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Dr. Martens, also referred to as Docs or Doc Martens, is a brand of leather footwear. It’s popular for its distinctive look, specifically the yellow stitching. The brand dates back to the Second World War when it was created by a German doctor who injured himself during a ski trip.

How To Clean Dr. Martens

 Dr. Martens boots come in various materials, which means different cleaning methods must be used. The classic ones are made of leather, but there are Doc Martens made from canvas, fabric, and vegan-friendly synthetic materials today. 

Cleaning the Soles

When cleaning the soles, you only need a few basic things you’ll find in your house: 

  • Bowl
  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Brush
  • Clean cloth/rag

The Process: 

  1. Fill the bowl with warm water.
  2. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap and mix. 
  3. Dip the brush in the soapy water. 
  4. Scrub the soles of the Doc Martens to remove the dirt. 
  5. Dampen the cloth in fresh water and wipe the soles. 

Cleaning the Shoelaces

You need the same things to clean the shoelaces, except the cloth. All you need to do is place the laces in soapy water and swirl them around. In case that your shoelaces are too dirty, you can scrub it with a toothbrush. When done, you can rinse them in fresh water and hang them to dry. 

Cleaning the Uppers

Uppers can get dirty, and it’s essential to clean them. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Show brush
  • A few soft cloths
  • Sponge
  • Leather conditioner
  • Shoe polish
  • Newspaper
  1. Use the brush to remove dirt from the uppers. Make sure to pay attention to the stitching around the welt where the sole joins the uppers, the eyelets for the laces, and the tongue of the boots or shoes. 
  2. Apply the leather conditioner and make a circular motion on the leather. 
  3. Leave it to dry for 30 minutes after application. 
  4. Use a wax polish that matches the color of the footwear or a neutral one. 
  5. Place newspaper over the area where you’re going to work. Now, you’re ready to use the polish. Similar to the leather conditioner, this must be applied using a circular motion over the wax to soften it. A good tip is to warm the polish first to make it easier to apply. 
  6. Leave the shoes between 10 and 20 minutes. Once done, use a lint-free cloth to wipe over the boots to remove dust or any polish that’s left behind. 

If you find it challenging to get polish into hard-to-reach areas, you can use a cotton bud or toothbrush. Moreover, if you have older shoes, applying two layers of polish is recommended but make sure to let the first layer dry first before applying the second one. In the case you have a build-up of old polish, remove it using rubbing alcohol, saddle soap, or acetone-free nail polish remover. 

Cleaning Suede Docs

Suede is a type of leather that is popular for its luxurious finish. With that (and as expected), it needs more special care when cleaning. When cleaning suede leather, you need a good suede brush and eraser. 

It’s crucial you brush suede regularly to remove dirt and dust and raise the nap. Doing so will keep the shoes looking smooth. There are also specialized cleaners available that you can apply after brushing. However, before you use one, do a patch test for colorfastness before you use it. 

In the case of stubborn marks and stains, you can use an eraser or a suede block, which is used like a pencil eraser. All you need to do is rub the block over the marks until they’re removed. Make sure to follow it with a light brush up with your suede brush. If you can’t remove all of the stains, you can fade them instead. 

Keep in mind when it comes to dealing with suede Doc Martens, you need to brush them more regularly to preserve their soft nap. Consider waterproofing as well to protect from water damage and marks. 

Cleaning Fabric of Canvas Docs

When you have a pair of Docs that is made of fabric or canvas, this will require a different type of cleaning. With that, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Soft shoe brush
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Small bowl
  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Paper towels
  1. Brush your shoes with your soft shoe brush. 
  2. Use a dry paper towel to remove debris or dust from the surface. 
  3. Mix two cups of warm water and dishwashing soap in your bowl. 
  4. Dip the toothbrush into the bowl and scrub gently the fabric. Do it on small sections at a time by following the grain of the canvas or fabric. 
  5. Use a moistened paper towel to remove the soap residue. 
  6. Let the shoes air dry for 24 hours but make sure the shoes are not in direct heat or sunlight. 

Cleaning Vegan Docs

As mentioned, there are now pairs of Doc Martens that are made from eco-friendly materials. You can clean them with the use of a damp cloth. All you need to do is wipe over the surface of the shoes to remove dirt and debris. 

Other Things to Know

When cleaning your Doc Martens, there are many tools you can use. For one, a protector spray is a good idea to help prevent damage from stains, water, and UV light. You can use it the moment you take out the pair of shoes from the box and spray it on the shoes every time you clean them. 

Leather conditioners and other specialized cleaning materials are worth exploring as well. In fact, Dr. Martens have their own line of cleaning materials you can use to keep your shoes looking good. 

Here’s To a Cleaner Pair of Docs

Your Dr Martens are unlike any other brands—they are an investment, which only means you need to take care of them. Cleaning them properly will make them look supple and look good for a long time. Use these tips to help you make the most out of your investment. Doing so will make it last longer than ever.  

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