boots, the first rule is to avoid using a washing machine or tumble dryer.
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This is due to the fact that the excessive amount of water, combined with the extreme heat, can damage the fabric and adhesives, causing your sneakers to fall apart.
Dr. Martens also recommends going a step further and allowing your sneakers to dry naturally. This means you should never use direct heat to accelerate the process.
Another helpful hint is to avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach. Although they appear to be a quick fix, especially for white shoes or boots, they can end up damaging your shoes if not properly diluted.
What makes Doc Martens Wonder Balsam different from Doc Martens Dubbin?
Wonder Balsam is a leather conditioning treatment for Doc Martens. It’s a combination of lanolin, beeswax, and coconut oil that softens and preserves leather. Dubbin, which is also made of wax, can soften and preserve leather.
Dubbin can also add water resistance to your shoes and is appropriate for oily, waxy leathers. It can soften new shoes and make them easier to break in.
Both of these products can be used on your leather Docs. First, apply the Dubbin and let it soak in for a few hours. Cleanse and protect with Wonder Balsam.
Casey Nash’s video demonstrates how to use these two products.
What is the best way to use Doc Martens Wonder Balsam?
Apply a small amount of leather conditioner to a clean, dry sponge or cloth. Circular motions should be used to work it into the leather, covering all of the uppers of your boots or shoes. Allow it to dry for 20-30 minutes on the footwear before gently removing any excess with a soft cloth or soft-bristled brush.
This Jeph Journals video shows an old pair of Doc Martens Classics being restored with Wonder Balsam.
Should I spray my Doc Martens with a protector spray?
Absolutely! A protector spray will aid in the prevention of water, staining, and UV light damage. Doc Martens recommends its Ultra Protection spray for all of its shoes, whether they are made of leather, suede, or fabric. It’s best to use this right out of the box on your footwear, and then repeat applications every time you clean them.
What is the best way to clean my vegan Doc Martens?
These eco-friendly shoes are made of synthetic materials and do not contain any animal products. They can be cleaned with a damp cloth and have the appearance of leather. Wipe it over the shoe or boot’s surface to remove dirt, dust, and debris.
Boot World has you covered whether you’re looking for a new pair of boots or a way to refresh your old ones. We carry a wide range of boot brands, from Timberlands to Doc Martens, as well as all the cleaning supplies you’ll need to care for your leather.
Our boots can be ordered online for in-store pickup or shipped to you. All orders over $99 are automatically eligible for free shipping. Visit our website today and begin browsing our incredible selection of boots! Furthermore, if you have any additional questions about Doc Martens, such as “how to clean doc martens””Are Doc Martens Non Slip?”, “Are Doc Martens Waterproof?”, or “Do Doc Martens Run Big or Small?”, our blog has you covered!
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