How to Clean Clarks Desert Boots in 4 Easy Steps

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Oct 16, 2020
How to Clean Clarks Desert Boots

Man, those Clarks Desert Boots looked so good in the store. 

It’s a different story now, though. Maybe it’s been six months. Maybe a year. 

Has it been over a year? We need to have a talk. 

In any case, you’re wondering how to clean your Clarks Desert Boots. We’ve got you. Our comprehensive guide will help you restore those beauties, whether you’re wearing them in the original Beeswax colorway or you’re rocking the suede versions. 

So let’s get to it. 

What You’ll Need to Clean Clarks Desert Boots

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Cleaning your Clarks Desert Boots is a simple process. You’ll need a different set up cleaning materials depending on what kind of leather your Desert Boot is made with. 

Beeswax

This is the original colorway for the Desert Boot. The Beeswax leather is packed with fats and oils, so it lasts a while before needing restoration. Plus, it develops a nice patina as it ages.

And don’t worry, you’ll still have some of that rugged edge after you’re done cleaning it, too. 

To clean the Beeswax leather you’ll need:

  • Two rags or microfiber towels
  • Saddle soap
  • Leather Balm (Venetian is our favorite)
  • Horsehair brush

You can find all of these items on Amazon, and most are under $10. If you don’t have boot-care basics like the horsehair brush, we highly recommend you pick one up. 

Kiwi Saddle Soap
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DaLuca Venetian Imperial Leather Balm
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Kiwi 100% Horsehair Shine Brush
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Buff™ Microfiber Cleaning Cloth | Black (12 Pack)
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Your shoes and boots (and even backpacks and handbags) are an investment, and proper care tools are the best way to ensure you get a long life out of your purchases. 

Suede

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If you’re rocking a suede pair of Clarks Desert Boots, you’ll need a different set of care equipment to clean them up:

  • Rag or microfiber towel
  • Suede brush
  • Suede eraser
  • Suede cleaning solution (optional)
  • Suede protector (optional)

Suede is more sturdy than many people give it credit for. In most cases, you’ll only need a suede brush and suede eraser. Again, you can find both for under $10, so it’s a small investment that will help you keep all your suede goods looking fresh. 

Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit
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Scotchgard Suede & Nubuck Protector, 7 Ounces
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Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner
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Buff™ Microfiber Cleaning Cloth | Black (12 Pack)
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If you had a wild weekend and spilled wine or beer on your suede, you may need to invest in some suede cleaner. You can also head over to our comprehensive guide on how to clean suede boots to learn how to make your own solution at home. 

How to Clean Clarks Desert Boots: Beeswax

Your Beeswax leather boots don’t need much care, but as the months go by, Clarks Desert Boots can gather a decent amount of dirt. Cleaning them every six months is a good idea to keep them looking fresh. 

Plus, finishing with leather balm will keep the leather from cracking so your boots last longer. Try the following method if your boots have water stains, caked on dirt, or any other type of stain. 

If video’s more your speed, we broke down this entire process on our YouTube channel:

Step 1: Brush off boot and apply saddle soap

Knock your boots together to remove excess dirt. Use a dry rag and wipe your entire boot. It’s important to get as much dirt off as possible before you start cleaning because even one small grain of sand can put a scratch into your leather.

Also, it’s much easier to clean your boots after you’ve removed the shoelaces. 

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When you’ve done that, grab a tin of saddle soap. Fill the top of the tin with the hottest water that comes from your tap. 

Kiwi Saddle Soap
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Take your cleaning rag (a small circular horsehair brush is really effective in this situation but isn’t needed). Dampen the rag in your hot water and lather a dime-sized amount of saddle soap. 

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Begin rubbing the saddle soap into your boot. Only clean one boot at a time. Lather in small circles until you’ve covered the entire boot. 

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Step 2: Remove saddle soap

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Use a new dry rag and remove the saddle soap. Go over the boot a few times, especially around the welt (the stitch that attaches the upper to the sole). 

Clarks Desert Boots are fairly simple, so this process is easier than on other types of shoes and boots. 

It’s ok if you see a small amount of water soaked into the leather. It shouldn’t be completely saturated, but if it’s a bit darker in one area, that’s fine. Your boot will dry out in a few hours. 

After you’ve cleaned your boots with saddle soap, they should already be looking much better. But you’re not done yet. 

You’ve been wearing those boots for months, and the leather has lost a lot of its natural oils, so it’s time to give them some TLC. 

Step 3: Apply leather balm

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Use that same drying rag (or another rag) and apply leather balm. Our favorite leather balm is DaLuca Venetian.

DaLuca Venetian Imperial Leather Balm
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It’ll darken the leather a little, but does a great job at restoring any lost oils and bringing the leather back to its former glory. 

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To apply the leather balm, dab some on the corner of your cloth. Again, in small circles, rub the balm into the entire boot. 

Step 4: Buff and let dry

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Once you’ve covered the entire boot in a thin layer of leather balm, use a horsehair buffing brush and go across your Desert Boots. 

Kiwi 100% Horsehair Shine Brush
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You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this step. Two or three swipes on each spot should do the trick. You’re just looking to disperse the leather balm and any residual saddle soap so your boots condition evenly. 

Let your boots dry for 20-30 minutes before wearing them and, ta-da, you’ve got a beautiful pair of Desert Boots ready to go. 

How to Clean Clarks Desert Boots: Suede

Cleaning suede Clarks Desert Boots is even easier than the Beeswax method. Many folks don’t give suede much credit for its durability, but you’re about to find out how well this material can clean up. 

Step 1: Remove excess dirt

Start by knocking your boots together. Take out the laces and use a dry rag to remove as much dirt as possible before you continue. 

Step 2: Restore the knap with a suede brush

how to clean clarks desert boots suede

There’s isn’t a good substitute for a suede brush in this case. If you don’t already have one, we recommend the SofSol suede brush and eraser combo. It’s under $10 and will help you keep all your suede looking good as new. 

Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit
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Brush your Desert Boot in one direction. Keep the direction consistent for both boots. This will restore the knap evenly, and you may even find that your boots are looking sufficiently clean at this point. 

If there are still a few dark marks on your suede, move on to step 3. 

Step 3: Use a suede eraser

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Suede erasers are small pieces of rubber—usually crepe rubber (the same material on the sole of your Desert Boot). You’ve probably noticed by now that the crepe rubber sole picks up a lot of dirt. Well, a suede eraser does the same. 

Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit
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In small circles, rub the stain with the suede eraser. You’ll see the spot become more matte or grey. Restore the knap again with the suede brush. If there’s still a dark spot or stain, repeat the process.

Step two and three should take care of about 90% of issues with your Clarks Desert Boots. If you still have stains that won’t come out, move on to the next step. 

Step 4: Work in cleaning solution and let dry (if needed)

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For this step, you’ll either need to buy suede cleaning solution, or you can use distilled white vinegar.

We prefer the suede cleaning solution for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t make you smell like an Easter egg. And second, the spray nozzle is a safer bet for application, as too much liquid can make the stain worse than when you started. 

Our favorite cleaning solution is Otter Wax Suede Cleaner.

Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner
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Regardless of whether you use a cleaning solution or distilled white vinegar, the next step is easy. Apply a small amount of your cleaner to the stain and let it sit for ten to twenty minutes. Repeat steps three and two, using the suede eraser followed by the brush. 

Step 5: Apply suede protector (optional)

If you want to go a little longer before cleaning your suede boots next time, apply suede protector. We use Scotchgard Suede Protector because it’s the least expensive and does a solid job at waterproofing the suede on your Clarks Desert Boot. 

Scotchgard Suede & Nubuck Protector, 7 Ounces
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Hold the can six to eight inches away from your boot and apply an even mist to the entire upper. 

Let it rest for a few hours and you’re done. You just added a layer of weather and stain-resistance that will keep your boots looking fresh for longer. 

A Spa Day for Your Boots

After you’ve cleaned up your Desert Boots, place tiny cucumbers in their eyelets and put on a relaxing ethereal meditation soundtrack. 

Oh, wait. You can skip that, actually. 

Hop to it and get those Desert Boots squeaky clean. And be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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