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How to clean wellies

 Two young children rolling out cookie dough while wearing Santa hats

When it comes to having fun in the great outdoors, wellies are the way to go. Designed to keep children’s feet clean, dry and warm in wet environments, they’re brilliant for puddle-jumping, muddy walking trails and much more. Wellies are available for children of all ages, so a family day out is definitely on the cards - you can even get wellies for toddlers.

Wellie care is very important. It can be tempting to simply kick off your boots and leave the mud to dry once you get home, especially if your mind is more focused on getting your little ones clean. But leaving wellies muddy can impact their effectiveness - dry, caked on mud obscures the treads on the bottom of wellies, making it easier for children to slip and injure themselves in wet weather. So, what’s the best way to clean a pair of wellies?

How to clean muddy wellies

To make cleaning wellies easier, it’s a good idea to stamp your feet outside before you take them off. This helps to get rid of any loose mud while it’s still wet and pliable. Unless you’ve been somewhere very muddy, you likely won’t need to clean your boots every time you take them off - every two or three weeks may be enough depending on how often you wear them.

When you come to clean wellies, the first step is to brush off any dry dirt you can easily move. If you’re cleaning your wellies indoors, it’s best to put down some newspaper to catch mud and debris. Try to only get off what comes off easily as harder mud can be loosened later. The next step is to take a clean damp cloth and wipe the wellies down with warm water. This will help to loosen dried mud and may remove a good amount of mud from the boots.

After this, you’ll need to make up a bowl of soapy water. Don’t add too much as excessive dish soap can be damaging to the material of your boots. Use the soapy water to clean the remainder of the mud from the wellies. If you’re struggling to get mud out from the treads of the wellies, a soft-bristled toothbrush may be helpful. Remember to be gentle whenever you scrub your wellies to avoid damaging them.

Once you’ve removed the mud, all that’s left to do is to rinse the boots off and leave them to dry. Make sure to wash off all soapy residue, as this may damage the material if left for too long. You can use a towel to dry excess water off the boots, then simply set them out to dry. Don’t leave them near artificial heat sources or in direct sunlight. Excessive heat can lead to discolouration and may damage the material of wellies.

Can you put wellies in the washing machine?

If heat can damage our wellies, it seems common sense to not put them in the tumble dryer, but what about using a cold cycle in the washing machine? Unfortunately, this is not advisable.

Manufacturers do not recommend machine washing as being tumbled around in a washing machine can damage your wellies.

As well as scuffing them, machine washing can also impact the boot’s ability to keep out water - which means you or your little ones might end up with wet feet after all. Putting your wellington boots in the washing machine or tumble dryer may also be quite loud, so overall it’s best to wash wellies by hand to keep them in good condition and save yourself a headache.

How to clean wellies inside

Although it’s usually the outside of wellington boots that gets the most dirty, the insides may need cleaning occasionally as well. This is simple to do and doesn’t take long. Just mix up some water with a small amount of dish soap and use it to wipe down the insides of the boot with a damp cloth. Then use a new cloth with non-soapy water to remove the soapy residue. Try not to submerge the boot if possible, as it will take longer to dry.

Again, leaving wellies to dry naturally keeps them in good condition and allows you to enjoy them for longer. However, it may speed up the drying process if you scrunch up balls of newspaper and put them inside the damp boot. The newspaper will help to absorb the water - if necessary, remove the old newspaper and repeat with a fresh page to dry wellies quicker.

If you find the wellies smell after cleaning, then you may find it useful to try a deodorising spray. These can be bought pre-made, or you can try an at-home solution using equal parts of hot water and white wine vinegar. This can either be wiped into the inside of the boot like you would with soapy water above, or sprayed directly into the boot.