How to Care for Wellies
Looking after Rubber Wellington Boots
Hi and welcome to Bootkidz, a small design company based in London.
This page has information about caring for rubber boots.
First lets learn a little about rubber - the main material in rubber rain boots.
Rubber is a natural product obtained from the sap of trees. These trees are grown all over the world and grow well in humid climates. Vast plantations of rubber trees are grown in South America and Asia and many people work in these plantations.
The sap that is extracted from the trees is processed to produce vulcanised rubber, which has been specially treated to ensure that it does not bio-degrade as fast as it would if was not treated.
Since rubber is natural and is not a plastic or synthetic material its life is limited. It is important that you always take care with rubber products. Here are the key tips:
- Avoid leaving your rubber products in direct sunlight when not in use - ultra violet light causes rubber to degrade
- Avoid leaving your rubber products in damp wet places (cool and dry is best) - damp conditions encourage mould and other hungry rubber eating creatures
- Avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning - rubber is often coated with a protective spray, chemicals will wash the protection away
- Clean gently - the surfaces of rubber materials are not designed for abrasive scratching or intense friction
Before you clean your boots, take note of the following two step procedure:
There are three main types of material used for modern Wellington Boots:
- Plastic/wax coated vulcanised rubber
- Plastic/PVC coated canvas
The first step when cleaning your boots is to determine which type of material your boots are made of.
The second step is to choose a cleaning solution and cleaning cloth for that type of surface. We highly recommend you try your cleaning solution on a SMALL AREA, such as the back of the heel before attempting to clean the entire boot. Also, wait at least an hour, examine the small area and observe if there is any damage before continuing to clean the rest of the boot. This is because there may be a slow chemical reaction that is not easily seen, occurring between the cleaning solution and the protective coating of the boot. The coating can easily be damaged and your boots will lose this protective coating forever and be permanently damaged! We recommend a very gentle clean, using a soft cloth with a very mild soapy solution.
Looking after your Wellingtons
Rubber and sunlight do not go well together. Rubber is a natural product, even if it is vulcanised, sunlight will still tend to cause the rubber to harden.
Get a shoe bag
Once your wellies are dry store them in a welly bag or in a shoe bag. This will keep them in a dark place. Ensure the shoe bag has holes otherwise slightly damp Wellingtons may end up getting mouldy. See here for shoe boxes, boot bags, and other shoe related accessories.
How to dry
Heat will effect the rubber, so do not dry Wellingtons using a heat source other than room temperature.
Boot standsA wellie stand is the perfect item to dry your wellies. These are either wall mounted or sit on the floor in your hallway. Wellie stands are wood or iron gadgets that have poles that you put the wellies onto. The wellies usually sit upside-down, allowing any water to drip out. See here for boot stands.
Tips for cleaning
Use your hands or a "wellie jack" to remove your wellies when you return from muddie expeditions. A wellie jack is a special device you place your Wellington Boot into that holds the base and bottom of the heel to allow you to safely remove your foot from the boot without causing the base to separate from the rest of the boot.
Things to avoid
Greases, oils, and acids are not good for rubber products in general - wipe off immediately. Certain brands of Wellington Boots are more resistant to chemicals than others. Some brands are made from Neoprene - which is not rubber at all but a synthetic rubber product invented in the 1930's. Neoprene needs special care - use a mild soapy solution and very gentle brushing.
Protecting against sunlight
Use a silicone spray on rubber boots to protect the boots against sunlight, but avoid spraying the soles as this will make them slip when wet. The silicon spray will also add shine to the rubber.
Note: Always refer your Wellington Boot manufacturers guidelines as the primary source of care for your shoes.
Warning! Some boots have a thin protective layer
Note that some boots have a thin waxy protective layer applied at the factory. This layer can be easily damaged by solvents and other harsh kitchen chemicals. Always "test clean" a small patch on the back heel of the boot before cleaning the entire shoe. Then wait at least an hour before cleaning the rest of the boot to see if the boots surface is changed in that area. The best advice we have for cleaning muddy rain boots is to read the instructions that came with the boots. If you have no instructions and are left with no other alternatives then a very mild soapy solutions is usually best. With a small amount of water and soap gently wipe the mud off the surface of the boots.
- Caring for rubber boots - top tips: rinse after use, wash with mild soapy water, avoid sunlight, hang to dry in a cool dry place on a boot rack
- How to Polish Leather Shoes - a video: teaches you how to look after your leather shoes and boots
- Boot care and leather conditioning treatments
- Clever little wooden boot storage box to hold boot brushes and polish
- Boot care products - from Le Chameau
- Walking Boots - Care FAQ